The Hall of Fame: Sharing My Ballot


I wish to start this piece by congratulating Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio and John Smoltz on being elected the National Baseball Hall of Fame, as each will be enshrined this coming July. While I am not a voting member of the BBWAA, I am a voting member of the alternate organization, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. It was founded by Mr. Howard Cole, and he sought to give us–the baseball bloggers who aren’t a member of the print media, a voice, and a say. While the IBWAA has no bearing on the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Cole has develped a pseudo-Hall of Fame for those elected by the IBWAA members. And no, those elected on our ballot are not identical to those that the BBWAA selects. 

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For example, the BBWAA elected Barry Larkin, and he’s a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In our organization, he has yet to make the cut, and this year, he received 64.32% of the membership vote. Another example, five-minute Friar, Mike Piazza doesn’t appear on our ballot, because he was already elected. Go figure. It would be an honor to be asked to join the BBWAA, but since that hope won’t be fulfilled any time soon, I’m satisfied representing the IBWAA, and today, I will briefly share my thoughts on some of those I voted for and why, and list out my entire ballot. Enjoy!

The four men elected today by the BBWAA all received my vote, and they were no-brainers. Big Unit, Pedro, Smoltzey, and Biggio, are no doubters. To me, it was a travesty that Biggio wasn’t selected on the first ballot. Say what you will, but the man played three different positions well, and was one of the top lead-off men during his prime. He didn’t use steroids, and is an example of what a professional should be. I was glad to see him get the call this year.

I’ll share something else with you about my thought process on PEDs and the “Steroid Era”. The writers who covered that generation of ballplayers can deny deny deny all they want, but no educated person, who is around these players day-in and day-out for multiple seasons, who DIDN’T notice something was happening right in front of them, is flat out in…denial. I have a personal issue with the writers who covered these players every day of the season, playing judge, jury, and executioner when they failed to say even a single word about it when they were covering the players DURING the era.

If you couldn’t see the transformations of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa physically, you’re dumber than I thought. The only two writers to my knowledge that even broached the topic, and were quickly shut down, were Thomas Boswell and Rick Reilly. Kudos to them. My issue is that these writers didn’t have the stones or the backbone to call these players–or the Commissioner of Baseball out at the time, but they stand on their soapbox and say “No!” to suspected or known users now, shouldn’t have a say after the fact. Talk about hypocrisy.

Before I get much further into the players I voted for and why, I will say, I voted for Steroid Era players. Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell (yet to be proven) and Sheffield. They all got my vote. No matter how hard you try, you can’t erase an entire era of baseball history. The solution is simple. You vote these greats in, and on their plaque, the Hall of Fame uses it it as an educational tool–which is what a museum is supposed to do. They need to explain that although the player is one of the greatest, his career was shrouded in controversy as possibly being a user or is a known user of PEDs and/or steroids. Problem solved.

A true Hall of Fame without the all-time home run leader, the single-season home run record holder, the all-time hits king, and one of the most dominant right-handed pitchers of all-time, isn’t truly a Hall of Fame, but a good ol’ boys club. It’s not the Hall of Nice Guys. It’s not the Hall of Questionable Integrity. It’s the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Period.

So, now that I’ve shared my thoughts on who, how and why, let’s get to my ballot. These aren’t in any specific order other than alphabetical, and you might just find yourself wanting to dig a little deeper to find out if you agree with me or not.

Jeff Bagwell: 449 career bombs, former MVP, and has never appeared on a list such as the Mitchell Report, been outed by a former teammate, or failed a drug test. His comments at one point, saying he has no issue with a player using, is most likely what has hurt him with the writers.

-Barry Bonds: 7-time NL MVP, and was a lock for the Hall of Fame even before his feet and head grew. It’s like Peter Gammons once said about Bonds: “Had he retired prior to the 1999 season, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer.” The all-time leader in home runs among other things, while not being a great teammate or a media darling, was the most dominating and feared hitter of his generation.

Roger Clemens: 7-time Cy Young Winner, 350+ games won, and Ks galore. Again like Bonds, I can’t justify keeping this guy out. He was every bit as dominating in his prime as Randy Johnson. Plus, I’m still waiting for scientific evidence that suggests striking out 20 hitters in a game not once, but twice, is the product of using PEDs, along with winning multiple Cy Youngs BEFORE he met Brian McNamee.

Jeff Kent: C’mon, really voters? The guy is the all-time leader in home runs as a second baseman, and revolutionized the expectations teams put on their keystone occupants with the bat. A former MVP was somewhat of a jerk, and played for many teams, and blossomed later than most, but he’s one of the greatest run producers to ever play the position.

-Barry Larkin: Hard to not vote for the shortstop that was the gold standard after Ozzie Smith retired. Former MVP, world champion, excellent all-around player. Easy decision here.

Edgar Martinez: The first superstar DH that was a DH in his prime. The man gets no love, but if the DH is a part of the game, he should get his just due for being one of the most feared hitters of the 1990s.

Don Mattingly: Do me a favor. Go to, pull up Kirby Puckett‘s career and print it out, then do the same for Mattingly. The glaring difference? Puckett has a pair of rings. That’s it. Mattingly is considered one of the greatest defensive first baseman in the history of the game, has an MVP, a batting title, and enough Gold Gloves to fill a trophy case by themselves. If Puckett is in, Mattingly should be as well.

Fred McGriff: The Crime Dog. 493 bombs and instead of hanging on and signing with some garbage team to get to the magical 500, he walked away, dignity intact, and he’s paid for it. Nobody is ever going to question his professionalism or class, but these writers who won’t put in a steroid user, won’t reward a guy who did it the right way either. Freddy got my nod.

Mike Mussina: One of the dominating right-handed hurlers of the 1990s, who didn’t earn his first 20-win season until his final campaign in the Bronx. He easily could’ve pitched for a couple of more years to get to 300 wins, which would’ve gained him entry on the first ballot. But like McGriff, when he had enough, he walked away. And for you sabermetricians out there, his numbers are more than comparable to Tom Glavine. Go ahead, look them up.

Tim Raines: 808 stolen bases, and was the National League version of Rickey Henderson. The man earned 55% from the BBWAA, but was ELECTED on our ballot, receiving 79.3% of the vote. I’m hoping 2016 is his year. Sure he bounced around at the end of his career, but during his prime, Rock was one of the most feared top of the order guys of all-time. He set the table for HOFer, Andre Dawson.

Gary Sheffield: The man simply raked wherever he played. Whether it was Milwaukee, here in San Diego, L.A., Atlanta, either of the New York teams, Detroit or down in Miami, the Sheff had one of the most violent swings of all-time, and when you in the 500 home run club, and you DOMINATED the way he did, you’re getting my vote.

Lee Smith: The last of the great multi-inning closers, and one of the most underrated, undercelebrated relievers of all-time. If Bruce Sutter is in, if Goose Gossage is in, then the former saves leader until Trevor Hoffman broke his record, needs to be in.

Alan Trammell: You want to talk about underrated? He and Sweet Lou Whitaker held down the fort for the Tigers for two decades. A former World Series MVP, Trammell’s peak seven seasons are right on par with Cal Ripken, Jr., and are much better than multiple shortstops already in Cooperstown.

So there you have it. The four who got in, plus Tim Raines were all elected by the IBWAA. I took great care to study each player on the ballot, and why they ended up with my “X” next to their name. Of course the ballot is partial. However, I did my very best not to punish a player because he acted like a jerk or wasn’t good with the media. I genuinely feel in my heart of hearts, that each of these men represent the very, very best of their respective generations, regardless of PEDS, falling short in some statistical category, or not being celebrated as they should’ve been during their playing careers.

I’m sure many of you are not going to agree with my votes, nor do you have to. It’s why there is a ballot, and that’s why those who reach the threshold get elected, and those who don’t, don’t. Let me know what you think and share your thoughts! Who did I miss? Who should’ve received my vote and shouldn’t have?

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