|MARK MCGWIRE / MLB.COM|
Just a few days ago, there was an official announcement that Mark McGwire??s name would be placed on the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot. Let the debate begin.
Sure, the voters consist of sulky, biased sportswriters who often hold grudges against certain players for snapping at one of their questions in the locker room. But they have been around the game, they have witnessed and seen live some of the greatest moments the sport of baseball can offer. Regardless of the issue of steroids, any one of them in attendance during that September St. Louis homestand in 1998 will tell you that the McGwire home run chase was one of the most thrilling sporting events of our time. The single most popular play in baseball is the home run. Fans were enthralled. The world was enthralled. People wanted to see McGwire break a record that stood since 1961.
Baseball was experiencing a downswing of revenue and success before that 1998 chase. There were lingering effects from the devastating 1994 strike, attendance at ballparks were down, and the first few albatross contracts were being handed out to big-name free agents. The NFL was taking off and the sport was just plain unpopular. Until the Sosa-McGwire race to the finish line. Now people cared again, flocking to the ballpark for the chance at seeing the action live. Mark McGwire was one of the saviors who kept baseball alive when it was about to fall apart. And now baseball is out to get him.
The number one, and only, reason why people argue McGwire should never be in the Hall of Fame is because of his steroid use. What they fail to understand is the structure of baseball in 1998 is extremely different than today. Baseball went farther than not testing for steroids, they were the ones that kept the ?