The Hall of Fame voting came and went and remarkably…Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn made it while Mark McGwire did not. No surprises, right? Not from this guy. It's a shame that lost in the "did he" or "didn't he" do steroids debate, the hypocrisy of the Hall of Fame voters is going virtually unnoticed. Say what? Okay…pay attention. There are baseball writers out there who intentionally left their ballots blank to protest the "Steroid Era" and, more specifically, McGwire.
Let me get this straight… writers are protesting Major League Baseball's "Steroid Era" (post 1994) by NOT voting in McGwire, BUT…they are overwhelmingly (almost unanimously) voting in Ripken and Gwynn?!? I'm not saying Ripken and Gwynn used steroids (Hell, I'm not saying McGwire did or didn't), but weren't all three of them on their first ballot this year? I mean, doesn't that mean that they ALL retired in 2001? Doesn't that mean that all three of them played during the "Steroid Era"?
You following me?
If you're going to make McGwire the poster boy for steroids (and let's be honest…whatever dude was taking wasn't banned by baseball and therefore LEGAL in the sport), you've got to punish his brothers as well.
Let's look at Ripken's numbers post 1994. His .276 Batting Average is EXACTLY on par with his career average. His home runs, RBI and hits…all down. Clearly he showed the signs of decline after ending "the streak". Should he have hung it up after 2000 when he got his 3000 hit? Maybe...but why not stick it out another year and get the accolades. I used to be on the fence with Ripken…after looking at his numbers, I'm a fan.
Anthony Keith Gwynn on the other hand…let's look at his numbers post 1994. The .353 Batting Average is higher than his career .338…BUT his .371 between 1994 and 1997 (the same time that McGwire's numbers started to balloon is what puzzles me. Gwynn ended up with a paltry 135 home runs over his career…of course he hit 69 (more than half) of them between 1994 and 1999.
Let me put that into perspective…if I can.
Between 1994 and 2001, Tony Gwynn hit 51% of his career home runs. Mark McGwire belted 60% of his career bombs in that same period. I'm not saying Gwynn's numbers were inflated due to steroids…but his RBI totals of 90 and 119 in 1995 and 1997 do make you wonder considering his career best prior to that was 72.
Here's my point. If the Hall of Fame voters are going to leave Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame because of his alleged steroid abuse in the 1990s…they need to look at the stats of some of the players they are enshrining. Again, I'm not saying that anyone did or didn't juice up…I'm just suggesting the playing field be level. Are McGwire's numbers Hall worthy? Outside of some mammoth home runs and magical moments…probably not. Take into consideration that he was a twelve time all-star and you might have a case.
I look at it this way…subtract his home runs and you've got an oft-injured guy who hit .263 with 1626 hits, 1414 RBI and a mere 252 doubles. Compare those numbers to some guys who will NEVER make the Hall (Albert Belle for one) and all you can say is...UGLY.
So come on, baseball writers, quit hiding behind the "Steroid Era" bullshit…ESPECIALLY when you are going to be hypocrites and allow two others that played during the SAME EXACT TIME into the Hall with the third and seventh highest percentages EVER! I'd wager a majority of the guys bashing McGwire also jerked him off as he and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris. You got egg on your face, fellas, but no one did ANYTHING wrong. The ball and the players were juiced and YOU rode it all the way to the bank and loved it.
Next year...get it right and let in Goose, Hawk and Rice.