The elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced this morning with little surprise.
Iron man Cal Ripken Jr. and heavy hitter Tony Gwynn were ushered in on their first year being on the ballot.
As current conventional wisdom holds, Mark McGwire led a group of players from the 1990’s with a very dark cloud hovering over them. He’s the first big name player from the alleged steroid era to be judged and made an example of.
This subject will not go away anytime soon, so expect to hear about it anytime the subject of baseball comes up.
Imagine Santa Claus being convicted for stealing your stereo system while he’s in your house leaving gifts. That’s basically McGwire’s purported crime.
Everyone with any sense of adventure got caught up in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa traded bombs as they chased Roger Maris’ single season homerun record of 61. It was a huge deal. Many thought that record would stand the test of time and never be duplicated or broken.
Enter the herculean (literally) super heroes that were McGwire and Sosa. You were either a kid, or felt like a kid as you watched and rooted as they traded homers. You made sure you kept up via Sportscenter, box score, news, or the water cooler on a daily basis.
The race ended with McGwire breaking the record, hugging his son at home plate, hugging the Maris family, hugging Sosa and trying to do that chest slap/sky point with him, and then speaking to the world from a platform that included everyone mentioned in addition to his son, ex-wife, and her husband. All you needed was a campfire, marshmallows, and a guitar.
The next time McGwire was speaking to the world feels like when he was testifying at the grand jury with other players and doing some weak Michael Corleone impersonation pleading the 5th.
Mix this with Sammy Sosa turning in Sammy Hagar type offensive numbers after testing kicked in and Rafael Palmeiro going down in flames, and you have the roadmap back to today’s HOF announcement.
Cal Ripken Jr. singlehandedly pulled baseball back from the strike scarred abyss. Tony Gwynn was Ted Williams 2.0 in a small market where he never was in the burning white hot part of the spotlight.
The steroids issue is a tough wound that will only be soothed with time. Much time. Of the top 8 career players with the best plate appearance to homerun stats, Babe Ruth is the only non-90’s player, some would say non-steroid, era player.
You have to have a minimum of 73% of the Hall of Fame votes in order to get in. Ripken received 98.5% the 3rd highest percentage ever, Gwynn received 97.6% the 7th highest percentage ever, Goose Gossage missed with 71.2% on this eighth year of being on the ballot.
Mark McGwire received a paltry 23.5% of the vote. And is still on the wrong end of the conversation.
On a sidebar, two ballots were turned in blank. The Sports Frappe is officially demanding one of those votes be given to it. We are steroid free, and able to check boxes on a form.