Still Not Too Late
It's not too late for Mark McGwire to be a stand-up guy.
And that might just save him from the same fate as Pete Rose.
On the outside of Cooperstown indefinitely while the debate over his candidacy rages on and on and on. . .
When he defiantly sat before Congress and stonewalled, McGwire alienated a lot of Hall of Fame voters, as well as fans. People weren't necessarily hoping to get details of every pill and every needle, but some honesty and some humility would have gone a long way.
Now, with balloting for this year's Hall of Fame class about to commence, McGwire could still do the honesty and humility thing.
He could say sorry. He could admit to doing things to his body that while not necessarily illegal under baseball's rules certainly were unsportsmanlike. He could articulate the reasons why he and others chose to enhance their performance in an era in which baseball was hungry for star power and chose to turn a blind eye to much of what was going on.
He could just be a standup guy. One statement, one press conference, and the argument that he should be denied access to Cooperstown solely on the basis of his congressional filibuster would vanish.
The betting here is that had Rose come clean right away when he first sought admittance to the Hall of Fame, he'd be enshrined by now.
There is, of course, no indication that McGwire intends to go public at all. In fact, he apparently has declined to co-operate in any way with baseball's ongoing investigation into drug use in the sport.
So the debate over his eligibility/suitability has really picked up steam.
Many writers, and many Hall of Fame voters, have stepped up with excellent explanations of their reasons for or against voting for McGwire. The Star's Dave Perkins, to my mind, has the best reason not to vote in the slugging first baseman; he just doesn't have Hall of Fame numbers. It may be because I'm predisposed to keeping McGwire out, but this argument makes good sense.
In St. Louis, the town where Big Mac had his collision with history, this is a volatile issue. Jeff Gordon, a fine columnist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, weighs in with his belief that McGwire has no chance of being a first ballot choice.
The New York Daily News goes to the heart of the steroid matter, it's influence on younger athletes, while veteran Boston Globe writer Bob Ryan adamantly refuses to even consider giving McGwire his vote.
This is clearly an issue that evokes a great deal of passion among those who have been around this game for a long, long time.
Right now, it appears McGwire won't get enough votes to get in this year. But that just means the debate will be shifted to next year, and to years beyond.