And this just in -- Deadspin.com reports that McGwire's younger brother is apparently shopping a tell-all book to publishers that declares he introduced steroids to the slugger.
They start off with a relatively low percentage of the vote, generally in the 10 to 20 percent range, then steadily gain a few percentage points each year. Every once in a while, a little jump comes, and then finally, some time after a decade or more on the ballot, the player finally garners enough support to be inducted. Look at the paths of guys like Bruce Sutter, or this year's inductee (non-Rickey division), Jim Rice.
The question is, why?
So the argument goes that while McGwire put up Hall of Fame-type numbers, those stats are tainted by how he was able to produce them.
But as time has passed, revisionist history has begun to creep in. Witness the following from Sean McAdam, of the Boston Herald:
I think he was largely a one-dimensional player. And there is overwhelming evidence that his power was achieved, at least partially, through artificial and illegal enhancement.
Now, I don't disagree with Mr. McAdam that McGwire was, in, all likelihood, an ingester of steroids. But a one-dimensional player? McGwire actually played very good defense at first base, though later in his career his range in the field was hampered by leg injuries. That said, he won a Gold Glove in 1990, and was a solid fielder in his early years.
He didn't steal bases, but his career on-base percentage was .394 (Gwynn's was .388). His batting average may have only been .263, but to characterize him as one-dimensional is to ignore both his on-base skills and solid glove work.
We all know why McGwire isn't in the Hall of Fame. It begins and ends with the steroids.
Clemens would probably be okay if he would have just shut up and gone away; now he has permanently damaged his reputation and legacy far worse than ever could have been done without his participation.
McGwire has disappeared from public life, yet he is still the man who stuttered "Steroids is, is bad," in front of Congress and refused to just tell us all that he was wrong, that they were all wrong, that the whole era was wrong.
Technically, that puts them back on a level playing field. Of course, then they're both cheaters, so we could kick them both out and expunge their records. But then, what about all the other hitters or pitchers they faced? Well, those guys were maybe clean, but maybe dirty, so we should... See? It's complicated.The problem with the steroid question is this: When you have an era with so many variables as to who was and wasn't clean, it gets to the point where you can't trust any of the results.
It's the same argument that has been made since, well, ever about gambling. If it's possible that gambling is affecting the game, the argument goes, then how can you possibly believe in the results? To me, the steroid era is exactly the same way. I have no idea what results to trust and which to discount. So in the end I've come to the conclusion that either you let them all in based on their on-field performance, or none of them. No one from the steroid era, no matter how squeaky-clean they may appear, or everyone who had the numbers. There's no way of ever sorting through the morass and finding the truth, and believing that you really do know the truth is just a sad illusion.