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Can Time Heal This Wound?

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From MLB.com yesterday:

A few years ago, Mark McGwire was widely considered a lock for Hall of Fame enshrinement.
How times have changed.

McGwire, who retired as the No. 5 home run hitter of all time (he's now eighth), looked like a stone-cold lock for immortality back when he called it a career following the 2001 season. Since then, the question of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in baseball became a front-burner issue, and McGwire was the first true casualty in Hall of Fame voting.

It's that time of year again; this year marking the third time that Mark McGwire will be up for the Hall of Fame vote. Blez covered this issue in 2006 and again last year, but I thought I'd rouse it one more time, a few years removed from the feelings, mostly to see if anything has changed.

My gut feeling is that McGwire was kept out of the Hall the first year as 'punishment', and every year since is just another year away from the glory years, away from the days when he was a near-certain shoo-in. I think his best bet for the Hall was early, and he received nearly the same attention last year as he did in 2006 (that is to say, not much). There aren't many reasons to think that this year will be different.

However...

I find my attitude towards McGwire changing the more time passes, and the more I see things revealed about baseball during the time in which he played. He is no longer a baseball hero to me, but he is also no longer the villian he once was. I can look somewhat objectively at his career numbers and think that maybe he should be in the Hall, even after it all.

McGwire had a pedestrian .263 career batting average, but it was more than balanced out by his sheer power (.588 SLG) and amazing homerun total. He is currently eighth on the all-time homerun list with 583 career homeruns, including 70 in the 'season that saved baseball'. McGwire won a Gold Glove, was a perenial All-Star, and finished in the top ten of MVP voting five times. He even has a ring!

Yet...he's probably not going to enter the Hall, and maybe that's a fair decision. And maybe I'm basing my feelings on pure baseball, because I think his numbers put him there. Of course I also think (and will argue for hours) that the Hall of Fame is missing Pete Rose on pure baseball ability. But maybe there is more to the honor than just being great at baseball.

I have never considered myself a die-hard McGwire fan (I always was a Canseco girl; what does that say about me?!), but if I had a vote in this contest, it would be yes. And I couldn't have said that two years ago.