Monday, November 27, 2006

Mark McGwire: In or Out of Hall of Fame?

Mark McGwire is on the Hall of Fame ballot. I'd like to know what you would do if you were a voter. Here are your choices:

(a) Yes in 2007
(b) No in '07, Yes eventually
(c) No, never

I'm betting the voter consensus coagulates around Choice B, which seems to me as bankrupt a choice as the voters could make. Essentially, Choice B is punitive, which doesn't seem to be the Hall of Fame voters' job. Who assigned them the role of morality police? (I've long argued that the BBWAA has no business exclusively bestowing Hall status, but that's an argument for another time.)

Voters' choice should be: In or out now? Worthy or not now? Not "Yes, he's Hall-worthy, but just not THIS year because we should make him wait because there's a good chance he was juicing." If you don't think he's worthy because of the taint of steroids, you should NEVER put him in. How will waiting a year change the taint, aside from totally undercutting the intent of the original statement?

My take: If I was a voter, I would vote him in right now, even though I suspect he was a cheating d-bag. The entire era is tainted; to single out McGwire because he's the poster guy for it seems unfair. History, not Hall placement, will judge McGwire and his peers, much like the way that most fans now mock the one-time conventional wisdom that McGwire helped "save" baseball, an analysis that no self-respecting fan or expert can possibly maintain.

50 comments:

CMFost said...

It is a hard question to answer since we have no real proof that he did steriods only evidence that points to it.

But my vote would be "c", I actually think he is only a border line hall of famer to begin with

Some of his stats
BA - Career .263
H - 1626
HR - 583
RBI - 1414
Only once hit over .300 for a season when playing more then 130 games

K - 1596
BB - 1317
R - 1167

7th all time for HR's
60th all time for RBI's
9th all time for slugging
Not in the top 100 for runs scored
23rd all time for K's

nyc-steelers fan said...

lemme guess, dan, the bbwaa shouldn't elect hall players - they should do it on a fan vote on espn.com; and they shouldn't mandate a 5 yr retirement period; they shouldn't mandate any retirement period; they should give it to every guy who has ever won a golden glove, or been voted to an all-star game...
I think baseball has it right, in general, with the hall - the very top-tier guys get in on the first vote, the next notch gets in when there is a down year, and if there is no consensus about the guy, he just doesn't get in. Just because the red sox fans love jim rice isn't enough to get him in, because you can assume there are enough objective guys out there to buffer the shlurpers (personally, I think dale murphy should be in, but if there's no consensus, I don't have a problem with it. It kept mattingly from wrongly getting in. The point is, there are no imposters in the baseball hall of fame.)

Having said that, I think you're right about the moral policing. There is no smoking gun with the guy. Let him in. He was, without a doubt, one of the most dominant baseball players ever. And I think he will get in first ballot. The more interesting question is going to be raffy...

Ben said...

I think McGwire is in, as much as it pains me to say so. The guy did hit 47 HRs as a rookie i believe, and more then likely before he was on the juice. The only knock against him would be that he wasn't ever really healthy enough, was a liability in the field. Oh and the fact that over 1/2 of his HR's came after he started using. And anybody that doesn't think that he used 'roids, just needs to take a look at him as a 180lb rookie, and then as a 275lb man when he finished his career.

adam said...

McGwire is in on the first ballot. Since he was the best of the steriod users. What people forget is how many pitchers were using it then and now. They are all the ones still getting caught! No one makes a big deal about all the pitchers. For the record Bonds gets in on my first ballot too.

Josh said...

I say the answer is "b". He'll get in, but not in '07. Too many people are still upset about his congressional testimony to support his HOF status as a first timer on the ballot. He'll get in based on his home run prowess alone, and those that try and hold the steroids era over his head need to remember that during that "magical" season and the battle with Sosa, McGwire never denied that he was taking andro which, at the time, was not a banned substance. So, are we now supposed to make the rules retroactive? And if so, how far back do we go?

Jason said...

No, no, no.

If I voted, McGwire wouldn't be in. Nor would Sosa. Nor would Palmeiro. EVER. I don't care how many home runs any of the assholes hit, you cheat, then no. Rose isn't in, neither is Shoeless Joe. Why ruin the integrity of the hall?

In 2 out of 3 of the above names, their numbers plummeted once drug testing became the norm. The other left before he had the chance.

As much as I hate him, Bonds may be an exception; his numbers have remained strong and though I don't doubt for a moment he used steroids, he would have been in before the 2001 and on seasons and that pains me to no end.

Anonymous said...

McGwire: A better Dave Kingman?

Big D said...

I've had a few long discussions on this issue in the past with a lot of people. After weighing all the options many, many, many times, I've come to a very disheartening conclusion:

Whether or not we believe McGwire, or Sosa, or Bonds was cheating, we can't prove it. There is no needle in the trash can, there is no positive steroids test.

The argument for keeping them out centers around "But everybody knows that they were doing it..." And 500 years ago, everybody knew that the world was flat.

I hate the fact that I'm taking the loophole approach to this, but with players like Rose and Joe Jackson, there was proof of guilt. With Raffy, there's proof of guilt, no matter how many teammates he tries to blame.

McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds might be "tainted", but they're all still Hall-of-Famers, until science - or at least more substantive than mere speculation - tells us otherwise.

Brian in Oxford said...

I say out. I don't think he was that good. The guy hit .201 over the FULL 1991 season, for freakin' sake. Wouldn't that be his peak?!

He hit 70 homers one year. Nice. Roger Maris isn't in the Hall of Fame either, and his homer record lasted longer than 3 years.

As he bulked up, he made more and more errors in the field, too. So that's not going to tilt a wavering argument in his favor, either.

Bonds, on the other hand, was way better, and it becomes (for me) a completely different argument.

Gary said...

Jason, by that logic Pete Rose should be in as well. Pete Rose was a hall-of-famer before he gambled on baseball.

If the cheating keeps you out, all guys caught cheating should be kept out, you can't have it both ways.

The fact remains that only Palmerio got caught using roids, so only he should be precluded from the HOF.

McGwire, Bonds and even Sosa were never caught (publically) so they should get in if their performances merit it.

Jason said...

True, gary. I suppose it's an all or none sort of argument.

I'm more willing to take none than all.

Benvious said...

You CAN'T use the cheat tag to not vote him in. It shouldn't even enter the discussion. Plain and simple, he never failed a drug test. The fact that he didn't have to take one is irrelevant. In the U.S., you're innocent until PROVEN guilty.

Take the "stink" of steroids out of the equation, McGwire is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best of the best. McGwire was without peer in power hitting for over a decade. Other than Barry Bonds, NOBODY in baseball scared pitchers more than McGwire every single time he came to the plate.

He was also listed as one of the top 100 players of ALL TIME by the Sporting News near the end of his career. I don't know that I agree with them, but anyone that can even legitmately enter the argument of top 100 of all time is a Hall of Famer to me.

Also, someone mentioned he was a liability in the field. Maybe my memory is bad, but I recall him being average in the field, even good enough to win a gold glove in 1990. He certainly wasn't a liability along the lines of Big Papi or Jason Giambi.

And finally, character usually gets attention. Well, again removing the stink of steroids, here's a guy who runs a charity for battered women and children who have been physically and sexually abused.

rafael said...

I would vote NO.

Even without the Steroids taint, I don't think he was that good of a player. Just hitting a few homeruns is not enough to get you into the Hall...or at least it shouldn't be enough. Of course, the writers will vote him in...they dont' have any braincells left anyways.

He couldn't field, he couldn't hit for average, he didn't make his teams that much better...he's no Hall of Famer.

Richard said...

Very easy answer here:

In right away. No wait necessary.

Consider that worst case senario is that he was juicing, but never broke a single MLB rule. To Jason and others that would call him a cheater: cheating is when you break a rule...McGwire did no such thing.

(If you're going to leave users out of the hall, you'd have to ban anyone who played during my lifetime.)

Lance A Boyle said...

It's become evident as I've grown older and become disillusioned that the great game that I loved as a child is riddled with "taint." We had half a century of a separate Negro League. We had a dead ball era. We had half a decade of WWII disruption of the game. We had the pitching era. We had the DH era. Now we've got the steroid era. As a youngster, I was wrong to believe that baseball was the one game where you could actually compare players from one generation to the next. You can't.

So, separate the Hall into sections. Give amnesty to everyone. Tell them that their name will go on the ballot in two places: (1) The normal ballot, and (2) The Amnestiy Ballot. Give voters the opportunity to elect based on their current suspicions. Then give them the opportunity to vote on players who have accepted amnesty. Set up a special wing of the Hall for those Amnesty players. And throw Pete Rose and Joe Jackson in that wing, as well.

As far as MY vote for McGwire, I'd say "no" on both counts. He was just a juiced-up Dave Kingman.

FutureLegendVinceYoung said...

I am with Dan that the BBWAA should not have the final say on who gets elected to the Hall. This is the same group that counted Bill Conlin as one of their members and that fat fuck was the only person to not vote for Nolan Ryan the year he was eligible. The fact that players like Ruth, Mantle, Williams, Johnson and countless other greats have not received 100% of the vote shows that these writers do not know what they are doing and should not be the only voice when it comes to enshrinement.

As for McGwire he should go in as a first ballot. Some of the writers are mad because he was part of the Steroid era but it is not like he was the only one who was using.

I am also fine with him not getting in this year but waiting for next year since Ripken and Gwynn will be the other inductess and McGwire's prescene may take away attention away from both Gwynn and Ripken two of the more popular players in the 1980s and early 90s.

Cycledan said...

I vote (C)


Just on the basis of hitting HRs I don't think someone qualifies for the HOF in any event. Dave Kingman hit a lot of HRs - is he HOF material?

CMFost said...

are these the stats of a hall of famer.

BA - Career .263 - NO
H - 1626 - No
HR - 583 - Yes
RBI - 1414 - No
K - 1596 - NO
BB - 1317 - No
R - 1167 - No

There is only one category in my mind that he makes the grade as a Hall of Famer and I do not think that is enough to put him in the hall.

I would consider Jim Rice a better player then McGwire and he is not in.

Let's compare the 2 and you tell me who should be in the Hall

Batting Average
McGwire - .263
Rice - .298

Hits
McGwire - 1626
Rice - 2452

HR
McGwire - 583
Rice - 382

RBI
McGwire - 1414
Rice - 1451

Runs
McGwire - 1167
Rice - 1249

K
McGwire - 1596
Rice - 1423

OBP
McGwire - 394
Rice - .352

Slg.
McGwire - .588
Rice - .502

OPS
McGwire - .982
Rice - .852

Ken said...

Hehe, you said, "taint".


How has no one else taken the juvenile route yet?

I hope everybody had a Happy Thanksgiving. Everything was going well for me before Notre Dame and the Giants shit the bed. Not the best football weekend I've ever had.

marcomarco said...

(a) Yes in 2007

Never had a positive test, never broke any written rules.

He may be suspicious in the public eye, but without a conviction, his stats should hold their own.

Not voting him in is a version of 'Street Justice', and it should be consistently applied to Sosa, Canseco, Camineti, Bonds, Giambi, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'd vote (C) because you can't let someone who chemically altered his body into the Hall of Fame.

And as some people have already stated he may not be Hall worthy anyways. Take away his Home Runs and he's just a below average ballplayer.

Big D said...

@ cmfost:

Good argument in your second comment, comparing McGwire to Rice. I'm biased as a Red Sox fan, even though Rice's glory years were a little before my time.

I also like one of the points that startvinceyoung made - McGwire's inclusion in this year's ceremony would serve as a huge distraction to the automatic induction of Ripken & Gwynn, two of the most universally liked and respected players of the last twenty years.

Maybe leaving Big Mac out for a year would serve as a "slap on the wrist", as well as dodge a major controversy that would take away from the achievements of Ripken & Gwynn.

Not that there wouldn't be just as big of a shitstorm if he wasn't voted in, but at least we wouldn't have three nights of "Baseball Tonight" dedicated to the life and times of Mark McGwire, with puff pieces from Jeremy Schaap and Buster Olney...

Wow, sorry. Went on a little rant there. I'll calm down shortly.

Generik said...

I honestly don't know how you can totally discount the argument that he and Sosa brought baseball back into prominence. I had totally given up interest in MLB until the middle of that epic season where both of them were gunning for that record. I still remember where I was when I watched him officially hit #62. I was in a room with a bunch of people who avidly declare they despise baseball as a sport but they were all hollaring and high fiving as that ball left the park. Can you deny that for at least 2 seasons he was THE face of baseball?

Personally I don't think the evidence warrants an exclusion for him from the Hall. I don't condone roid use, but if nobody can definitively prove he did it, then that arguement shouldn't even be involved in the decision process.

Anonymous said...

Um... it wasn't even cheating at the time.

People put too much thought into the Hall of Fame. It's about F-A-M-E. If you're walking around the Hall, how do you explain the 90's with McGuire and Sosa? Can't be done. That's why Shoeless and Pete Rose should be in, too.

So I agree with Dan, this shouldn't be about morality police, it should be about history and about history and significance, and popularity is a Huuge part of that.

On a related note, are we going to include Japanese and Cuban guys with good stats or big history?

How can we not? Isn't this a global game now?

Ma4tt (the 4 is silent) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ma4tt (the 4 is silent) said...

He's in, first ballot. Only two other first-time names are locks: Cal and Gwynn. Why not put him in? For 6 years he was the most feared hitter on the planet. He was charismatic, he helped re-energize baseball (he didn't "save" it, but he obviously helped), and he was never caught breaking any rules.

Seriously - look at the dog-shit list of other candidates:

Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Dante Bichette, Bert Blyleven, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Dave Concepcion, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, Tony Fernandez, Steve Garvey, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Wally Joyner, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Paul O'Neill, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Bret Saberhagen, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Devon White, Bobby Witt.

Of those guys, the only ones I'd like to see in the Hall are Hershiser and Goose Gossage. I can't even get worked up about Jim Rice. I just can't.

Troy (Gainesville, FL) said...

Mark McGwire not in the Hall makes about as much sense as Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, or Roger Maris not in the Hall. Just criminal. One of the all-time sluggers and a poster boy of his era (for better or worse). There's no way you could tell the story of baseball in the 80's and 90's and leave him out.

Geoff-Detroit said...

I like how you list Alan Trammell as one of the "Dog-shit list of other candidates" when he had better numbers than Ozzie Smith, who was a first ballot HOFer.

SF said...

In. Now. Final.
As much as I hate the crying she-male, the guys numbers, (583 hr, 1414 rbi) are enough, when paired with the fact that he is one of baseball's saving graces, to get him in. there are a number of people who are in cooperstown who never played the game (and are not in the 500-hr-club), yet affected it majorly nonetheless, so why not let in big mac? i am also of the school that thinks maris should be be in, so maybe i am the asshole...but the cheating big mac has my vote...if i had a vote, that is...

Anonymous said...

Steroids, PEDs, etc. WERE illegal as of 1991(?), when Fay Vincent sent out the memo. Just at the time, no one cared.

Alan Trammell was not the defender Ozzie Smith was.

Looking at that list, I see a bunch of really good players...and only Gossage as a HOFer (unless you can put Tommy John in as a contributor for being the first guy to blow out his arm, come back, and have a surgical procedure named after him).

Eric said...

BigMac is in, Now. He did help save baseball - nobody in my neck of the woods gave a crap until that summer of 98. What a year! Who cares what they were taking? As a few have already noted - the pitches were using too...

Brendan Burke said...

As sad and wrong as this sounds, McGwire should be in the hall. He was not playing with a substance that was banned in the game of baseball. Yes it was illegal in the US, yes it was wrong on general principle, but no it was not banned by baseball.

Todd Ching said...

I'm sorry, but the answer has to be "A" or "B".

McGwire's 583 HRs are easily enough to get him in, especially given the [now irony] that he was part of that magic summer of 1998, that allegedly "saved" baseball.

I can understand the sentiment that steroid users shouldn't be in the hall, but to me it's not a whole lot different than guys who took Greenies, or other amphetimines. I guarantee you, there are quite a few guys that took Greenies that are in the Hall.

To me, it's completely hypocritical that guys who did that get a pass, but steroid users don't. They're both illegal, potentially harmful foreign substances that were banned. What's the freakin' difference?

Why is one okay and not the other?

Since unless we know for sure (as in positive test), we have to let McGwire, Sosa, et al in at some point. If not this year for Big Mac, then a few years down the road.

-Todd (Boston)

Todd Ching said...

To Solomonrex:

I agree in principle that Japanese and Cuban players should be in the hall, but they do call it the "National Baseball Hall of Fame," so unless they change that to "International", I guess that sort of makes it difficult.

-Todd (Boston)

Ben said...

I guess breaking federal laws by taking controlled substances doesn't constitute cheating in a lot of people's books. The reason that McGwire refused to testify in front of Congress is because he broke the law, not the laws of baseball, the law of the United States of America. Idiots who think that it's not cheating can move to Canada and root for the Blue Jays.

marcomarco said...

Ben,

Innocent until proven guilty, though sometimes flawed, is part of what makes this country great.

Canada indeed.

nyc-steelers fan said...

hey, big mac DID testify before congress (although that is different than a court of law, but he took the fifth. Hey, guess what, taking the fifth is Protected. Not in the court of public opinion, but the laws protect one from Opinion. Guilt is based on Fact. And anyone who believes a person should be convicted based on anything Less than Fact, is a freaking Idiot. Or at least one callous Mo-fo. Think about it; name your favorite player. If a rumor started that they were taking drugs, even if they didn't, we could exclude them from the possibility of the hall of fame based on that).

And people who call in the fact that he got quite a bit bigger as he aged, while statistically unlikely, it is not Impossible that it happened naturally.

Anyway, I was never all that enamoured by the big guy, but I think he'll be a first ballot hall of famer.Folks dig the long ball...

rafael said...

I dont care about the 'roid thing. I just don't think he was a good enough player.

But Andre Dawson should be in!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, breaking the law is NOT cheating at a game. Simple as that.

How many players in the hall never broke the law? None of them?

How many were tried and convicted, but McGuire, who has never had a fair trial, is convicted? How are you sure he was taking _anabolic_ steroids and not HGH? Was HGH illegal? Was Creatine?

This is rampant mob justice. It's embarassing. Let's celebrate his achievements until they are actually taken away.

I see now that it's the "National Baseball Hall of Fame". You're totally right. So, they don't have any Blue Jays jerseys? Will they not acknowledge the WBC?

This needs to change. We're the birthplace of baseball, and we should generously adopt every player in every nation, for all time. As a tourist attraction and a historical archive, it only makes sense. The Louvre has German artists, as well as French.

Benvious said...

Here Here Marco...

As for "got quite a bit bigger" argument for McGwire, look at nearly every slugger since the advent of weightlifting. Guys start out lean, then build bulk as they get into their late 20s and beyond.

Look as guys like Ken Griffey, or A-Rod, or even Soriano. When they were rookies, they were skinny little dudes. So, since they've each put on 30-40 pounds since then, does that mean they MUST be taking steroids? I'll grant you, McGwire probably put on closer to 100 pounds.

McGwire admitted to taking Andro. Can't emphasize this enough. IT WASN'T ILLEGAL THEN. You could buy it over the counter at any GNC store. It wasn't on the banned list by the FDA, never mind the MLB. Saying that is cheating is just stupidity rearing its ugly head.

Todd Ching said...

Solomonrex:

Couldn't agree more with the sentiment. Baseball should do something more to honor the game's international history. Perhaps there should be an additional Hall of Fame in Cooperstown dedicated to international players (non-MLB, non-Negro league), which are already covered by the "National Baseball Hall of Fame."

Maybe you know more about this than I do, so I'll ask, other than Sadaharu Oh, who were some of the more prominent Japanese players? Additionally, who were some of the more prominent Cubans who did not play state-side (a la Martin Dihigo)?

Also, can anyone recommend a book on the history of Japanese baseball? It's becoming a lot more relevant all of a sudden in this town.

And I still say people who used steroids but weren't caught deserve to be in as much as anyone who used greenies and wasn't caught. Does that argument make sense?

-Todd (Boston)

Keithsrk said...

A Big NO!

Voters need to exercise common sense in this case.

We saw him get huge...
We saw him shatter previously untouchable records...
We saw him get hurt premautrely...
We saw him shrink!

Looks like a duck to me.

This is not a court of law, it is a subjective vote - voters need to reason this out and vote accordingly. If you think he cheated, vote no (yes - I think he cheated)- if you don't think he cheated, vote yes. Nothing needs to be proved - common sense should suffice.

Kevin said...

Holy crap...Dan is right for once! I too would vote McGwire in on the first and all the other ballots - you just don't know if other guys like Bagwell or Frank Thomas were juicing, so you can't put them in ahead of McGwire.

But, since baseball writers are among the least rational people on the planet (*cough* *MVP voting* *cough*), it's probably going to be choice b, or maybe c.

(uhh...cmfost - you're trying to argue that Rice was a better player than McGwire, and you bring up that Mac's OPS was 130 points higher? That's supposed to make me support Rice?)

Big Smitty said...

Hey, I have an idea. Instead of all the members of the BBWAA crying over weather or not cheaters should be let in to the Hall, why don't we elect some people who actuall deserve it and have been neglected. Along w/ first timers Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. How about some of these names Lee Smith, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson, Tommy John, Don Mattingly and Jim Rice. These guys were amazing in their era, give them credit for it!!!!

Dave Rothgery said...

It has to be "a".

Unless someone's got definitive evidence (rather than just strong suspicion) that McGwire's used banned substances, he should go in right away.

He was the best hitter for power in the history of baseball; no one else who got a non-trivial number of at-bats is even close in HRs per at bat for their entire career.

rafael said...

Um...Barry Bonds is the best hitter for power in the history of baseball... If you're going to name a player from this era anyways.

Jingoist said...

Could there be any more of a contrast than these 4 HOF candidates:

Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn
vs.
Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco

It's really representative of the end of the last golden era and the start of the next, tainted one- the last of the natural born hitters from the early 80's giving way to the late 80's/early 90's "Bash Brothers" who with them came the Scandal of the Century (well, that is until Dan's amphetamine scandal blows it all away some day).

Geoff-Detroit said...

Alan Trammell had a liftime fielding percentage of .977. Ozzie Smith was .978. Oh wait, Ozzie did backflips though so he gets in.

Natsfan74 said...

McGwire is definitely a first ballot hall of famer. People who argue about "McGwire and Sosa saving baseball" don't seem to remember the mood back then.

After 1994, I could care less if baseball ever started again (did we miss hockey?). But in 1998, the world stopped when McGwire and Sosa came to the plate.

I was at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in mid-September when Sosa hit numbers 65 and 66 to take the lead. The Hall of Fame had a huge scoreboard at the front entrance that looked like the manual boards at Wrigley and Fenway. Across the top were games 150-162. Down the side were the names McGwire, Sosa, and Griffey. The Baseball Hall of Fame kept a running scoreboard of each players' homerun talley. Whenever any of them came to bat that day, the entire Hall stood still as the radio play-by-play was piped in.

Anyone who can have that much impact on a game that had become irrelevant deserves to be in the Hall. His career numbers are Hall worthy. He belongs in the Hall of Fame.

nyc-steelers fan said...

geoff,
yet another proof of mark twain: lies, damn lies, and statistics. Come on, man, watch the freaking games. Fielding percentage is not an accurate assessment of how good a fielder is. ozzie got to balls trammell wouldn't dream of getting to. ozzie seemed to have one mind-blowing play a game (and I'm not a cards fan, but i saw them play quite a bit in the 80's).

Don't worry though, with any luck, maybe trammell will get voted in for his second life - manager...