This is the ballot I have waited for. My baseball Hall of Fame ballot landed in my mailbox today. It always arrives in the first week of December and the deadline for voting is the last week in December. Results will be announced on January 9th at 2 pm.
This year’s ballot is particularly interesting because it includes an unusually large number of new names — 24 first-year candidates — including the notorious Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.
No, I won’t vote for them. None of the three. Statistically, they’re off the charts — Bonds, the all-time home run king with 762 round trippers and seven National League MVP awards; Sosa 609 home runs; Clemens 354 wins and a record seven Cy Young awards.
But they are forever tainted. They were juicers, headliners in the steroid era.
Keep in mind, the rules for consideration have been modified in recent years. The criterion for election includes playing record, ability, INTEGRITY, SPORTSMANSHIP, CHARACTER AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO HIS TEAMS. Those minor details were not always included.
We are under no deadline to render judgment on anybody. We have 15 years. They’ll be on the ballot for 15 years as long as they receive five percent of the vote each year, which is likely for Bonds, Sosa and Clemens. Last year, for example, 573 sportswriters voted. Roughly the same number will vote this year, so they require only about 30 votes to stay alive. It takes 75 per cent of the vote for election. Last year Barry Larkin was elected with 495 votes.
Fifteen years provides time to understand the steroid era. Already Mark McGwire has been bypassed six times. Last year he received 20 per cent of the vote. Rafael Palmeiro has been ignored twice before. Last year he garnered 13 per cent. Based on numbers alone, they deserve strong consideration. But they were alleged juicers. We need more time before we put an “X” next to their names.
Among the the other first-year candidates, Curt Schilling and David Wells will get some attention, but they are longshots for election.
Four former Indians are on the ballot for the first time. They are Sandy Alomar, Kenny Lofton, Julio Franco and — aghast! — Jose Mesa. I’ll vote for Alomar and Lofton.
I’ll also vote for Lee Smith, the great reliever who is running out of time. This is Smith’s 11th year on the ballot. Last year he got 50 per cent. I fear he’ll never make it. Jack Morris got 68 per cent last year and Jeff Bagwell 56 per cent. Morris has two years remaining. This is his 14th year on the ballot. Bagwell has plenty of time. This is his third year.
Anyway, I’m now going to get started on my homework. I’ll tell you how I voted in a few days.