The BBWAA writers have ballots in hand. Gywnn’s and Ripken’s are pre-punched and it will be interesting to see how high of a total Ripken can get. Maybe the highest ever. (I think Tom Seaver has the highest at 98.84%). Cal is not a superstar sabermetrically, but he’s got The Streak. Maybe in this era of doubt the voters will be tickled pink to have someone like him.
Then there’s McGwire. My memories of the Summer of ’98 are vivid. Before that season, some slugger would occasionally excite fans by staying ahead of Ruth’s or Maris’s HR pace, only to wither. But McGwire and Sosa kept going. My wife, a casual baseball fan prior to that, got caught up in the chase. Like many, we cheered and teared when McGwire stepped into the stands and hugged the Maris family.
The following spring McGwire brought his Bomber Show here to the nation’s capitol. We watched him take batting practice at RFK Stadium. I have never seen anything like it. Big Mac warmed up by launching a handful of long shots before hitting one that almost went over the overhang in left field. It was only batting practice but that was the most incredible batted ball I have ever seen.
McGwire returned to Washington last spring for the steroids hearings. Another unforgettable moment. One of the game’s greatest sluggers reduced to what looked like embarrassment and shame.
Some of the baseball writers are coming out now with columns saying they won’t vote for McGwire. In addition to their reasons, I think another factor is they are mad. No one knows for sure what happened with McGwire and steroid use and this frustrates the writers. So in a way, maybe they are taking it out on him.
Maury Brown sums it up at his site:
“When Palmeiro’s name comes up on the ballot, it’s a no-brainer to vote no. He was caught using steroids, and pays the price. If the Mitchell investigation ever releases its findings, or somehow Greg Anderson snaps and decides to provide direct proof that Barry Bonds used steroids, then there’s your second “no-brainer” criteria. After that, it’s basing a vote on speculation, and as mentioned prior, that’s a slippery slope.
For those that are contending that legal PEDs were used by McGwire and therefore his HR numbers would not be nearly as high without them, you have a point. But, how much did his use of andro impact his numbers? 10%? 20%? 30%? What’s the measure? When there is a way to do more than stick your finger in the wind to see which way the wind blows, then we may have something.”
My feelings are one of having something great taken away. Seeing Gwynn, Ripken and McGwire on that Cooperstown stage next summer, with no dark clouds, would have been awesome.
Oh well, like Meatloaf said, “two out of three ain’t bad.”