Elliott on Baseball

Fred McGriff - Atlanta Braves' Fred McGriff drives a solo home run in the second inning off New...

Fred McGriff - Atlanta Braves' Fred McGriff drives a solo home run in the second inning off New York Yankees pitcher Kenny Rogers during Game 4 of the World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1996. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

BOB ELLIOTT

, Last Updated: 12:15 PM ET

Hall of Fame voters have cast a skeptical eye toward steroid-era sluggers.

Does that mean they should be more lenient when it comes to a near-miss, squeaky-clean Hall of Fame candidate such as Fred McGriff?

Mark McGwire's 583 homers (1,626 hits in 16 season, minus steroid allegations, got him named on 23% of the ballots in his first two years of eligibility -- far below the required 75%.

Sammy Sosa, despite having 609 career homers, will be a question mark when he's eligible in 2013. On top of suspected steroid use., he was caught using a corked bat in 2003. Most Hall of Fame polls have Sosa gaining 50% of the vote.

Rafael Palmeiro finished with 3,020 hits and 569 homers. Four months after defiantly denying drug use to a congressional hearing -- shaking his finger as he said "I have never used steroids" -- he was suspended 10 games in 2005 for a positive test.

McGriff, who played with the Blue Jays in his first five seasons, finished with 493 homers -- the same number as Lou Gehrig.

"Freddie hit them as far when he was 23 as he did when he was 35," Jays broadcaster and former teammate Rance Mulliniks said. "He was extremely committed and he did it clean."

McGriff had 10 seasons of at least 30 homers, including seven in a row. Mulliniks said that if there is a knock on McGriff's numbers it is his RBI total, 1,550. Eight times, McGriff knocked in more than 100, but his career high was 107 with the 1996 Atlanta Braves.

"There were times Fred wouldn't expand the strike zone, if the pitch was on the corner, he'd take a walk," Mulliniks said. Twice McGriff walked more than 100 times in a season.

"Knowing what I know now, Fred McGriff belongs," Jays third base coach Marty Pevey said. "He was a catalyst for a World Series winner (the 1995 Braves). How many first basemen hit more than 30 homers seven (consecutive) years?

"He looks the same facially as he did 20 years ago, he doesn't get any older."

The Jays acquired Dave Collins, Mike Morgan and minor-league throw-in McGriff from the New York Yankees for Dale Murray and Tom Dodd at the 1982 winter meetings.

At the time, the New York papers referred to it as the Murray trade. Jays general manager Pat Gillick said eventually it would become known as the McGriff trade.

"McGriff is a legitimate guy, I think," Gillick said from Philadelphia, where he now is the Phillies GM.

"I'd be thrilled to see a friend and former teammate make the Hall of Fame," Jays first base coach Ernie Whitt said.

McGriff becomes eligible for the first time in 2010.

Does he belong?

Five hundred homers means little when it comes to dirty home run hitters.

What's seven home runs shy of 500 when the worst McGriff ever has been accused of was changing his stance from one pitch to another?

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QUICK HITS

YOUNG RUNNER GOT A RIBBING

The Minnesota Twins' Ron Washington faced Rich (Goose) Gossage in 1983.

Washington, now the Texas Rangers manager, singled on the first pitch. He led off first, Gossage wheeled and fired, hitting a diving Washington in the ribs.

"He had that big bushy moustache," Washington said. "He walks over to first, picks up the ball, and says: 'Where you goin', youngblood?' "

Washington answered: "I just want to get up and see if my ribs are broken, Mr. Goose."

C.C. GETS A D

Through his first three starts this season, Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia was 0-2 with an 11.57 earned-run average -- the highest ERA in history through the first three starts for a reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.

NOT CLEANING UP

Whether it was Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez or Mark Teixeira, the Texas Rangers usually have had a home-run threat in the cleanup spot.

When Carlos Beltran homered Wednesday for the New York Mets, the Rangers became the only team without a homer from the cleanup hitter.

Entering play last night, Texas cleanup hitters were homerless, with three RBIs in 64 at-bats.

In the No. 4 spot for the Rangers: Hank Blalock was 4-for-22 (.181) without an RBI and two extra-base hits; Milton Bradley was 16-for-41 (.390) with three RBIs; and Ramon Vazquez was 0-for-1.

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THE BOOK ON ...

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher SHAUN MARCUM

What a major-league scout says: "He has an amazing knack of pitching backward and by that I mean he throws a breaking ball in fastball counts and fastballs when a hitter is expecting something off-speed.

"His change has improved a lot.

"He pitches with a still head and he observes the hitters and their swings.

"He has something that you can't teach. He's not there yet, but he's like a right-handed Tom Glavine. He'll watch a hitter and think: 'Ah the next pitch ought to be a little more inside,' or 'Now's a good time to go further outside.' "

Rating out of five: 4

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CAUGHT OFF THE BAG

Bob Elliott looks at the lighter side of baseball

Column ideas are like swinging at curve balls.

The Baltimore Orioles were losing big time at Exhibition Stadium on Sept. 14, 1987. Manager Cal Ripken Sr. lightheartedly asked Ron Washington if he wanted to manage. Washington declined.

Ripken then told Washington to play short in the ninth. "What about Cal?" Washington asked. "Don't worry," the manager said, "I'll worry about Cal Jr." Cal Jr.'s streak of 8.243 consecutive innings was history.

So, too -- as the boss pointed out -- was that the Jays hit 10 homers in the 18-3 win: Three by Ernie Whitt, two apiece by George Bell and Rance Mulliniks, and the others by Lloyd Moseby, Rob Ducey and Fred McGriff.

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NORTHERN LIGHT

TIM SMITH, Toronto, OF, Clinton (class-A)

Smith earned the honours as Canadian minor-leaguer of the week, the best of 62 Canucks in the minors. The Toronto outfielder and Team Ontario grad hit .500 (7-for-14) with two RBIs at class-A Clinton. The Texas Rangers chose Smith in the seventh round in 2007.

RUNNERS-UP

Former Mississauga North teammates Chris Emanuele, who hit .435 with a home run and four RBIs at class-A Dunedin (Blue Jays), and relief pitcher Chris Leroux, who had two wins, pitching 22/3 shutout innings, for class-A Jupiter (Marlins).

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FARM REPORT

Blue Jays minor league essentials

TEAM (LEVEL) W L GBL

Syracuse (AAA) 8 7 2

Josh Banks SP: 0-2, 7.02 ERA

New Hampshire (AA) 3 10 7

S. Campbell 2B: 43 AB, .442, 2 HRs, 2 RBIs

Dunedin (A) 9 5 --

Cory Patton OF: 49 AB, .367, 1 HR, 8 RBIs

Lansing (A) 8 6 1/2

Kyle Ginley SP: 17.2 IP, 21 Ks, 1.53 ERA

Yesterday's games not included


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