Denying McGwire does fans disservice

Prior to starting his job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals last week, Mark McGwire went public with the admission that he used steroids for most of his illustrious Major League Baseball career.

The announcement didn’t come as a shock to anyone who follows baseball, as McGwire had been under media scrutiny since news of his androstenedione use first surfaced in 1998.

McGwire claimed that he only used steroids to recover from injuries and that the drugs did not help pad his home run numbers.

The confession came days after McGwire failed to gain entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the fourth consecutive year, which means that for four years now, a deserving Hall of Fame candidate was snubbed.

To gain entry into the Hall of Fame, a candidate needs to receive 75 percent of the total votes cast from either the Baseball Writers Association of America or the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee.

Players have 20 years (with one election held each year) to gain entry. If they fail to do so, the Veterans Committee will either make a player a special selection to the Hall of Fame or permanently drop him from the ballot.

In the four years he has been nominated for entry into the Hall of Fame, McGwire has garnered 23.5% (2007), 23.6% (2008), 21.9% (2009) and 23.7% (2010) of the total votes.

Many voting members of the Hall of Fame have openly shunned McGwire, saying they would never vote for someone who cheated and tainted baseball.

Those same people also say they won’t vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez or any other player caught using performance-enhancing drugs.

The problem with that is, assuming the aforementioned players do not gain entry into the Hall of Fame, it’s possible that 20 years from now baseball’s unofficial museum of record won’t contain any mention of at least six of the best (statistically) players in the history of baseball.

Throw in the fact that players such as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Pete Rose weren’t inducted because they were banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame becomes a complete farce.

The BBWAA needs to realize that its pious actions aren’t protecting the fans from history but are instead cheating them out of it.

It should be noted that players such as McGwire and A-Rod who took PEDs before 2006 — when the steroid ban was written into the collective bargaining agreement — did so at a time when it wasn’t illegal to do so.

But even if PED use had been illegal, players who used them are still intertwined in the fabric of baseball.

If the baseball writers want to blame anyone for tainting the game, perhaps Commissioner Bud Selig, who failed to work a PED ban into MLB’s collective bargaining agreement for 14 years, would be a better target.

Acting as though McGwire or Bonds or even Rose never existed is an epic failure on the Hall of Fame’s part.

Put an asterisk on PED users’ plaques; let people know their numbers might be tainted; do whatever. The BBWAA needs to let even the disgraced legends into Cooperstown.

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