Hall of Fame voting is no easy task for writers in today’s world

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 29: 2007 inductee Tony Gwynn gives his acceptance speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2007 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 29: 2007 inductee Tony Gwynn gives his acceptance speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2007 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) /

When one thinks about the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, many things certainly might come to mind.  Honor, prestige and immortality are some obvious connections for those intertwined with the wonderful sport.

Fans, writers and players of the game of baseball all have their own opinions about qualifications and meaning for the MLB Hall of Fame, giving it a unique and powerful air of baseball prominence.

All play their own special roles in defining the game and its most treasured resting place.

This arbitrary set of membership standards is what gives the development of a big league players’ resume such meaning. Players who are voted in are typically the ones who have not only succeeded on the field, but have also impacted and embraced the game, the fans, and the writers.

Great stats with a forgettable or negative memory left behind usually isn’t enough. To be a Hall of Fame baseball player is to be great, humble, impactful, and embracing all together.

To be a fan of the game is to appreciate the skill, passion, historical relevance that comes with playing and following the game.

To be a writer who covers the game and votes for its ingrained legends is to understand and appreciate everything that goes in to being a player, a fan, a voice, and a true enthusiast of the game of baseball.

This years’ list of eligible candidates highlights these points very well. The 2020 results will be announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on January 21, which is littered with statistically strong-positioned individuals, many of whom have complicated reputations left behind.

Steroid ties, shaky intersport reputations and lack of outstanding general perception will play a factor in the destiny for guys like Curt Schilliing, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez and more.

Fair or not, the system is set up in a way that it is impossible to not hear the noise. It is still up to each voter to determine what constitutes a Hall of Famer, taking everything into account.

In an alternate universe where I was somehow given the opportunity to cast votes for this years’ class, I would be forced to make some tough decisions regarding the aforementioned complicated resume dealings.

Voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 balloted players with no requirement to cast any vote.

With no hesitation, however, my first vote would be cast for Yankee legend Derek Jeter, who is making his first appearance on a ballot in 2020.

Jeter is a no-brainer in my opinion, leaving behind a remarkable footprint on the game, while also reaching significant statistical milestones such as reaching 3,000 hits, making 14 All-Star Games and winning five Gold Gloves (to name a few). It’s hard to imagine not voting for Jeter in any scenario.

A second vote wouldn’t be as easy, but would still be made for pitcher Roger Clemens. Clemens has the baggage of PED ties that make this difficult and complex, but his statistical weight with 354 wins, 7 Cy Young Awards, and 4,672 strikeouts are very strong.

The facts I have in front of me make it hard to leave him off my ballot.

While I weighed the possibility of placing additional votes for guys like Barry Bonds, Larry Walker and Omar Vizquel, I would not cast any more votes, leaving my ballot with just the two.

I would not be surprised nor upset with a few other candidates garnering enough from other voters, but didn’t feel comfortable placing votes I couldn’t convince myself of.

So there you have it. My fantasy world of being a BBWAA voter for the 2020 MLB Hall of Fame concludes with 2 votes, and 8 unused.

Interesting even in a fake reality to imagine the pressure and responsibility the writers are granted.

Dozens of players who all have cases to be made for themselves to be voted into baseball glory forever are reliant on a system that includes an arbitrary, yet worthy group of individuals that rely on a shared passion of the best sport in the world.

Maybe that’s why Tony Gwynn, the most worthy Hall of Fame candidate ever in the running, used the word “validation” when describing what being inducted would mean to him.

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Even the best know how complex but meaningful the honor is. It’s a full circle realization that a players’ greatness was witnessed and enjoyed by people who can best make that judgement.