As I do every time this year, I mail in my Hall of Fame ballot. To grow up loving baseball and to vote for the Hall of Fame is a tremendous thrill. It is also a responsibility I take greatly, which is why I don’t understand the rationale of some of colleagues who use their vote as a political statement. If you don’t want to vote, then surrender your vote.
I can comprehend checking off two or three names if that’s all you believe are worthy and not the ten maximum. If you want to vote in a steroid user that’s your prerogative.
But, what I will never get is them believing, is because of the flux of steroid users that there are more than ten qualified candidates and therefore not submitting any ballot.
Just vote for your top ten and move on. Because candidates stay on the ballot based on the percentage of votes, there’s a chance worthy players will be left off. That’s blatantly unfair and penalizes deserving players.
How can you cover Major League Baseball for at least ten straight years – the requirement to vote – and you’re not able come up with a top ten? Just makes no sense.
I take pride in my vote, do a lot of research and talk to players, managers, coaches and general managers to gain input. And, it’s still hard. Here are my top ten and why:
Craig Biggio: He should have been voted in last year. Over three thousand hits. Aren’t you paying attention?
Mike Piazza: I hear the steroid rumors, but that’s all they are. Innuendo and some back acne aren’t reason enough to bar him.
Jeff Bagwell: Like Piazza, he’s not linked to steroids in any official capacity. Writers should be more responsible than to buy into rumors.
Tim Raines: Arguably one of the three best leadoff hitters in history along with Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.
Lee Smith: There’s a bias against him, but he’s third on the career list with over 400 saves.
Edgar Martinez: There’s a bias against him, also, because he’s a designated hitter. But, that’s an official position, and he was as good as anybody at it.
Mike Mussina: He could have pitched another two years and won 300 games, which is automatic entry. Seventeen straight seasons with double-digit victories, and 11 overall with fifteen or more, often pitching with inferior teams against the American League East.
Randy Johnson: A ten-time All-Star and five-time Cy Young Award winner with over 300 victories and 4,875 strikeouts. He’s a slam dunk. He also threw over 200 innings in 14 seasons.
Pedro Martinez: He was an eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner. His average season was 17-8 with a 2.93 ERA and 217 innings pitched.
John Smoltz: He won 213 games, but likely would have won over 300 if he didn’t miss the 2000 season with an injury and returned as a closer where in saved 154 games.
I did not vote for any of the players who were directly linked to steroids, either by direct testimony from other players or were mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Until the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball put a notation on their plaques they played in the steroid era and their records come with an asterisk, that will be my stand.