Today during my lunch break, I was watching “Around the Horn” at the pizza place (it was more of a “linner” or “dunch” break–I was on a late shift). I noticed they were talking about the Mark McGwire issue. Monday, the Hall of Fame ballots went out with his name on them. Not the did-he-or-didn’t-he-inject issue—that’s basically settled—but the would-you-or-wouldn’t-you-vote-for-him issue. But I couldn’t hear what they were saying, alas, because the sound was off. (What’s the point of having “Around the Horn” on at the pizza place if you’re not going to have the sound on, folks?) So I did some research.
The only guest who seems to have anything published (and easily find-able on the internet) so far is the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan. He’s not voting for McGwire:
That glorious weekend in St. Louis eight years ago? I now feel I was used. And I’m sorry, but I cannot get past that sad day in March 2005 when Mark McGwire appeared before the House Government Reform Committee and became the first American citizen to invoke the 4 1/2 Amendment. Asked if he had used performance-enhancing substances, he said, “My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself.”
And then there was this classic: “I’m not here to talk about the past,” he whimpered.
Well, Mark, if you can’t bring yourself to talk about your past, I don’t see any reason why we should waste time evaluating it.
(Another guest was our favorite here on UmpBump, Chicago Sun-Times scribe Jay Mariotti. But he hasn’t written on the issue yet, it seems. Let us take a moment to be sad about this. Okay, moving on.)
Of course, the AP, being the AP, has already conducted an informal poll:
The Associated Press contacted about 150 of the approximately 575 people who are eligible to cast ballots. Of that number, 125 responded. Of those, 74 said they will not vote for McGwire, 23 will vote for him, 16 are undecided, five refused to say, five aren’t allowed to vote by their employers and two will abstain.
That means if all the undecideds and those refusing to say voted for McGwire, and everyone else voted, McGwire would need 84% of the rest to get into the Hall.
Hmm, so, okay, math. Unless the self-selecting sample that responded is extremely skewed, I’d say that McGwire’s chances of getting in are…remote. (Red Roof Inn, anyone?)
To get another perspective, I tried to find someone besides Tony LaRussa who thought Big Mac should be in the Hall. I had to go all the way to Canada. Canada! Folks, I give you Stephen Brunt:
The Hall of Fame is a place reserved for very good baseball players, not necessarily the same thing as very good human beings. Pete Rose is excluded because he violated a rule that is written on every clubhouse wall. McGwire did no such thing. There was no rule. And all the while he was encouraged, lauded, made wealthy — and exploited to make everyone associated with the game more wealthy as well.
McGwire ought to be in Cooperstown, where his plaque can serve as a permanent reminder of the hypocrisy of the times.
Shame on him. Shame on baseball. Shame on the commissioner. Shame on the press. Shame on those who perpetuated the myth and prospered.
Hmm. Even that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. I see a lot of shaming going on in that graf.
Let’s try AP sports columnist Tim Dahlberg, who points out that Maris himself isn’t in the Hall. (What, really?) Dahlberg invokes poor confused fans and grasping baseball bigwigs and then, as he gathers steam towards the end of his column, produces this tour-de-force:
McGwire became a very wealthy man playing baseball, and it wasn’t just because some team owner gave him his millions. That money came from fans who bought tickets, fans who scraped together enough money to bring their kids to the game to watch him play.
McGwire owes those fans something for their money.
Yeah, jagoff! Think of the children! Think of little Timmy. Tiny Tim! He sold his crutch to see you play!
But wait, there’s more:
If he didn’t do anything wrong, he should have taken the opportunity while under oath before Congress to say so. He didn’t, so now those fans and writers simply — and rightfully so — assume the worst.
McGwire may still some day go into the Hall of Fame. But it’s not going to happen until he comes clean — really clean.
You hear me, Mark? REALLY CLEAN! Like hospital clean! Eat-off-the-floor clean! Zestfully clean!
I’m very upset. I need to go drink an entire bottle of wine, by myself, while watching Bridget Jones’s Diary and flipping through the Pottery Barn catalog. I’m just so overwhelmed thinking about the children. THE CHILDREN, MARK.
Oh, and if I could vote? I’d also go with “nay” on that one. Why? Well, because of the children, and little Timmy, and also the shame. But mostly just because even if there wasn’t a rule, there goddamn well shoulda been. You know? The players of today should know that integrity counts. And that even if there isn’t a rule, if it feels like cheating, it probably is. And you can make your millions and even break your records. But there’s a bunch of elitist media types waiting for you on the other side of the white light of retirement. And they will sit in judgment upon thee, and if you want admittance to the pearly gates of Cooperstown, you better remember it. Because goddammit, it was hard being the nerdy ones in high school. Now it’s your turn to pay, jock boy!