My baseball Hall of Fame vote, if I had one

Welcome to the new year and the debut of “210 Sports”. The plan is to update this blog a couple times a week, on the “off” days I’m not making posts on my books/entertainment blog called Random thoughts of 210Darryl. Knowing how well my planning usually works posting here will start out on schedule, slowly move to sporadic at best, and then I’ll finally find a schedule that really works.

With the results of the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America being announced on January 6th it seemed like my imaginary ballot would be a good place to kick off this blog. I have no doubt my ballot probably won’t come close to what the so called “experts” decide, but it will be fun to see how close I get. To be eligible to cast a real ballot vote a person must be a BWAA member for at least 10 years and cover baseball for 10 consecutive years for an accredited outlet. I, obviously, have neither qualification. But I do watch a lot of baseball, so that must count for something.

Within the rules determined by the Baseball Hall of Fame, BWAA writers can vote for up to 10 players on the ballot and may use any criteria they see fit in selecting which players from the ballot to vote for. I am a huge fan of the way Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram, my local newspaper, decides who to vote for: “you would buy a ticket just so you could tell your grandchildren you saw him perform”. That is as great a reason to vote for anyone as I have ever heard. (BTW, Ballou doesn’t have a blog and if anyone on the planet should, it’s him.)

One of the big issues surrounding the Baseball Hall of Fame is how voters will deal with players that allegedly used performance enhancing drugs. It’s an issue I’m not intelligent enough to solve on this blog, so I’m not even going to try. If they’re on the ballot, they’re eligible for the Hall of Fame. Should there be a point where Major League Baseball decides those players are not eligible, then they can be removed from the Hall. So for now if they’re on the ballot and I think they’re Hall of Fame material I’ll include them on my imaginary ballot, even in the case of a few of the players I’ve selected where I’m fairly certain the use of PEDs is the reason for their Hall of Fame careers.

There are 34 names on the ballot this year, and in case there’s someone reading who has no idea at this point who they are Baseball-reference.com has a listing. Obviously most of those can be crossed off with ease as their inclusion seems to be just so there are more than a handful of names on the ballot. The converse is also true and there are a couple that are automatics and, to be blunt, should have been elected last season (or earlier).

So this is my ballot:
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martinez
Mark McGwire
Curt Schilling
Lee Smith
John Smoltz

Each of these players passes the “I would by a ticket just to see them play” test, and in many cases I did just that. Not included on my list is the player that just missed making the Hall last season and will likely make it this time, Craig Biggio. You need 75% of the ballots to have your name on it and Biggio was just short at 74.8%, which worked out to just two votes needed. But he doesn’t pass the test in my opinion. A very good player, no doubt, but not one I’d buy a ticket just to go see. Mike Piazza is in the same boat, likely elected this time around (he had 62% last time) but he’s another player I wouldn’t buy a ticket to see. Players like Mike Mussina and Nomar Garciaparra will get a lot of official votes, but to me they aren’t Hall of Famers either.

For me Bonds, Clemens, Johnson, Smith, Smoltz, and Martinez are absolute automatics. They are among the best of the best all-time, and in some cases I question the motives of voters that do not include them. On the other hand, Schilling is an interesting case because while I would and did buy a ticket just to watch him pitch his 216 regular season wins in a 20 year career are hardly impressive. Schilling really made his bones in the post season, winning three series MVP awards and three World Series crowns. He was just about as automatic as they come in the playoffs, and to me that makes him worthy of the Hall of Fame.

I have to hold my nose in voting for McGwire. It’s obvious to me he used PEDs, but unlike Bonds and Clemens McGwire probably wouldn’t have sniffed the Hall of Fame without some artificial help. Voters seem unlikely to include him, but he passes my test. Everyone–excepting opposing pitchers–loves a tape-measure homerun, and McGwire hit boatloads of them and at the time fans loved it. Now, of course, is a different story.

So did I get it right? Did I not include someone that you think is an “automatic”? Let me know in the comments section below.

-30-

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