DIBIASE: Unaffected until proven injected

Justin Dibiase

The good ol’ U.S. of A. is a land of opportunity and justice. Any good democracy has a legal system in which suspects are innocent until proven guilty, even if the charge or charges against him or her are blatantly true. Heck, even Hussein received a trial after he was charged with killing a heap of his own people.

The Baseball Writers of America are in no way bound to the judicial system of the country when they cast their votes for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but their voting patterns are not even close to reflecting America’s legal outlook on offenses.

Mark McGwire received only 128 votes (23.5 percent) in the past Hall of Fame election. A candidate needs 75 percent of the votes cast to be inducted. If McGwire’s first year on the Hall of Fame ballot is any sign of the future, he does not have a minute chance of having a plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Before the mention of any “performance-enhancing drugs,” let me quickly run down Big Mac’s super-sized numbers: 583 homers, over 1,400 RBIs, over 1,100 runs. McGwire also shattered Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs in a single season. In the long history of Major League Baseball, McGwire has hit the seventh-most home runs over his career.

Now, let’s bring up the controversial “s” word. I refuse to use the actual word because of its downright nasty connotation. I will give a hint, though. The “s” word I am speaking of is a plural noun and rhymes with “bear voids.” Before I go on to discuss the McGwire controversy, allow me to begin with a comparative story.

You and your friend are in the middle of a rousing game of Monopoly. Your thimble is tearing up the board, and your friend is on the verge of going bankrupt. At this moment, you have a sudden urge to run to the kitchen and snack on some Uh-oh Oreos. When you return, your friend has suddenly become a multi-millionaire. The bank’s cash is empty, and your friend has hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place. Your friend’s cheating ways are more obvious than Ruben Studdard’s weight problem, but how can you honestly prove that your friend cheated other than by calling Uncle Pennybags himself?

I return to the topic of Mark McGwire. Sure, over his career he has gained over 110 pounds of muscle, but how do we know that the gains are not a tribute to a diet consisting solely of wild animals and bugs? (Bugs are full of protein; read the nutrition facts.) McGwire has never been caught injecting himself with the big, bad “s” word. However, McGwire did admit to taking androstenedione, which was not banned by baseball at the time. Many criticized McGwire for not answering probing questions directed at him about use of banned substances at a hearing in 2005. I do not look down upon McGwire’s vow of silence. Do you think your friend would admit to cheating in Monopoly? At least he is not lying to the public and his fans like some users have done and continue to do.

McGwire’s former bash brother in Oakland, Jose Canseco, has made a fool of himself in the controversy. Canseco attested to using performance-enhancing drugs at first: an admirable move by Canseco. However, his reasoning for admitting his usage was not for forgiveness or repentance; Canseco sought the almighty dollar. He threw several of his teammates including McGwire under the bus when he published a book naming major leaguers who used drugs during his time in the bigs. Confessions should be left up to the accused, not a third party.

The fact of the matter is that in an era where performance-enhancing drugs tainted the game, Mark McGwire was arguably the best power hitter in the game behind a man named Barry. If there isn’t any proof that McGwire used drugs, he ought to be viewed on the same level as the other players of the era. Even if McGwire is guilty of taking these drugs, who is to say that the pitchers he terrorized weren’t dabbling in the same stuff in order to get an edge on him? If voters are so offended by the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs, they might as well take their ballots and put them through a shredder. Is there any empirical evidence that Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken were never on the juice? Voters should subject themselves to two ways of thinking. They can either accept the fact that this era of baseball is tainted and vote for who they thought were the best of the time period, or the voters can repudiate the entire era of baseball as contaminated and refuse to vote for a single player. “Innocent until proven guilty,” or as I say, “Unaffected until proven injected.”

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Justin DiBiase is a sophomore civil engineering major from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]