It is, without question, my most-prized possession – the privilege to vote players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Baseball Writers Association of America members have until today, December 31, to cast their votes on this year's ballot.
For sure, this columnist is in the minority. 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.
Some sports writers are so caught up on punishing the Steroid Era that they have overvalued previous players that simply aren't Hall-worthy, including Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven.
By doing so, they are almost doing more damage to the American Pastime than the players who used PEDs.
They've blurred the lines, skewed the facts and now use that new math we never adopted 40 years ago in this country.
They are wrong, dead wrong.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa all belong. But not Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive after MLB's anti-PED rules were in place.
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 Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams 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 or 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.
A skinny McGwire still has the rookie record for home runs with 49. The same McGwire who once hit 32 HRs in 67 games in a single college season. Yes, he was a slugger long before he bulked up.
Some writers want to be judge and jury. They want to vote on suspicion, not based on facts.
It's not our job.
Here's my cheat sheet for the Class of 2014. There are 36 players on the BBWAA ballot, including 27 first-timers. Each writer can vote for no more than 10 players.
I will vote for nine, the players with stars next to their names. My ballot is broken up into four categories. Shoo-ins, Tainted Shoo-ins, Longshots and No Way, No How.
*Greg Maddux – Piece of cake. He has that magic number – 300 wins, 355 to be exact. It's an incredible feat when you think you could win 20 games a year for 14 years and not get to 300.
*Tom Glavine – Another layup. Hard to argue 305 wins.
*Frank Thomas – The Big Hurt smacked an impressive 521 homers. Again, 500 or more HRs is a magic number, an automatic vote from me.
*Craig Biggio – He has 3,060 hits. It's not easy feat. No one just keeps you around long enough to get there. You have to be productive for a long time. Another magic number for me is 3,000 hits. You get my vote.
*Barry Bonds – All-time HR leader. Never tested positive for PEDS. Why? Because they didn't test for it before 2006.
*Mark McGwire – Has magic number, a whopping 583 HRs. Didn't test positive, just like Bonds.
*Sammy Sosa – Again, a magic number like 609 homers should get you in. Also didn't test positive, just like Bonds and McGwire.
*Roger Clemens – His career record of 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA speaks for itself. And he also never tested positive.
*Lee Smith – Was all-time save leader when he retired. Another example of disrespect for closers. He will get my vote until he falls off the ballot.
No way, no how
Jack Morris never won a Cy Young and has chubby 3.90 ERA. Jeff Bagwell wasn't a career .300 hitter, doesn't have 3,000 hits. Mike Piazza has no magic numbers, falling more than 70 short of 500 homers. Mike Mussina has very good numbers and will get consideration from some, but they aren't HOF numbers to me. He never won a Cy Young or led the league in earned run average.
Palmeiro has two magic numbers with 3,020 hits and 569 HRs. Because he failed a PED test after new rules were in place, he probably will never get in. I've never voted for him.
The rest of these players all fall short to even debate their worthiness.