Friday, December 22, 2006

Paying the Price

Does Mark McGwire belong in the Hall of Fame? That's a question that baseball writers are faced with this month, as the slugger comes up on the ballot for the first time. Although he seemed like a shoo-in when he retired, the voters are looking at his candidacy in a different light now, and more and more of them are saying "no." Growing suspicions that his home run record was fueled by steroid use and his refusal to address the subject when called before a Congressional committee seem to have swayed public opinion.

Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News is one of those voters weighing in.
I'm not voting for McGwire. What would I tell my kids, who saw my disgust at the congressional hearings in March 2005 and have heard my opinion over the years? "Sure, I think he cheated, but look at the rate at which he hit homers! Let's enshrine him forever!"

Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune is another:
Perhaps, in the best interests of the game, Mark McGwire should wait a while for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. ... Under normal circumstances, McGwire and his 583 career home runs would merit serious consideration. However, McGwire's situation is anything but normal because he is Exhibit A from an era tainted by the suspicion of performance-enhancing substances.

McGwire does have at least one prominent supporter, though it's not clear if it helps or hurts his case. Pete Rose, who was banned from baseball and the Hall for gambling, told the Associated Press that McGwire ought to be voted in.
"Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, I think they kind of saved the game in (1998) with the home run contest," Rose said. "That home run derby kind of brought baseball back."