This past week, only one thing has been on my mind that's baseball-related (since Maya turns one tomorrow). It's been next year's class of potential Hall of Famers.
McGwire will be eligible for induction. And to me, this is the reason he made a fool of himself in front of Congress. In my opinion, it's the reason he repeatedly said, "I'm not here to talk about the past." McGwire didn't want anyone to use his words against him when thinking about checking his name off for the Hall of Fame.
When you look at McGwire's numbers, there is no question that he belongs in the Hall. His 583 home runs are seventh in the history of baseball. His career slugging percentage of .588 is ninth all-time (Frank Thomas is 14th for those who are counting). He is 11th in career OPS with a .982. The only place where McGwire could possibly be dinged in terms of his numbers is his subpar career batting average of .263. But remember, we're talking about a player who was more about the power than anything. He piled up 1,596 strike outs over his career. But Mickey Mantle has 1,710 strike outs over 18 seasons (McGwire had that many over 16 seasons).
His best career season in Oakland was 1996 when he put up the .312/.467/.730 line. If you compare McGwire to two other players who are supposed "virtual locks" for the Hall in 2007, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn, McGwire's numbers are better everywhere except batting average (and Gywnn's ridiculous ability to avoid the strike out). McGwire's numbers are actually insanely better than Ripken's. Ripken had a career .340 OBP, McGwire .394. Ripken's slugging was .447. Of course, both Gwynn and Ripken have membership in a club that McGwire didn't come close to reaching. That elusive 3,000 hit club.
Still, to me, there is no question that McGwire should get in next year if it was solely based on numbers. But it isn't.
This will be the first test of how voters will behave with suspected steroids users. The vote on McGwire will give us an indication of how things will go in the future. But how they perceive McGwire could be different than, say Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro got caught after blatantly denying steroid use in front of Congress. McGwire basically admitted steroids use in an indirect fashion.
So ultimately, it comes down to whether or not the voters believe that someone who, in all likelihood, used steroids belongs in the Hall or not.
If it was up to me, I would not vote for McGwire in his first year of eligibility despite my love for the A's and his obvious qualifications. As for future years, it depends on who the other candidates are. There's also the murky question of how this would impact other future players, especially someone like Barry Bonds. Bonds has essentially said he took steroids. He was linked to the BALCO scandal. He's every bit as guilty of steroids use as McGwire is. But I suppose that's a question for a later date.
It's just sad that one of the greatest players in A's history has become such a question mark in retirement. Would you vote for him for the Hall if you had a vote?
I've added a front page poll for you to chime in on this very topic.
Just so you know, Nico will be tending to things through Tuesday as we're going to be with family to celebrate my daughter's first birthday.