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Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Hall of Fame should deal with Steroid Era

As concerned with morality and integrity as I am when it comes to applying such principles to sports – and all life situations – I must say it bothers me that the greatest slugger of my generation appears to be a questionable (at best) selection to the Hall of Fame. In fact, at this point, it seems more likely that I receive fan mail from Alicia Silverstone before the man in question is inducted.

Of course I am talking about Mark McGwire who took it up the rump by the baseball writers, gaining just 23.5% of 75% necessary to be elected to the Hall. Yes, Big Mac is the epitomy of a potential roider in baseball. Yes, his comments in front of congress were utterly ignorant, idiotic, and downright incriminating. But dammit, he is one of the greatest power hitters of all-time, let alone my generation.

Let’s start the laundry list of over-qualification. Tucked away in McGwire’s belt are 13 All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, a Gold Glove, 3 Silver Slugger awards, 583 career bombs (7th all-time), and the omnipresent single-season home run record in 1998. Big Mac was in the top 5 of his league in home runs 9 times. 9 times, an entire decade! He was in the top 5 in the his league in OPS 6 times. He led the league in home runs per at-bat 7 times. For his career, McGwire hit home runs at a more frequent rate than any other player who ever batted in the Major Leagues.

Now that we have his qualifications out of the way, let’s get into the steroids debate. I am naive as Mark Mangino is skinny. I know the chance that McGwire’s career accomplishments were performance-enhancer free is smaller than the percentage of votes he received on the ballot. Still, his accomplishments, along with every other deserving (ceteris paribus) candidate from the Steroid Era needs to be recognized.

As much as I doubt the legitimacy of several Hall of Fame deserving players – Bonds, Clemens, Pujols – I am 100% certain that they must be recognized some way or another in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Yes, under current rules, writers who have suspicion that McGwire used steroids were acting wisely when they didn’t vote for Mark. In case you missed it, the Baseball Hall of Fame is different from the halls of fame of other sports.

5. Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Breaking it down in simple chat room form, if you feel a player’s accomplishments were tainted by steroids, then in turn you are questioning his integrity, sportsmanship, and character. That’s half the criteria to be elected! So yes, under current rules, writers are doing the right thing. That is precisely why the Baseball Hall of Fame needs to amend its voting rules – as it has the ability to do.

9. Amendments The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time.

The solution is simple; the Baseball Hall of Fame must create a separate wing/exhibit (as they already do for the Negro Leagues and women in baseball) where the deserving players may be rightfully enshrined.

How to define the Steroid Era is difficult. My criteria would be anyone whose playing career ran for any ten years in between 1992-2005. ’92 is my arbitrary year that is subject to change and discussion, 2005 is chosen because that’s when baseball began to test for steroids.Bottom line, when skinny punks like Alex Sanchez, Mike Morse, Guillermo Mota, and many others are busted, including several pitchers – who lets be real – none of us suspected – are getting busted, it puts EVERYONE in question.

I believe the majority of players in the aforementioned years used performance-enhancers. I actually feel that players using substances was the norm for that time period. That is why I feel that the Hall of Fame needs to recognize the players who stood out in the Steroid Era, but they need to do so separately.



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