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The Debate Begins

Yesterday, the thirty-two name 2007 Hall of Fame ballot was released.

On the ballot for the first time this season are seventeen new names, including Cal Ripken (who ought to be the first player elected unanimously, in my opinion), and Tony Gwynn (who will likely also get in on the first try).

And Mark McGwire.

The cloud surrounding McGwire since his abrupt 2001 retirement hasn't gone away. And I am indebted to Joshua, the SB Nation Astros blogger at Crawfish Boxes, for pointing me to this Cincinnati Enquirer article about an appearance made by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson at a card show in the Cincinnati area last weekend.

Robinson didn't mince words on the steroid issue:

Robinson did not shy away from the steroid discussion when invited to talk about it. He is one of baseball's most outspoken players and a champion of the right way of playing the game.

"Let's take Barry Bonds," Robinson said. "You don't get better as you get older."

Bonds won his last four - consecutive - of seven Most Valuable Player awards after he turned 37. In order, in those four seasons, Bonds hit 73, 46, 45 and 45 home runs. When Robinson was the same age, he hit 19, 30, 22 and nine homers , respectively, the usual decline as a slugger passes 35 years old.

"We don't know what it (taking steroids) really does for you," Robinson said. "I've been told you can bounce back from injuries quicker. Your eyesight gets better. Your reflexes get better."

He said it's undoubtedly true that many more players were using steroids than have been implicated.

"There are so many guys in this game that have used it or are using it or were using it, that we didn't even think about it while it was going on," Robinson said. "We only looked for the big guys.

"But when I see something my eyes can't believe, I ask myself a question - and it's too bad you have to question it, but that's what happens - 'How is he able to do it?'

"I sat in my chair and watched the Mets (in the playoffs) before the Cardinals beat 'em and went to the World Series. (Relief pitcher Guillermo) Mota was in almost every game. I can't say every game, because he may have missed one (actually two) , but I believe he was up throwing every game. And I said to myself, 'How in the hell can he do that?' Then, three weeks ago they busted him (for using steroids)."

I've got my own opinion on McGwire. I am sure you have yours. That's what this post is for, and I'm also putting up a poll on the right sidebar.

Have at it. There will be another top 100 profile later this morning.