Breaking: McGwire admits to using steroids in 1998

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We knew this was coming eventually, but now it has finally come. McGwire was taking steroids in 1998 when he broke the home run record.  Excerpts from his statement, which have been leaked:

  • “I wish I had never touched steroids.  It
    was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I
    wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
  • “I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come.  It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what
    people have suspected”
  • “I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs
    had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I
    didn’t take any, and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good
    years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids.
    But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly
    sorry.”
  • “After all this time, I want to come clean. I was not in a
    position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but
    now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about
    it. I’ll do that, and then I just want to help my team.”
  • “I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and
    then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the ’90s,
    including during the 1998 season.”
  • “During the mid-’90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games
    over five years. I experienced a lot
    of injuries, including a ribcage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a
    stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was
    definitely a miserable bunch of years, and I told myself that steroids
    could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and
    prevent injuries, too.”
  • “Baseball is really different now — it’s been cleaned up. The commissioner and the players’ association implemented
    testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.”

The AP report says that McGwire also used human growth hormone, though McGwire didn’t include that
detail in his statement.

Mariano Rivera elected to Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously

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Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).

Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.

Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.

Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.