The 2010 Hall of Fame class will be announced later this week, and my ballot was mailed in before the Saturday deadline – one of my final obligations before the New Year.
There were more than 30 eligible candidates, including 19 who appeared on the ballot for the first time – guys like Bret Boone, John Olerud, Larry Walker and Rafael Palmeiro.
There were those, like Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Jack Morris and Barry Larkin, who got more than 50 per cent of the votes from Baseball Writers of American Association members last year.
Each eligible writer – you have to have covered the game for at least 10 years – can vote for as many as 10 players each year, or send in an empty ballot.
Me? I put nine men on my 2010 ballot, and I wrestled with a handful of others.
Here are the players who got my vote: Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Morris, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.
Among the guys I didn’t vote for included some all-time personal favorites: Harold Baines, Boone, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Olerud, Larry Walker. Each was a player I enjoyed watching play the game, and liked as much or more off the field.
And then there was Palmeiro. Great numbers, good guy, denies what major league baseball said it had irrefutable evidence of – the use of performance enhancing drugs that were taken by injection.
No, not tainted shakes or supplements. Hard-core stuff that required injections.
Palmeiro was a marvelous hitter – a .288 average with a .371 on-base percentage, 569 home runs and 1,853 RBI. He won Gold Gloves for his defense, was an All-Star in an era of great first baseman.
But if I can’t vote for McGwire, who I always liked spending time with, I have to use the same yardstick with Palmeiro. We’ll never know how much their statistics were helped by steroids, but the evidence says they used them.
So no, I won’t put anyone caught using PEDs on a Hall of Fame ballot. Not when one of the qualifications for the honor is integrity.
I’m open to arguments for anyone I didn’t vote for this year, and to anyone’s thoughts on the players I did. One of the beauties of the Hall of Fame election process is its subjectivity.
John McGrath is as good as any columnist in the country – a delightful baseball expert and press box companion- and we often disagree on our ballots. Let me know what you think, and we’ll talk more when the results are made official.
And Happy New Year.