Hall of Fame and Steroids – Baseball’s Power Era
It wasn’t really a surprise was it? I mean, come on? It was merely the inevitable. So former slugger Mark McGwire finally came clean. His honesty, albeit years late, should be noted. However, is it of any coincidence that this confession came right on the heels of yet another Hall of Fame denial for McGwire? It is clearly in the realm of possibility that McGwire had come to accept that his admittance would never be granted as long as there was an air of suspicion over his career. So what was he really risking by coming clean? Not a whole lot in my summation. The voters have clearly been uncomfortable with the thought of voting in of an alleged cheater. I don’t believe that Mark would have ever made it in under the current circumstances. Now? I still believe it to be an uphill battle, and while I cant say that he helped his chances, i certainly can not say that he hurt hs chances.
Now, McGwire has to bank on getting in based on his character. The Hall seems fine to reward character rather than stats at this point. The only inductee this year was former slugger Andre Dawson. Im not saying he wasnt deserving, I am a huge fan of the Hawk. What I am saying is that Dawson failed to crack the 500 home run plateau while also having one of the lowest on-base percentages of any former inductee. What Dawson lacks in wow factor, he made up for with character. Nothing of any negative connatation has ever been linked to Dawson. Perhaps this was his saving grace in an otherwise bleak year for the Hall of Fame. I mean, someone had to get in right?
The question of McGwire brings up further questions. While McGwire’s numbers are dazzling, Barry Bonds numbers are astronomical. In addition, Bonds was considered one of the best players before any linkage to PED use. Bonds was also a defensive stud in his early years and an all around talent. Not all of his MVPs were won by power numbers. So if Big Mac never gets in, will Bonds ever have a chance? Will he be rewarded for his early career triumphs? Im not so sure. I think that the Hall will take an all or none approach. But, if just one were to slide through…Bonds certainly remains an intriguing candidate. At this junction, however, I fail to see how any of them, including Sosa, Palmeiro, or any of the others makes it in.
So, if these gentlemen are disqualified for having an unfair “advantage”, we will see another aspect of this unfold in the coming years. The sluggers who pounded Coors field in the 90’s are coming to be eligible in the coming years. Larry Walker, Vinny Castillo, and the Big Cat will all face scrutiny for playing at Coors. Now, I do feel that you cannot control where you play. Heck, look how many HR’s Jim Rice slugged at Fenway. However, I believe this will play a role in the candidacy of these individuals. I dont see any of them getting in, but we shall see. I will state also, that I believe Todd Helton will and should get in. Take away the power numbers, and you still have one of the best hitters of our era, a defensive gem and a stand up guy. How the Hall approaches these “advantages” in the coming years will certainly be interesting, and a cause for debate.