I was a little annoyed when I heard a writer had refused to vote in baseball’s hall of fame balloting. But reading his statement he makes a great point:
Anybody who has a HOF vote now was writing then. Also I recall that when I wrote about McGwire and andro, wondering why we celebrated him while crucifying Ben Johnson, the fan/public response I received was almost one hundred per cent negative. Leave McGwire alone, they said. Totally different thing. Don’t wreck a great story.
So the same writers who were celebrating Big Mac back then, and pissing on the reporter who wrote the andro story, suddenly got religion last year. I got sick reading all of those ‘what will I tell my children if I vote for him’ columns.
To my mind, baseball created the working conditions under which players felt comfortable using steroids, amphetamines, and god knows what else. There were ‘rules’ and there was a law — but with no testing and no enforcement, that was like posting speed limits with no radar.
After the fact, I am not willing to stand in moral judgment, deciding who gets in to Cooperstown and who doesn’t. I didn’t sign up for that. And I think it’s wildly hypocritical for anyone else to do it, given how willfully blind they were, but that’s up to them. (The whole idea of sports writers standing in moral judgment of anyone is a bit hard to take.)
So I opted out. Wrote a little note on my ballot saying I declined to participate, and sent it in. Don’t know if they’ll send me another one next year, but I can’t see getting back into the voting unless baseball somehow rules that alleged drug use should not be taken into account.
The great irony is that had McGwire lied to that congressional kangaroo court rather than awkwardly taking the Fifth, he’d be in Cooperstown now. There’s a great moral lesson for the kids.