This election was our first referendum on steroids, and McGwire was the first available whipping boy. Although cheating always has been a part of baseball, we have identified McGwire as our latter-day Adam, as if his were the original sin.
Don't listen to anyone who justifies a snub of McGwire by downplaying his accomplishments. McGwire was the first player to hit 70 home runs in a season. He is seventh on the career homers list, and every other eligible player with 500 or more home runs is in the Hall of Fame.
McGwire's career slugging percentage was .588; his career on-base percentage was .394. His 162-game averages were 50 home runs and 122 RBI.
He was this era's Harmon Killebrew, a prolific power hitter who transcended our Hall-worthy milestones, and yet McGwire received only 13 more votes than Steve Garvey, another righthanded hitting first baseman.
Garvey hit 272 homers, had a .329 on-base percentage and a .446 slugging percentage. Only the assumption of McGwire's steroid use could place McGwire in Garvey's voting bracket instead of Ripken's.
Yes, the BBWAA used the Hall of Fame voting to send a message to McGwire, Bonds and the BALCO Brethren on Tuesday. The message: Don't even bother.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. firstname.lastname@example.org