I always wait until the last minute before submitting my Hall of Fame ballot. I like to take my time to study the names, consider the numbers and strain to remember games in which I saw them play. There’s just so much to consider.
Not that any one play, or game, or even season matters. It’s about careers, and to my way of thinking, dominant and clean careers. I have no problem with “compilers,’’ players who amassed their numbers because of lengthy careers. After all, players such as Don Sutton and Carl Yastrzemski had to be pretty good to win 300 games or get 3,000 hits.
I do have a problem with those accused of using steroids and didn’t need Joe Morgan’s email to convince me. The essence of sports is for the viewers and opposing players to believe what they are watching and whom they are competing against is true.
That’s not possible when players cheat.
So, if a player fails a drug test, is named on the Mitchell Report, or is accused on the record by a player, coach or manager, I look at that as confirmation of steroid usage. It’s not exactly an admission, but it will have to be enough for me to vote no.
My choices are:
Chipper Jones: More than simply a Met killer, he was an eight-time All-Star and a cornerstone on all those Braves teams that reached the playoffs year after year after year. He had 468 career homers, third behind Hall of Fame switch-hitters Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray.
Jim Thome: What’s not to like about his 612 homers, .402 on-base percentage and .554 slugging percentage, especially when it is done cleanly? He’s a no-brainer to me.
Vladimir Guerrero: I didn’t vote for Guerrero, but only because I voted for Lee Smith, who was in the final year of his eligibility. My thinking was Guerrero would have nine more years on the ballot to make it. But, he was named on 71.7 percent of the ballots, and I think he’ll make it this season.
Mike Mussina: I covered Mussina both with the Orioles and the Yankees, and always regarded him as a money pitcher. He pitched for 18 seasons and won at least 15 games in 11 of them. Mussina won 270 games and could have won 300 if he played another two or three seasons. He had plenty of gas left in his tank as he won 20 games for the only time in his career and pitched 200 innings in the final year of his career. He also had a 1.19 career WHIP and a 3.58 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
Trevor Hoffman: I’m of the belief relievers matter and they all don’t have to be as good as Mariano Rivera. I firmly believe it Hoffman were on the Yankees instead of Rivera they would have still won those World Series.
Edgar Martinez: Being a DH shouldn’t disqualify a player from consideration. It’s a valid baseball position and shouldn’t devalue a player’s candidacy. He has a career slash line of .310/.410/.510, one of only 14 players in history to do so, and nine of them are in the Hall of Fame.
Fred McGriff: If he gets in, it will likely be from the Veterans Committee. With 493 homers – seven shy from what used to be an automatic ticket – he should be a shoo-in. There’s never been a hint of impropriety. He’s a testament to doing it the right way.
Omar Vizquel: Defense is also a part of the game, but often overlooked by the new age stats. But, if Ozzie Smith is a Hall of Famer, then so is Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove Award winner. Vizquel was far from an easy out with 2,877 career hits and a .272 batting average with a .336 on-base percentage.