'I Voted for Mark McGwire'

ByEssay By<br>BUSTER OLNEY

Jan. 9, 2006 &#151; -- The Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2007 class this afternoon. While Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn were easily voted in, slugger Mark McGwire was not. But Buster Olney believes he should have been more seriously considered for the list.

I voted for Mark McGwire, and here's why: If I decided not to vote for McGwire this year based on his alleged steroid use, what would I do in future years about other Hall of Fame candidates to come when I believe that most of the major stars from this era used performance-enhancing drugs?

I believe that perhaps 75 to 80 percent of the major awards of the last 15 years were won with the help of steroids or human growth hormone. And here's the thing: I can't prove what I believe.

I am voting for the best players from the steroid era, but I'm setting aside whether they used steroids because I can't distinguish with certainty between the cheaters and the clean players.

The only difference between McGwire and most of his star peers from this era, I believe, is that McGwire got a congressional subpoena, and he was mentioned in Jose Canseco's book "Juiced," while they were not. Had many other great players received the subpoena that he was hit with, they would have given the same horrible and strained answers that he had at the 2005 Capitol Hill hearing.

Before we try to apply hard retroactive morality on Mark McGwire, we should also remember that it was just last month that Barry Bonds got a new $20 million contract from the San Francisco Giants, and the New York Mets signed Guillermo Mota to a two-year contract -- a player recently given a 50-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

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