As baseball writers show their work across the country, showing off their Hall of Fame ballots and explaining why Mark McGwire isn’t on theirs, I have an idea for McGwire. I realize he doesn’t want to talk about the past, but I think Mike Ditka should do his PR. I was listening to ESPN Radio on my way in to do my Sunday Med Check on ESPN and Ditka was explaining why Shawne Merriman, the Chargers LB who tested positive for an anabolic steroid this season, should be Defensive Player of the Year. “What he did was wrong, but the league’s punishment is four games for this. He served that. He’s getting tested now and hasn’t failed again.” Okay, Ditka failed to notice the six to eight week lag in the NFL’s testing (that’s normal, I’m not faulting them here), but the logic that football guys like Ditka are willing to employ for a knowing, unexcused cheater is amazingly disconnected from the logic that baseball writers are willing to employ for a guy for which there is no proof, who was not subject to testing, and who has admitted to the use and then cessation of a substance (andro) that was available over the counter at the time and was legal for use in baseball until 2005. I have the same amount of evidence that McGwire used steroids as I do that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a conspiracy — I think it’s likely, even probable, but I don’t have evidence.
I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote and doubt I ever will. If I did, I would be checking the box next to McGwire, Gwynn, and Ripken. Oh and Bert Blyleven, because I know Rich Lederer has my email address.