Each year I break down the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, with predictions of who I think will get in. The only thing missing was an actual vote. But now as a proud member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA), I have a vote. Granted, it is not for the real Hall of Fame, but our vote has some influence. There was a bit of controversy last year when the BBWAA did not vote anyone into the Hall but the IBWAA selected Mike Piazza.
The rules are the same — 75% to get in, up to 10 players per ballot. The only difference is that since Piazza was already voted in, he is not on the ballot. And Barry Larkin, who is in the Hall but has never been voted in by the IBWAA, is on the ballot.
So here is my vote:
As far as first-timers, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas all got my votes. No explanation is necessary — they are all slam dunk first ballot Hall of Famers.
I did not vote for Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina. I might vote for them some day, but I do not think they are special enough to be voted in on the first ballot. I undertand now how writers say they sometimes need more time to decide on a candidate. I used to think,”Either he’s worthy of the Hall or not.” But now that I have a vote, I see it is not that simple.
I voted for Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Biggio had 3000 hits; perhaps he was not dominant and was a bit of a “compiler,” but 3000 hits is 3000 hits. Bagwell is being kept out because of unsubstantiated PED rumors. This is not fair and he deserves induction.
I voted for Fred McGriff. I used to be anti-McGriff; I just felt he was never a dominant player. But a closer look at his statistics shows he was better than we think — 10 seasons of 30+ home runs, eight 100+ RBI seasons, 493 career homers. If he had gotten those seven more home runs, he would have been in by now. Andre Dawson and Jim Rice were more dominant but have lesser numbers. If they are in, McGriff deserves to be as well.
I did not vote for Larkin. Yes, he was the dominant shortstop of his day, but he had little competition. This vote was either going to go to Larkin or McGriff, and I chose McGriff.
Now comes the hard part — I rounded out my ballot with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I have written in the past about how I believe the steroid guys should get in. PEDs were not technically against the rules and everybody from the commission on down knew what was going on. Why punish these players when they were not breaking the rules and MLB was turning a blind eye to the blatant evidence?
Besides, MLB should pay a price for allowing the steroid era to happen, and having those plaques hanging in Cooperstown forever is a fitting punishment.
Players who have tested positive, though, should be banned because they did indeed break the rules. So I did not vote for Rafael Palmeiro.
I can now understand the complaints from writers that the steroids crew is clogging up the ballot. I might have voted for Larkin if there was room. And if Piazza were still on the ballot, I might have left off McGriff. And maybe when I am ready to vote for Kent or Mussina, there will not be enough space.
In any case, I enjoyed the inner debate that went into my vote. Now it’s your turn to debate…