Tuesday, January 09, 2007

McGuire should be in Cooperstown

Infamy is a version of fame.

That's one reason why Mark McGuire got screwed Tuesday when he received only 23.5% of Hall of Fame votes.

Big Mac, by the numbers the seventh best home-run hitter of all-time, is one of the most important parts of baseball history. And while the Hall of Fame is meant to honour the game's bests, it is also supposed to document the history of America's greatest pastime.

That's why Pete Rose should be there. And that's why Mark McGuire can now join him as an outcast.

But Rose was barred from the game, and that's why his name stays separate from the Hall. Now, remind us again, what exactly did McGuire get caught doing?


McGuire is simply a great player, caught up in a sour era, and in the wrong place at the wrong time. He picked the wrong year to retire: just before the rest of the (supposed) juiced sluggers of his generation.

And so the former Cardinal and Athletic, and only player in baseball history to hit 70 home-runs prior to the Barry Bonds fiasco, is the man taking the heat for his peers. McGuire presented the first opportunity for baseball writers across America to condemn the wrongdoers of the steroid era.

But, is that right? I mean, in the eyes of the law it isn't. And, after all, he never failed a drug test.
Well, he actually never had to take one. See Major League Baseball didn't have a steroid policy in Big Mac's days. The drugs were in no way against league rules. And in most countries (and in the United States with a prescription) they were a-okay on "the streets" as well.

So, tell me again. Why should we condemn a "cheater" that was never caught? And even if he did get nabbed, it wouldn't have been against the rules.

And why McGuire? I mean, Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame, isn't he?

Here we are with a man who ADMITTED to cheating, not once, but almost EVERY TIME he took to the mound, right there in the Hall with all the rest of the game's greatest ever.

Perry was loveable, and when he talked about his days of doctoring baseballs, media and fans tended to almost applaud him for it, appreciating his efforts.

Mike Schmidt is in the Hall. He says he would've taken the 'roids in his day if they were available. And who's to say most of the players from the pre-steroid era wouldn't have? It's not like these guys had cleaner souls or pourer consciences.

Likely, many players from the game's past would have juiced if the opportunity was presented.

In fact, most of the greatest players from the sixties and on were popping "greenies" (look it up, they are a form of speed) before each game. Are you going to tell me no Hall-of-Famers hail from that group?

But, like in McGuire's career, substances weren't tested for in the Majors at that point.

The technology has merely changed, and the drugs have become more notable in public discussion. Why should current players (I.e. McGuire) pay the price, while everyone in the past years of baseball gets away scot-free.

It's really as simple as this: the game of baseball has to be correctly documented in the greatest Hall of Fame in sports. And to leave Mark McGuire out would be to neglect an important part of the history of this game.

And as long as the rules of baseball haven't been breached by a player, nobody (especially a sports writer on a clear vendetta) has the right to vote against him based on their personal beliefs.

Sports writers who do this are abusing their privilege, which is to cast an objective vote based on the accomplishments of the player in the game of baseball. If he didn't break the rules, voters really don't have the right to use off-the-field criteria in their judgments.

Heck, Ty Cobb was known as a racist - undoubtedly an off-the-field issue, but his ghost resides in Cooperstown.

Mac didn't break any rules, and we doubt many voters would deem his stats to be un-Hall-worthy.

It has to be remembered that it isn't the Writers' Hall of Fame. Writers are merely the watchers of the game of baseball, with the ability to compare historical stats and accomplishments and determine if a player deserves to be put up there with the best in history.

And, aside from a shaky Grand Jury testimony and some andro apparently spotted in his locker, Big Mac is right there with the best home run hitters ever.

He may go down in the history books as infamous, but his contributions to the game - bringing fans back to the parks for the first time since before the 1994 strike - will surely place him among a select few in regards to impact on the history of Major League Baseball.

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