My Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

On Wednesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame voting results will be announced.

And normally, there’s at least one sure thing or even two. Last year, there was no debate that Ken Griffey, Jr. was a lock to make it to Cooperstown, New York on his first try.

This year, there are nothing but question marks. It’s hard to look at the list of candidates and think there’s a shoo-in, especially since the Steroid Era has muddied the water.

Without the scandal, catcher Pudge Rodriguez would be a layup on his first try. But he was linked to steroids in Jose Canseco’s book. Some writers won’t let that slide, even though he never tested positive.

Then there are some sentimental picks, namely outfielder Tim Raines. Some think he will finally make it in his final year of eligibility. Last year, Raines got 69.8 percent of the vote. You need 75 percent to get in. 

And when the latest class for induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame is revealed, will Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens finally make it? Results of early voting has them trending up big time. Or will their punishment for the steroid scandal continue?

Hence, the debate will be hot after the results. Not just about the players voted in, but the ones left out.

Friends and family members will mostly curse the writers who didn’t pick their favorite players.

Without question, it is my most-prized possession – the privilege to vote players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

To me, this time around, just like a year ago, closer Trevor Hoffman should be voted in. But for some reason, relievers have not been always respected by voters.

For sure, this columnist is in the minority. And not just about voting for closers, but controversial figures in Steroid Era. I’m willing to vote for great players who were caught up in the performance enhancing drug scandal that rocked MLB, while most of my brethren aren’t.

Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield all belong.

My way of voting is simple: If there’s a debate, based on your numbers, about you being in the Hall of Fame, you AREN’T a Hall of Famer.

Go ahead. Debate me on Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Ty Cobb, George Brett or even Tom Seaver.

You can’t. There is no argument. Their careers weren’t very good. They were great.

It’s not the Hall of the Very Good. But that’s where some voters have taken it.

The Steroid Era can’t be ignored, treated as if it didn’t happen. It did.

Check the record book. Bonds is the all-time home run hitter with 762. He also won seven MVPs. Clemens won seven Cy Youngs.

Some writers want to be judge and jury. They want to vote on suspicion, not based on facts.

It’s not our job.

Our job is to vote on the stats presented to us.

I voted for seven players this year.

1. Trevor Hoffman – Was the second most successful closer in MLB history. Only Mariano Rivera did the job better.

In 18 seasons, Hoffman was the first closer to record both 500 and 600 career saves. He recorded at least 30 saves in 14 out of 15 seasons from 1995-2009. Case closed.

2. Barry Bonds – All-time HR leader. Enough said. Never tested positive for PEDS. Why? Because they didn’t test for it before 2006.

3. Sammy Sosa – Again, a magic number like 609 homers should get you in. Also didn’t test positive, just like Bonds and Mark McGwire.

4. Roger Clemens – His career record of 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA speaks for itself. And he also never tested positive.

5. Gary Sheffield – Sheff has a magic number. He hit over 500 homers in his career, 509 to be exact. Played 22 seasons, won a batting title. Also never tested positive.

6. Pudge Rodriguez – He won a record 13 Gold Gloves, an MVP, a World Series championship and made 14 All-Star teams. Let’s not forget he caught the most games of anyone in MLB history and has the most hits by a catcher.

7. Lee Smith – Was all-time save leader when he retired. Another example of disrespect for closers.  He falls off the ballot after this vote.

I can hear fans now: No Tim Raines. No Jeff Bagwell. No Vladimir Guerrero. No Mike Mussina.  No Edgar Martinez. No Manny Ramirez. Nope.

Let the debate begin – again.

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