Mark McGwire made a slight rebound, but he has a long, long way still to go.
In McGwire's fourth year as a candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, his vote total and percentage both increased a little bit, but only a little -- indicating that it will be very difficult for the former Cardinals and A's slugger to gain entrance to the Hall. McGwire received 128 votes in results announced Wednesday, good for 23.7 percent -- up from 118 in 2009. A player must receive 75 percent approval from the voters of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in order to gain enshrinement.
Another ex-Cardinal, however, inched a hair closer to baseball's hallowed ground when the 2010 voting results were announced -- though Lee Smith still is gaining no real traction. Smith, formerly the game's all-time saves leader, gained 15 votes from 2009 to 2010. Smith received 255 votes, good for a 47.3 percent share.
Neither man's numbers, of course, have changed one bit since their respective retirements. McGwire's 583 homers, 1,414 RBIs and .394 career on-base percentage are, on their own, Hall-worthy. But he has been alleged to have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and his showing in front of a Congressional committee in 2005 did him no favors.
What is clear is that as time passes, those negatives have not faded in many voters' minds.
With his hiring this winter as the Cardinals' hitting coach, it was expected that he might have addressed the media by now. When that time comes, McGwire will have a chance to help rehabilitate his image, but he has yet to speak.
McGwire has mostly remained quiet since his retirement.
Smith's vote total is his highest since he's been on the ballot, as was his percentage, topping his 45 percent showing in 2006. Smith's share is still only a little higher than in his first year on the ballot, 2003, when he was named on 42.3 percent of ballots.
Two other former Cardinals, Ray Lankford and Todd Zeile, were among the four players on the ballot not to receive a vote, while former Redbird Pat Hentgen received exactly one vote. Players receiving under five percent of the vote are not eligible to appear on the BBWAA's ballot again.