McGwire Hired As New Cardinals Hitting Coach
The Cardinals have hired Mark McGwire as their new hitting coach after firing Hal McRae. It is questionable why McRae was fired since the Cardinals were third in the NL in hitting with a .263 average.
The Phillies are 10th in the league but I doubt their hitting coach will be fired.
McGwire Will Draw Fans
From my viewpoint McRae was fired more to open the spot for Mark McGwire. Fans are not going to buy tickets to see McRae but there is a lot better chance they will pay to see McGwire.
McGwire is a fan favorite in St. Louis but his main problem could be with the media unless they give him some distance and let him do his job.
The Cardinals hitters did slump in September and in the playoffs but hitting coaches usually don’t get fired for a few weeks of bad hitting. It wasn’t fair to McRae as it wouldn’t have been fair to fire Tony LaRussa because they didn’t win the NLDS.
Could Repair Image
This may be a chance for McGwire to repair his image and improve his chances for the Hall of Fame by saying and doing all the right things to get on the good side of the writers.
The way it was going there was no way McGwire would collect enough votes to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He had more or less become a recluse staying out of the public eye for the most part since his testimony before the steroids committee in Washington.
Refused To Talk About the Past
His refusal to talk about the past has haunted him as evidenced by the Hall of Fame voting the last two years.
In 2008 McGwire had 128 votes with 23 percent of the votes cast. His total was even worse in 2009 with 118 votes with 21 percent of the votes.
Needs About 282 More Votes
He needs to increase his votes by approximately 282 votes to reach the 75 percent he needs to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Jim Rice had 412 votes for 76 percent of the votes cast last year.
Last year Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Tommy John and Tim Raines garnered more votes than McGwire.
The following players will be eligible for induction for the first time in 2010:
2010: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Robin Ventura, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Ray Lankford, Pat Hentgen, Todd Zeile, Eric Karros, Mark McLemore, Andres Galarraga, Fernando Vina, Mike Jackson, Shane Reynolds, Dave Burba, David Segui, Andy Ashby.
I look for Alomar, Larkin, McGriff, Martinez and Galarraga to garner a respectable number of votes but I doubt that any of these players will be making their Hall of Fame induction speeches next July.
Alomar, Larkin and McGriff are my picks to possibly make the Hall of Fame in future years.
Sports Talk Radio Mocking McGwire
I heard a sports talk radio guy talking about McGwire getting the Cardinals hooked up with steroids but that is the last thing he would do with his Hall of Fame chances at risk.
It is hard to say that if McGwire had told the truth before the committee instead of stonewalling that he would have more Hall of Fame votes than he did since he became eligible but I tend to think he would have had more votes than the 118 he had this year.
McGwire will find himself open to questions from reporters if the team is not hitting well unless LaRussa shields him from the press.
He will probably avoid any questions about steroids and his Hall of Fame chances.
Scrutiny of Press
The question is can McGwire handle the scrutiny of the press on a daily basis over a 162 game season.
Going from being a semi-recluse to being in the spotlight for eight months from spring training to the last game of the season will be a huge change for McGwire.
I was shocked when I heard he was going to accept the position as hitting coach.
Relations With Press
He may be taking the job without even thinking of the Hall of Fame but if he communicates well with the press he may improve his chances of being elected.
The same reporters he has avoided in the past now hold the key to his Hall of Fame chances.
McGwire Has Next Move
The next move is up to McGwire. He can either be friendly toward the reporters or treat them with the same surly attitude he has since the steroids committee convened in Washington.
Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey are the only Hall of Famers that baseball-reference.com compares to McGwire.
His Hall of Fame numbers aren’t that great once you get past the 583 home runs but we will leave that debate for another time.