Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mark And The Hall

The offseason off-topic trend continues...

In the latest Hall of Fame voting, Mark McGwire, in his second year of eligibility, again came up well short of election.

His HoF resume is solid, however: 12 All Star games, Rookie of the Year award winner, 5 top-10 finishes in the MVP voting, 3 Silver Sluggers, 583 homers, 1400 RBI, and led the league in OBP x 2, Slugging x 4, OPS x 2, HR x 4, RBI, Walks x 2, Runs Created, OPS+ x 4, Intentional Walks, Extra Base Hits, and some other stat-junkie stats (Adjusted Batting Runs, Batting Wins, and Offensive Win%). He is the all-time leader in at-bats per HR at 10.6.

If one would have polled HoF voting writers when McGwire retired in 2001, I would be willing to bet that he would have gotten a "yes" vote from close to 90% of them.

So why isn't Big Mac in the Hall? More critically, did Big Mac take steroids and how has the steroids scandal affected McGwire's image?

Did McGwire take steroids? Yes. In 1998, he admitted to taking the nutritional supplement androstenedione, a precursor to testosterone. At the time, andro was sold at supplement stores (GNC, etc.) and was used by many athletes and non-athletes alike, from pros on the field to joes on the gym. Personally, I knew many guys in high school and college that took the stuff, some on sports teams, others who just liked to lift weights. But I don't know a single one of these guys who considered them to be steroids. While anabolic steroids were illegal since 1990, these "supplements" were not considered to be in this class, and were not added to the list of controlled substances until 2005.

That is the only evidence of McGwire taking steroids. Some will point to Jose Canseco's allegations in his book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. And while some of Canseco's allegation have been proven correct or given some increased probability, they are still unproven, unsubstantiated claims. They are no more valid than anybody else's claims of who did and who didn't.

How has the steroids scandal affected McGwire's image? He was hurt big time by his testimony in front of Congress when he said:

Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers 'No,' he simply will not be believed; if he answers 'Yes,' he risks public scorn and endless government investigations.... My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty...I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject.
My take on these isssus:
1) Steroids - We have no proof that McGwire took any substances that, at the time of use, were either illegal or against the rules of baseball. Compare that with guys like Palmeiro (postive test) or Bonds and Giambi and Pettitte and others (admission to taking drugs illegal since 1990 and known to be performance enhancers.) He's not in that category.

2) Canseco's book - I like Canseco and I think much of the stuff in his book is probably true. In fact, McGwire probably did do illegal anabolic steroids. But like I said before, they are still unsubstantiated accusations. Hall voting should not be based on rumor.

3) Congressional testimony - Would I have liked McGwire to wave his finger and deny steroid use. Sure, but I also respect his right to not say anything. I also know that nothing he said in his testimony was incriminating. I'm not saying he came out smelling like a rose, far from it. But this is going to keep him out fo the Hall? I don't get it.

4) Hall Voting - From my perspective, McGwire is being kept out of the Hall because of suspicion, speculation, and confusion. Nothing is known today that wasn't known back when he was hitting 70 homers a year, yet the same baseball writers that stood in line to kiss his ass then are now lining up to use their Hall voting as a soapbox to prove their newfound ethics and values. Fact is, there is nothing of substance to keep McGwire out of Cooperstown. It's just that no one knows what to do with these Hall-eligible steroid-era players, and Big Mac is going to float in Hall pergatory until they figure it out.

Corey

18 comments:

BenJah said...

i agree that the voters are full of shit, but in this case i think mcguire is rightly being kept out of the hall. he only has 1626 hits in 16 seasons, and he was a defensive liability at the easiest defensive position on the field (and yes, this is why i think utley is more important to the phils than howard). he may have hit a lot of dingers, but also racked up 1596 strike outs. aside from homeruns (and rbi, but that is tied to heavily to homers) he is pretty average as a first-baseman-slugger when compared to his peers. also, allstar games should be irrelevant. mark redman has been an allstar and eric karros never was, so how much can that count??

GM-Carson said...

Tim Salmon was never an All-Star either for what it's worth.

I believe McGwire belong in the Hall though for the sheer fact that he is one of the most imposing/powerful sluggers of all-time. That makes him "elite" in my book.

Bob D said...

I really haven't followed the steriod scandal all that much. But I would say that if these guys took this stuff that is sold over the counter before them being barred, they should not be penialized for it. Its not right to keep someone out just because of suspicion. Its like saying Siralden can not be part of this blog because we suspect he is Pat Gillick in disguise!

GM-Carson said...

Baseball is my sport, others sports don't really matter much to me. So it really pisses me off when baseball seems to be the only sport coming under scrutiny from Congress and whatnot for performance enhancing drugs. We all know that the NBA and NFL is guilty of the same thing, but for some reason it's the MLB that catches most of the crap for it.

GM-Carson said...

I'm starting to get the feel that Kyle Lohse may be coming back for 3 years at about $30 mil. I think he's vastly over-rated, but hey, he would help this team right now no doubt.

furiousBall said...

I don't think Mark should make the HoF, roids or not. He has that three stretch that is undeniable, but outside of those years, he was great but not HoF worthy IMHO.

GM-Carson said...

1 homerun every 10 at bats, and nearly 600 in his career makes McGwire Hall worthy in my opinion- prolific slugger!

Jarex said...

I think part of what keeps Big Mac out of the HoF is the blowback effect - remember that the voters are writers and writers, by in large, are whispy dreamers who are all probably feeling a little pissed off that they were, for the most part, duped in '98 when they believed that the HR chase was being carried out by two freakishly large-yet-clean, honest men. Flash forward, and suddenly their golden boy was not so golden anymore.

Because we as fans so rallied behind McGuire and Sosa as they carried baseball back from the dung heap to the national stage, we, or the writers at least, probably expect more from them years later. Another thing about '98 that has always struck me kind of curious, even as it was happening, was that the HR chase was going on during the whole Clinton/Lewinski thing - baseball, from the chase to the Yankees' unbelievable season, was the ultimate diversion that summer and fall and may have actually kept the country from slipping into complete psychosis.

My honest opinion is that, had McGuire admitted to using 'roids, his HoF voting results would at least be doubled on account of "good grades" for being "honest." No one likes a cheater, or a suspected cheater for that matter, but they at least appreciate it when a cheater comes clean. AND people especially hate the honest cheater, the "straight-A student/boy next door" type who's secretly burying bodies in the basement.

Big Mac's song and dance in front of congress may have been good legal strategy, but it essentially stripped away any and all of his personality.

GM-Carson said...

The homerun race between Sosa and McGwire was huge news. My football coach at Bucknell would even give us updates during practice of how each was doing- he was usually an all-business sort of hardnosed man that didn't care about anything but football.

SirAlden said...

I took Andro when I was GM with Seattle during the glory years. It made my nuts turn into raisins and grew hair out of my ears like Yoda.

It was just not worth it. I learned my lesson , I think I will just "stand Pat" now.

If White Guys like McGuire are finally accepted, and I agree with benjah, only 1626 hits is not stellar, after all it is a HALL of FAME Career, not a HALL of FAME 4 years, then Blacks and Hispanics, like Sosa are every bit as deserving.

What confuses this further, is that is was not banned at the time. You cannot change the rules later.

GM-Carson said...

When I was playing college football, I took "Ripped Fuel" from GNC than contained Ephidra (or something like that) that has now been banned.

Bob D said...

I took benadryl before it was banned

Corey said...

i respect the people who don't want mcgwire in the hall because they don't think he is qualified. i don't agree, but i think it's a valid arguement. it's the other stuff that's causing writers to not vote for him that pisses me off.

Jarex said...

I once took THC in cookie form. I was young. I didn't know. I'm ashamed.

GM-Carson said...

I'm currently taking performance enhancing drugs to up mt blogging ability...more on this later this week.

BenJah said...

wow, a good and peaceful debate here....what's gotten into us??

ok, time to take carson to task:

mcguire is a HOFer but gossage is not?? the guy pitched 1800 innings as a reliever and dominated the late innings. over half of his saves were of 6 outs or more.

i agree that the HOF should have high standards, so why would you campaign for a one dimensional slugger who only dominated for 4 yrs??

Corey said...

i'll let carson defend his goose take, but as for big mac...that "only dominated for4 years" thing is just wrong. before the 4 years you reference, he had 6 years of greater than 30 jacks, three of those in the 80's where homers were more of a premium. also, it's hare to ignore one homer ever 10 at-bats over 6000 at-bats. thats years of slugging dominance, not just 4.

Los said...

If MGuire would've hit 100 less home runs, would he merit being in the hall? I'm just wondering - I'm not saying steroids added 100 home runs, but I'm not saying they didn't, either ...