Monday, December 11, 2006
Mark McGwire will never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame because 1.) He took steroids and 2.) He wasn’t honest about it. People as a rule are a pretty forgiving bunch. We forgive crooked politicians, philandering celebrities, drug-riddled athletes and all sorts of crimes committed by people in the news. But, if you aren’t honest and contrite after being caught or exposed for a wrongdoing, folks will hold it against you for life. Some prime examples are Pete Rose, O.J. Simpson and Richard Nixon. Pete Rose lied about gambling until he thought he had a shot at being in the Hall of Fame and getting back into baseball, but by then it was too late. O.J. has never admitted murdering Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, and America hates him now more than ever. And Nixon never clearly explained the Watergate situation and all that erased tape, so he goes down in history as a liar and an unforgiven man. The truth is that you can do crank with gay hookers while watching satanic porno and hitting on pages and people will forgive you if you come clean. But, McGwire chose another route and the end result is that he’ll never reach the pinnacle in Cooperstown. If it weren’t for the steroid issue, the former bash brother would probably be a first-ballot slam dunk selection. He hit 583 career homers, which by itself should be enough to get him there. But, if you analyze his stats a little more closely, there are arguments for his absence in the Hall. He played 16 seasons and got 1,626 hits. There are only 13 players currently in the HOF with less. Then, add in the fact that he hit .263 lifetime, and the case against him becomes stronger. A lot of players with lower averages are in the Hall, including huge names like Harmon Killebrew (.256) and Mike Schmidt (.267). But, both of them played longer than Mac did and had more career hits. When you look even more carefully at McGwire’s career, you’ll see he wasn’t a big doubles guy (252), nor was he much of an RBI man (1,414). The latter is an indication that the man hit a lot of solo dingers and/or wasn’t a real run-producing threat. When questioned by Congress Mark McGwire stated that he didn’t want to “talk about the past.” Big, big mistake. I’m not suggesting he should have pointed his finger and vehemently denied the entire affair like Rafael Palmeiro did, but I think he should have at least admitted to some culpability, like Jason Giambi did. Is anyone harping on Giambi now? Hell no. People think he’s a mensch. And they’ve lost all respect for McGwire, who just eight years ago was America’s darling and baseball’s savior. And that’s why he’ll never get into the Hall of Fame. Mac is destined to stand outside the sacred shrine of baseball superiority for an eternity, peering forlornly through the window, alone and uninvited to the big party. That is, of course, unless the powers that be decide to build a Wing of Shame sometime soon!