From Seattle Times’ columnist Larry Stone:
Here is my Hall of Fame vote:
- Jeff Bagwell
- Craig Biggio
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Tom Glavine
- Greg Maddux
- Edgar Martinez
- Mike Piazza
- Tim Raines
- Frank Thomas
Yes, I voted for the maximum 10 again – but the way I always look at it, I voted for three – first-timers Maddux, Glavine and Thomas – and re-voted for seven.
And, by virtue of the logjam that’s building up, I reluctantly unvoted for three: Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker, all of whom got my check mark last year but just couldn’t fit on a 10-person ballot. I hope to be able to vote for all three again in the future.
Last year, I had to unvote Mark McGwire. Even throwing out the obviously unqualified candidates like Armando Benitez and Richie Sexson, it’s a jam-packed ballot. I would have loved to vote for Mike Mussina, another first-timer on the ballot, and I gave a long look at Jeff Kent. Fred McGriff always merits strong consideration, and so do Jack Morris (who is in his 15th and final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot), Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Don Mattingly and Rafael Palmeiro.
The big question, of course, facing each voter, before you get down to the hard-core business of evaluating a players’ body of work, is what to do with the steroids crowd – guys like Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro, McGwire. There’s also a second group of players who have garnered suspicions of PED use, enough to dissuade some voters from supporting them.
I’ve been very clear about where I stand, which I explained here and here . I don’t want to get into it again in-depth, but I’ve decided to judge players on their merits, regardless of steroids innuendo (the only exception being Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive after MLB and the union agreed on a drug-testing program with penalties).
Here’s a realistic scenario I think could change the dynamics of this discussion: If a player gets voted into the Hall of Fame, and then evidence is uncovered, let’s say by an investigative reporter, that reveals his steroids use. I doubt if the Hall of Fame would kick him out under such a circumstance. The precedent would then be established: A steroids user in the Hall of Fame (which could be the case already, by the way). I think the hard-line anti-steroids voters would slowly evolve towards a more lenient attitude if this happened.
At any rate, I fear that Edgar Martinez will be a victim of the crowded ballot. Some people who voted for him in the past are bound to knock him off their ballot to make room for Maddux, Thomas, et al. I would be shocked if Edgar’s vote total doesn’t go down when the results are revealed tomorrow, perhaps significantly. It’s going to be a long haul for Martinez to get in, which he recognizes.
I think it’s time for the BBWAA to take a good look at altering the 10-vote limit, in light of the fact that guys like Bonds and Clemens are getting enough votes to stay on the ballot, but not enough to get in. While I don’t expect last year’s Hall of Fame shutout to be replicated – Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Biggio and Piazza could all get in, judging from various tallies of votes that have been made public – but the wave of strong candidates is going to continue. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield enter the ballot next year, and Ken Griffey Jr. the year after.
I’d hate to see the “unvote” list grow.
Big thanks to Larry for doing this …. Geoff, you are on the clock.