It’s official, Mark McGwire did not get elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. More than 75 percent of the baseball writers who cast votes for induction into the Hall made a statement against the alleged steroid user. Meantime those same voters had no problem voting in Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. Both Ripken and Gwynn received more than 97 percent of the votes cast. Both were great players who deserved induction. Ripken will be remembered first for his Ironman streak of more than 2600 consecutive games played for the Baltimore Orioles. Gwynn will be remembered for being one of the greatest hitters in baseball history with a lifetime .338 batting average – the best since Ted Williams.
But Mark McGwire will mostly be remembered by writers and some fans for refusing to address questions on Capitol Hill a couple of years ago about steroid use in baseball as TV cameras slowly zoomed in on what looked to be his dishonest face. His shaky testimony before lawmakers to some absolutely meant McGwire was guilty of using performance enhancing drugs to hit his tape measure home runs. Soon after a lot of sportswriters couldn’t wait to be judge and jury. These are the same sportwriters who gushed without shame in 1998 when McGwire hit his record breaking 62nd home run and finished the season with 70.
Should we care whether McGwire was a steroid user? Perhaps we should. But the fact remains that in an era when it now appears that untold numbers of players were using steroids and human growth hormone and everyone inside baseball knew about it, including writers, the hypocracy resulting in the Hall of Fame voting becomes almost shameful.
I feel sorry for McGwire. He like a handful of “obvious” alleged steroid users was caught in a trap of negative public opinion and writers’ grandstanding without any real proof. The facts are that McGwire never failed a drug test. He also never admitted to taking illegal drugs. His only real crime is that he just “looked like” he used lots of steroids. And sportswriters looking for a scapegoat conveniently found one in McGwire, even though they, like us, will never know for sure if McGwire did or did not “cheat”. Just like none of us will ever know whether the “good guys” Ripken and Gwynn used performance enhancing drugs either. But one thing is clear – on Hall of Fame election day the righteous hypocrites who pick and choose our heroes have indeed cast the first stone.