Jim Souhan: Rejection on election day

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2007 - 10:38 PM

The facts aren't all in about baseball's suspected steroid users, but Hall of Fame voters chose to find Mark McGwire guilty.

Perhaps like many of you, I've grown weary of the debate over Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, and whether their accomplishments should be viewed through the wrong end of a telescope because of their apparent abuse of power-enhancing drugs.

Relief from this relentless topic arrived Tuesday, when baseball writers informed us that the debate is over -- players suspected of steroid use will be effectively banned from the Hall of Fame.

McGwire, he of the 583 career home runs, was named on 25.3 percent of ballots cast in this year's election.

That isn't a rebuke or a reprimand, a warning or a suspension.

That -- 25.3 percent of the votes for the seventh-most prolific home-run hitter in baseball history -- is a conviction to a life sentence, without possibility of parole.

This is a class-action snub. If McGwire won't make it with 583 home runs, then 1,000 home runs won't get Barry Bonds into Cooperstown without a ticket, and Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro might as well appear on "Dancing with the Steroid Stars" if they want to win any honors in their hermetic retirements.

Tuesday, two divergent icons were elected to the Hall -- Cal Ripken, the perpetual playing machine, and Tony Gwynn, the oval hitting artist.

Both were aided by pristine reputations. Ripken is thought to have ingested nothing more illicit than beer, Gwynn nothing more form-altering than sugar donuts.

The fact that our perceptions of Ripken, Gwynn and McGwire are nothing more than assumptions based on anecdotal evidence did not seem to matter to voters.

I voted for McGwire because I don't trust baseball writers (myself included) to be moralists or scorecard-toting CSI units. Few of us have even worked as investigative journalists.

I don't think we (I) know enough about this generation of players to separate presumptive cheaters from the hundreds who cheated more subtly or intelligently, or who have otherwise avoided scrutiny.

Like, oh, aging power pitchers who display tremendous resilience and longevity, not that I'm thinking of anyone in particular, Roger.

Ah, but my views have been marginalized by my peers. We, the tenured members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, have spoken, and our vote can be translated thusly:

If you had BALCO on your speed dial, were unveiled by excellent investigative reporting, failed a drug test, stammered in front of a Congressional hearing or walked around the clubhouse flexing your biceps and selling tickets to your "Gun Show," you've got about as much of a chance in this election as Saints manager George Tsamis.

McGwire, at 25.3 percent, found himself closer to Bash (and butt-injection) Brother Jose Canseco (1.1 percent of the votes) than less-accomplished but untainted slugger Jim Rice (63.5).

Rice was a righthanded power hitter of limited versatility who played in a hitter's park. He hit 382 home runs.

McGwire was a righthanded power hitter of limited versatility who played in pitchers' parks.

McGwire hit 201 more homers than Rice. Rice got 218 more votes Tuesday.

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Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 8 Bottom 8th Inning
Chicago WSox 5
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 Top 8th Inning
Arizona 3
NY Mets 3 Top 7th Inning
Washington 3
LA Angels 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
Colorado 8:05 PM
Texas
Oakland 9:05 PM
San Francisco
Indiana 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh 1 1st Prd 16:06
Carolina 0
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 18:15
Washington 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 15:52
NY Islanders 0
Arizona 0 1st Prd 16:34
Buffalo 0
Anaheim 0 1st Prd 16:12
Boston 0
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
San Jose 6:30 PM
Detroit
NY Rangers 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Florida 6:30 PM
Toronto
Montreal 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Wichita State 6:15 PM
Notre Dame
North Carolina 6:47 PM
Wisconsin
Evansville 7:30 PM
Louisiana
West Virginia 8:45 PM
Kentucky
Xavier 9:17 PM
Arizona
St Johns 7 1st Half 14:41
Villanova 9
NC State 7 1st Half 14:53
Temple 8
Missouri 12 1st Half 14:15
Michigan 3
Duquesne 4 1st Half 15:09
West Virginia 7
Ole Miss 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Oral Roberts 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
UCLA
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Sacramento St

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