Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Truth Will Set Big Mac Free

As one of the 77 percent of the Baseball Writers Association voters who did not put Mark McGwire's name on my Hall of Fame ballot, I offer this open letter to the man who must feel his fall from grace is now complete, and irreversible:

Dear Mark:

I know you were routed in your initial battle to win inclusion in Baseball's Hall of Fame. That was bound to be the fate of the first big-name batter up for consideration from the steroid era.

Received only 23 percent of the necessary 75 percent of the votes needed for election had to be a stinging slap. But as much as it may have hurt, understand this, and understand it quickly: even though that battle was lost, you can still win the war, but only if you use the time left to you wisely, with the best interest of the game in mind.

You have 14 years to do so. That is the number of years of eligibility you still have left on the writers' ballots.

That decade and a half will seem like an interminable amount of time, but only if you view it as a painful period in which you are destined to twist slowly, endlessly on the outside of Cooperstown looking in.

But what if you go on the offensive, Mark?

Come clean about the steroid era, including any involvement you may have had in it. Then invite baseball to join in its version of a truth and reconciliation initiative of the sort that made a lasting peace possible in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela confirmed his genius and strengthened a nation. Can you help save a game?

Baseball, the national pastime, is worth saving. And it can only benefit from the kind of healing and cleansing that the truth about what drugs did to it and its records can bring.

Lives may not be at stake, just reputations such as yours are; that was brought home with brutal force Monday when your bid for immortality was rebuked, and infamy was offered, instead.

Now you know: Baseball is a game that depends on reputations - and heroes - unlike any other. Yet your one saving grace could be that if there's anything baseball fans, and people in the country as a whole, love more than a hero it is a repentant hero.

Pete Rose has never understood that. He's yet to accept the fact that three simple words - "I am sorry" would not only bring forgiveness for his gambling indiscretions. They would bring down the walls that keep him barred from the game, from the Hall to this day.

So be smarter, and less self-destructive than Rose, Mark. Be the first to show him the way. Don't continue to relegate steroids to a past you refuse to speak on. Blow the lid off the era and let the air, and light in.

Then dare others, from Barry Bonds to the other countless number of players who also know the truth to follow your lead.

Do that and you will prove that not only were your home runs powerful, but so, too, is your desire to heal the game. Then, and only then, will you have a chance to be judged truly Hall-worthy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will never understand the reasoning behind this demand for McGwire's admittance of guilt.
First question, what is he guilty of? Steroids were NOT against the rules of baseball when he played. They were banned after his career ended.
Second question, if this is a question of morality and rules, why are other players not held accountable for their immoral acts and cheating? Specifically, players that drank to excess, gambled beyond their means and/or cheated on the diamond (spitballs, pine tar, etc.)
Last question, what happens when Roger Clemmens comes up for election? Do the writers simply ignore the fact that 6-8 years ago Clemmens career was slipping and his *workout regimen* was what revived his career. I firmly believe the writers will demonstrate their hypocrisy by electing him on a first ballot.
Either all players are guilty of using a non-banned substance and held accountable, or no players are held accountable.
Remember, one of the criteria for election is the body of a players career, not their one-time, on-camera meeting with Congress.