A Defense of Big Mac

Based on all the hand-wringing the BBWAA is doing, you’d think they were being asked to formulate a new policy for winning in Iraq. But no, they’ve been presented the 2007 Hall of Fame ballot. The cause of their angst?

Mark McGwire.

You see, writers, like most people, don’t like being suckers. And for some reason, they feel like they were had by McGwire – and all this stems from the great HR chase of 1998. They fawned on McGwire and Sosa, told us how they’d saved the game after the 1994 strike by again sparking interest in baseball among a fan base mostly fed up with multi-millionaires bickering over money.

Then a container of androstenedione, a body-building supplement that is completely legal, was seen in his locker, and whispers of steroid abuse started. Circumstantial evidence (Jose Canseco’s book, McGwire’s ‘testimony’ before the Senate Committee) have ‘proven’ to these journalists that Mark is guilty. So the jealous high-school girl came out of them, demanding they exact some measure of revenge.

That’s why McGwire didn’t win the MVP in 1998 (dressed up as his team didn’t make the playoffs). And that’s why we’ve seen a proliferation of stories in national media from guys with votes who say they won’t elect McGwire to the hall. They want to send a ‘Statement’. Remember, this is the same organization that didn’t vote Ted Williams (arguably the greatest hitter who ever dug in) into the Hall on his first ballot because he was ‘mean to the media’.

Which. Pisses. Me. Off.

You want make a ‘Statement’? Let’s start here. Work to indict these people with malicious negligence and conduct detrimental to the game:

1. Donald Fehr, Bud Selig, Fay Vincent, Bartlett Giamatti – the men entrusted with running the league who allowed steroid abuse to start and fester.
2. All those team employees in positions of authority and responsibility (managers and GMs) who knew about the steroid abuse and DID NOTHING TO STOP IT.

Have the following personnel brought up on manslaughter charges: Those who employed Ken Caminiti and allowed him to abuse his body with steroids, which indirectly led to his death.

Work to remove the MVP awards for players ‘suspected’ to have used steroids (Bonds, Caminiti, Sosa, Tejada, Juan Gonzalez, da-da da-da da-da). Hell, if we’re going to pick on McGwire based on circumstantial evidence, let’s pick on everyone.

But no, it’s so much easier to crucify McGwire.

You say this is a moral issue? McGwire ‘violated the trust of the game’? Fine. Then I expect the organization to work with the HOF and remove those already ensrined people who exemplified low moral fiber. Here’s a short list:

Babe Ruth (alcoholic and womanizer), Cap Anson (Racist), Ty Cobb (Racist), Fergie Jenkins (Pothead), Orlando Cepeda (Pothead), Grover Cleveland Alexander (alcoholic), Rogers Hornsby (curmudgeon), John McGraw (curmudgeon), Reggie Jackson (general principle).

But no, we can’t do that – they deserve to be there based on their STATISTICS, right?

May I remind you of some pertinent facts on Mark McGwire:

1987 ROY
12-time All Star (1987-1992; 1995-2000)
Finished in top 6 for MVP 4 times (1987 6th; 1992 4th; 1998 2nd; 1999 5th).
3-time Silver Slugger Award (1992, 1996, 1998).
Gold Glove (1990)
583 Career HR.
Single season HR record holder (1998-2001).

Those look like HOF numbers to me.

Mark is also made of sterner stuff than those folks listed above. McGwire donated $3 Million dollars of his 2001 contract extension to ‘start a foundation to aid abused and neglected children’. He will not participate in any autograph enterprise where he charges people money to get his autograph. AND, when called in front of the ‘green table’ (Navy slang for Captain’s Mast), he refused to incriminate himself (oh yeah, that’s a protection guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment), but did so without lying (unlike Rafael Palmerio).

How can you not vote this man in?

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