Today, the Baseball Writers Association of America committed what I would call a baseball sin, by denying legendary slugger Mark McGwire induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I could type until I was blue in the fingers, providing stat after stat showing that McGwire deserves to be in the Hall, but it would be in vain. You see, nobody, probably not one writer who voted, would disagree with the statement that Big Mac has the numbers required for enshrinement. Hell, only six other players in the history of the game have more home runs. Mark McGwire was not enshrined for an altogether different reason: the suspicion that he used illegal performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids or growth hormones.
The second half of McGwire's career was played in what will likely go down in history as the "steroid era". While few players have been outed, this was, and still is, a period when average athletes turned into stars, and stars turned into physical specimens, the likes of which have never been seen. Thirty years ago, who could have ever imagined we would see second basement that looked like linebackers and could hit balls as far as the Babe did over fifty years ago. Only twenty years ago, who would have ever thought there would be a Big Mac.
Mark McGwire is the most physically imposing player to ever play the game. Paul Bunyan had nothing on his 6'6", 260 pound chiseled frame. To put things in perspective, Babe Ruth was a larger than life behemoth in his day. He weighed 220 pounds, much of it softer than a jelly doughnut.
Does McGwire's imposing body make me wonder if he ingested steroids? Sure it does. But, as Clive Owen would say, here in lies the rub: there is no tangible evidence that Mark McGwire ever took an illegal drug. Yeah, I know, he looked bad when ordered to speak in front of Congress. So what? As a fan of the Oakland Athletics, I watched him look equally inept in front of reporters, when talking about baseball. If being articulate is a requirement for innocence, we as a society have some explaining to do.
I was taught that you draw conclusions based on evidence. There is nothing worse than being accused of something you did not do, especially when it is based on flimsy "proof". I hate when my wife does it. I can't imagine how I'd feel if an entire country branded me a cheater, at something that was my life long passion. Until somebody, anybody, can provide real, tangible evidence that Mark McGwire cheated the game he loves, baseball's sports writers are cheating him by keeping him out of the Hall.