Silence can say so much. And Mark McGwire’s silence has been telling us a lot.

He hasn’t uttered a solitary word in public this week about being snubbed by the media members responsible for Hall of Fame voting. In fact, he hasn’t really said anything since his memorable appearance before U.S. congress years ago. And, actually, he didn’t say anything then, either. He has steadfastly refused to comment on whether he may have used performance-enhancing drugs, which, of course, has led folks to conclude that he did and which, of course, caused voters to pass on him this week.

And now, as a salt rubber, a Missouri legislator wants to strip the ex-slugger of the highway named after him during his record-setting season with St. Louis eight years ago.


Look, the notion that McGwire used steroids en route to his 583 home runs (seventh in major-league history) irks me. His accomplishments, in my mind, are tainted.

We live in a forgiving society, however, and if McGwire ends his silence, my views probably would change. If he can muster up enough strength to publicly acknowledge his judgmental errors, remind us that he committed them during a period when baseball really had no rules precluding steroids, and if he can appear at least slightly remorseful, there’d be sympathy for him and, before long, induction into Cooperstown. And that’d pave the way for Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and others linked with performance enhancement.

McGwire was important to baseball. He was a one-dimensional player, granted, but it was an important dimension, and he was important because he recaptured hearts with his power at a time when the game was in serious jeopardy of losing its mass appeal.

Give the guy a break.

•Bonds, meanwhile, does nothing to enhance his image or baseball’s.

He still hasn’t signed the $20-million US contract he was offered by San Francisco in early December, primarily because the Giants won’t agree to let members of his entourage in their locker room. Also, there was a report yesterday that Bonds failed a test under MLB’s amphetamine policy last season.

Prediction: When Bonds surpasses Henry Aaron to become baseball’s homer king, Aaron won’t be there. Nor will commissioner Bud Selig.

Bonds is loathed. And yet he must be in Cooperstown. Excluding Pete Rose is senseless enough. If Bonds isn’t in, baseball shouldn’t even have a hall of fame any more.

Morris Peterson will be traded any day now by the Raptors. He wants out of Toronto and, more significantly, management wants him out ... Look for NBC to land retired running back Tiki Barber for sports and news assignments ... And, for my latest NHL Report,

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