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Friday, January 15, 2010

Jack Clark and Andy Van Slyke Criticize Mark McGwire

Read all about it here.

I've written about the steroids era over the years, and I've been clear -- it was wrong and it was awful. I also read articles about McGwire's statements, and I still don't think he's coming clean totally. Some of what Andy Van Slyke said resonates with me. Forgiveness is easier than reconciliation or forgetting, and, as such, I don't think McGwire or any of his fellow abusers belongs in the Hall of Fame.

The usage by McGwire and Sammy Sosa cast a bad light on good players in that era who didn't use. To me, Fred McGriff was a great player, but he never buffed himself up with performance-enhancing drugs to have a mega-season the way McGwire and Sosa did. I think that McGriff is a borderline Hall of Famer, but his numbers don't stack up with McGwire's. But, because McGriff was clean, his candidacy should be enhanced. He shouldn't be punished because of transgressors like McGwire, Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.

In addition, and I know some might think that this is stretching things a bit, the articles that I read on Barry Bonds indicated that he decided to use performance-enhancing drugs because of the home run derby between McGwire and Sosa. There was Bonds, the best player in the game, all of a sudden not getting his due or putting up the biggest numbers because these two guys loaded up on the juice and put up huge numbers. So, the story went, Bonds decided to use.

Look, I'm not defending Bonds here, and I've been very critical of him. What he did was wrong. The problem is that the first users created a culture where a player might have felt he couldn't have survived in baseball if he didn't use. McGwire was one of those people who created that type of thinking. He wasn't alone, and Lord knows who were among the first users.

The whole thing is a sorry mess. It was a bad era, and baseball seemingly has moved on, but bad conduct and a very late and incomplete apology shouldn't make Mark McGwire eligible for the Hall of Fame.


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