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Thread: McGwire strikes out; Gwynn, Ripken in Cooperstown

  1. #1
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    McGwire strikes out; Gwynn, Ripken in Cooperstown

    By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer 2 hours, 13 minutes ago

    NEW YORK - Mark McGwire's Hall of Fame bid was met with a rejection as emphatic as his upper-deck home runs. While the door to Cooperstown swung open for Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn on Tuesday, McGwire was picked by less than a quarter of voters a result that raises doubts about whether Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa or other sluggers from baseball's Steroids Era will ever gain entry.

    McGwire, whose 583 home runs rank seventh on the career list, appeared on 128 of a record 545 ballots in voting released Tuesday by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

    "I hope that as time goes on, that number will increase," Gwynn said. "I hope that one day he will get into the Hall of Fame, because I really believe he deserves it."

    The 23.5 percent vote McGwire received represented the first referendum on how history will judge an age when bulked-up players came under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball didn't ban steroids until after the 2002 season.

    "We knew," Gwynn said. "Players knew. Owners knew. Everybody knew, and we didn't say anything about it."

    Gwynn, with an infectious laugh and smile, and Ripken, with cool professionalism, were different on and off the field. They both said they knew McGwire would take some attention from their elections, but while Gwynn was open with his opinion on Big Mac, Ripken was guarded. Ripken said Goose Gossage and Jim Rice belong in the Hall, but stayed away from whether McGwire should gain the honor.

    "I don't think it's my place to actually cast judgment," Ripken said.

    He also rejected Gwynn's assertion that steroid use was common knowledge.

    "I didn't know," Ripken said. "Looking back, maybe I can be the most naive and most ignorant person around."

    As the announcement approached, fans, players and managers voiced their views. Many voters said McGwire was hurt by his 2005 congressional testimony, when he repeatedly evaded questions.

    "There's that big black cloud hanging over baseball with steroids," Gossage said. "It's a shame. There are a lot of great players in that era. Who knows what's going to happen?"

    Gwynn remembered the way McGwire "was able to really bring a town and a country together" when he hit a record 70 homers in 1998 a mark Bonds broke when he hit 73 three years later. Gwynn predicted McGwire eventually will be elected.

    Jim Milner, McGwire's business representative, did not return telephone calls. McGwire, who lives in a gated community in Irvine, Calif., has made few public comments in recent years.

    Commissioner Bud Selig declined comment on McGwire but readily praised Ripken and Gwynn.

    "I have enormous affection for both individuals," he said. "They not only obviously had historic achievements on the field, but they represented the sport as well as it could be represented."

    Ripken and Gwynn were rarities in the age of free agency, each spending his entire career with one team. They will be inducted during ceremonies July 29 at the Hall along with anyone elected from the Veterans Committee vote, which will be announced Feb. 27.

    Ripken, the Baltimore Orioles shortstop who set baseball's ironman record, was picked by 537 voters and appeared on 98.53 percent of ballots to finish with the third-highest percentage behind Tom Seaver (98.84) and Nolan Ryan (98.79).

    Gwynn, who won eight batting titles with the
    San Diego Padres, received 532 votes for 97.61 percent, the seventh-highest ever, also trailing Ty Cobb, George Brett and Hank Aaron.

    If he had been picked by two of the eight voters who didn't select him, Ripken would have set the percentage record, but he didn't mind. Two voters submitted blank ballots.

    "All I wanted to hear was, `You're in,'" Ripken said. "I really didn't get caught up in wanting to be unanimous or wanting to be the most."

    Gwynn worried that he might get 100 percent.

    "For the last month, I think, that's all I could think about, hoping that I didn't get near that number," he said. "We've never had one, and so I sure didn't want to be that guy who was closest."

    Bill Shannon of Sports Press Service, who also does freelance writing for The Associated Press, omitted Ripken and Gwynn because he wanted to vote for 10 other players the maximum allowed.

    "I thought they were such obvious candidates they didn't need my vote," he said. "I wasn't thinking in terms of a 100 percent."

    Ripken, a 19-time All-Star and two-time AL MVP, played in a major league-record 2,632 consecutive games to break Lou Gehrig's mark of 2,130. He also set a new standard for power-hitting shortstops with 431 home runs and 3,184 hits.

    His hot-water heater didn't work Tuesday morning, making him laugh and recall starting his pro career at Bluefield in 1978.

    "I was sitting there remembering the cold-shower days," Ripken said.

    Gwynn, a 15-time All-Star, compiled 3,141 hits and a .338 batting average during his 20-year career with the San Diego Padres. He woke up at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, couldn't get back to sleep and was fidgety and nervous before he received the call from Jack O'Connell, the BBWAA secretary-treasurer.

    "I broke down right away," Gwynn said. "My wife came over and put an arm around me."

    Gwynn hit only 135 homers matching McGwire's total in 1998 and 1999 and joked that he'd be the "Punch and Judy" spokesman for the next few months.

    "For me, it's kind of validation because the type of player that I was doesn't get a whole lot of credit in today's game," he said. "I didn't win any championships. I didn't hit a whole lot of home runs. I didn't drive in a whole lot of people."

    Gossage finished third with 388 votes, falling 21 shy of the necessary 409. His percentage increased from 64.6 to 71.2, putting him in good position to reach the necessary 75 percent next year. The highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.

    "It kind of feels weird to be that close," Gossage said. "Hopefully, next year will be the year."

    Rice was fourth with 346, his percentage dropping to 63.5 from 64.8 last year. He was followed by Andre Dawson (309), Bert Blyleven (260), Lee Smith (217) and Jack Morris (202).

    McGwire was ninth, followed by Tommy John (125) and Steve Garvey (115), who was in his final year of eligibility. Jose Canseco, who accused McGwire of using steroids, received six votes in his first appearance and will be dropped from future ballots.

    Pete Rose, the banned career hits leader who has never appeared on the ballot, received four write-in votes.
    I personally think that McGwire belongs in the HOF. Steroids that he was using were not banned at the time whereas Bonds has "allegedly" continued to use them. McGwire screwed up at the congressional hearings by not being straight up about it. Pete Rose will never make it.

  2. #2
    I agree that McGwire belongs in the HOF for exactly the reason that you've stated. You cannot hold a man responsible for playing the game by the rules if the rules change AFTER he leaves the game. McGwire's accomplishments in the game, not to mention the way that he helped to bring the game back after the strike, stand on their own.

    I'd even go out on a limb and say that I could make an argument in favor of Bonds being enshrined too. It's a weaker argument (also for the reasons you've stated) but unless I'm forgetting a news report, Bonds has not been proven guilty of using any banned substances. I'm not foolish enough to pretend that the allegations are not compelling. But it seems to me to be a rather dangerous precedent to set that a man can be left out of the HOF not for his actions, but for accusations made against him.

  3. #3
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    I heard someone who was being interviewed on TV (I have no idea who) say that they would vote for Bonds when the time comes because he was a hall of famer before steroids. I agree about McGwire being deserving. The steroids he was using were banned in other sports but not baseball. I just wish he hadn't acted so guilty during those hearings.

  4. #4
    Good for Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. making it into the Hall of Fame. I agree that Mark McGwire should have made it also. Barry Bonds could eventually hit more home runs than anybody else, but that doesn't mean he will end up in the Hall of Fame.

  5. #5
    Rock Stars! bbnbama's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    In my own little world where all things are Idol......
    I'm also in favor of Mark McGwire being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was an awesome ball player and like Veruka had pointed out he shouldn't be penalized for accusations. My son is a huge McGwire fan and he was so ticked off that he didn't make it!!

    Congratulations to Ripken and Glynn though...they are both well deserving!
    Reality is the beginning...not the end....Wallace Stevens

  6. #6
    Dreamer rt1ky's Avatar
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    Trying to free myself from the snarkside.
    If everyone supposedly knew that steroids were rampant in baseball at the time McGwire was playing, it's not fair to punish him now. They should have done it at the time, but they didn't. The numbers are there and there's no proof. I hate cheating, and I thought he did an awful job of testifying before Congress, but I think he's being made into a scapegoat.

  7. #7
    Swinging in the hammock Ilikai's Avatar
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    The only one that said Mac did steroids is Canseco and I don't trust him to tell the truth on any subject. Mac was using andros which was/and still is an over the counter muscle enhancer/builder that you can get at GNC or any other health store. He was side stepping the congressional hearing questions cause he had been hammered by the press about it for a year and was tired of repeating himself. Congress only did the hearings for a dog and pony show to make it seem like they were concerned about the problem.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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  8. #8
    Guys... psycobabe007's Avatar
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    All I have to say is YAY FOR TONY GWYNN!!

    I grew up with Tony Gwynn as my favorite baseball player, so I am ecstatic that he is finally getting what he has worked so hard for!

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