Roberto Alomar, check. Bert Blyleven, check.
Mark McGwire, not even close.
Hall of Fame voters recently decided on this year’s inductees for baseball’s highest honor. And for a change, much of the buzz centered on who didn’t make the cut.
McGwire would prove to be the ultimate bellwether. Whispers over performance-enhancing-drug use had followed him for years. But his reign as America’s home-run-crushing sweetheart came to a final, crashing halt when, in 2005, he appeared before a Congressional hearing on past steroid use and refused to talk about the past.
That one always kills me.
Apparently it killed Big Mac too, because this year he received a measly 20 percent of the vote for HOF induction. That’s significant, because in 2010 he got 24 percent.
What changed in the ensuing 12 months? For one, McGwire in 2010 returned to baseball, this time as a hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. (Let’s just be thankful there wasn’t an opening for team pharmacist.)
And with that came a tearful admission of past steroid use…albeit to help him recover from injury, he claimed, not to hit homers into the next county.
Which means his mea culpa actually managed to piss off more people than it actually placated. Tough crowd.
So it got me thinking: Should past steroid use — confirmed or alleged — automatically disqualify a candidate from induction into the Hall of Fame? Is it right to penalize someone simply for being connected with steroids?
Another point to consider: PEDs weren’t illegal at the time McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, et al. are suspected of juicing. Does that come into play?
Baseball is a sport that reveres its history, and its records. But like it or not, many of those records have fallen. Are the players entirely to blame, or does Major League Baseball share some culpability for allowing its stars to get, well, too big?
As always, I invite your feedback.