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Hall of Shame?

Jose Canseco is famous for writing the book titled Juiced, in which he maintained that Mark McGwire, who is famous for hitting more homeruns in a season than anybody else, used illegal anabolic steroids, some of which Mr. Canseco says he administered to Mr. McGwire just before or after Mr. McGwire administered some to him...circumstances that led Mr. McGwire to become even more famous for telling a group of congressmen that he'd rather not talk about anything that had occurred before the day upon which he was testifying.

Both are eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

So is Ken Caminiti, who was the Most Valuable Player in the National League in 1996, thanks, he later said, in part to the steroids he was using then. Mr Caminiti, who was arrested four times for possession of cocaine, is perhaps even more famous for dying at the age of forty one, allegedly of a heart attack brought on by a drug overdose.

Albert Belle, also eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, became especially famous one Halloween night for chasing some teenagers with his truck. Last summer he was sentenced to ninety days in jail and five years probation for stalking a former girlfriend.

Steve Garvey is also on the ballot. He won an MVP trophy in 1974 and played first base for the Dodgers and then the Padres for eighteen years. He was, by most accounts, a personable fellow. In fact, he was so personable that his ex-wife wrote a book based on his personableness toward various other women, and sportswriter Dave Kindred once opined that if Mr. Garvey gathered his harem for pizza, Domino's would need a truck to make the delivery.

All this is not to suggest that each of the candidates is most famous for something other than playing baseball. In fact, Cal Ripken, Jr., whose name appears 27th on the alphabetically arranged ballot, is famous for playing more consecutive baseball games than anyone else.

Still, the collection of retired players about whom various baseball writers are now scratching their heads does suggest that "Hall of Fame" is not the right name for that charming museum in Cooperstown. Hall of Accomplishment Between the Lines, maybe. Hall of Achievement in Terms of Things Measured by Baseball Stats. But not Hall of Fame. These days, getting famous too often means nobody should ever vote for you for anything.

This program aired on November 30, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.

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