Big Mac — hold the cheese

12 01 2010

Now that Mark McGwire admitted what everyone had suspected for the better part of a decade, can he just get inducted into the Hall of Fame already? After all, he’ll be alone in 9th place on the all-time home run list with 583 once Alex Rodriguez parks his first long ball next season. He’s 11th in OPS with a .982 mark, which is a result of his .394 career on-base percentage and .588 slugging percentage.

If the Hall of Fame is supposed to be a representation of the game’s most significant players, then McGwire certainly qualifies. He’s a 12-time All-Star with a Rookie of the Year award, three Top 5 finishes in MVP voting in two different leagues and a World Series ring. I still don’t understand the reasoning for keeping him out of the Hall.

To belittle McGwire’s candidacy because of his steroid use runs counter to how baseballers have been treated for most of history. The Baseball Hall of Fame is filled with despicable characters who have been inducted strictly for their on-field performance — not for their character. Gaylord Perry spitballed his way to 314 wins but nobody seemed to care that he was inducted, perhaps because he didn’t alter his body to improve his performance.

I don’t care anymore that Big Mac might have gained an extra 50 or 100 or 200 homers during his career from steroids. He clearly had the capacity to hit lots of homers. (He hit 31 homers in 237 at-bats in 1984 at USC and 24 big ones in 489 at-bats at Class A Modesto in ’85.) He just wouldn’t have been able to make it through his career without the recuperating powers of steroids and who knows what other drugs. The list of stars who used steroids from the early ’90s through the mid-’00s is clearly longer than the ones who didn’t.

At some point, a fight isn’t worth fighting. It’s time to move on, concede that the era of most of our childhood was warped and live with the fact that there were a large allotment of very good to great players who were savvy enough to take advantage of the fact MLB never implemented rules to police its players.

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