You knew this day was coming. The media made sure everybody would know. And on Tuesday it will be the day of reckoning for the Hall of Fame Class of 2013, at least the ones with links to steroid use, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. For me I have gone over this issue in my mind time and time again. While I think cheaters dont belong in the Hall, there is a part of me that thinks the problem was so deep and involved so many hitters and probaly more pitchers than has been made public there needs to be some acknowledgement by the Hall. Bonds and Clemens were probaly already HOFers long before either of them ever touched PEDs. Look, there are a lot of players in the Hall who werent angels and who knows if some of them were using something that could be considered performance enhancing(greenies?cocaine?) And what about Gaylord Perry? I have always been troubled by the writers stance of keeping out the PED users for being cheaters, while allowing an admitted spitballer, which I believe had been outlawed for 40 years by the time Perry started roughing up baseballs in the early 60s. If you want to keep out PED users, fine, but dont give me this self righteous nonsense about keeping out cheaters because it smells of hypocrisy. I dont have a problem with keeping Bonds and Clemens out, but Im sick of the writers getting on their high horses about what terrible people these players are for using steroids.
Now on to the ballot itself. These are the players I would vote for if I had a ballot, which in a perfect world, I would.
1. Jeff Bagwell.........this guy is a HOFer. He was simply among the best hitters of his generation, combining power with a high batting average consistently and shame on the BBWA for keeping him out simply because he was a teammate of the tragic figure of the steroid era, Ken Caminiti, sorry guys, "guilt by association" is NOT a good enough reason to keep Bags out!
2. Craig Biggio.......Biggio was among the best 2nd Baseman of the 90s, as well as the way he handled a change in positions twice. And having 3000 hits doesnt hurt, there is no Hall eligible player with 3000 hits who is not in the HOF.
3. Lee Smith........when Lee Smith retired he was the all time saves leader. I believe he had something like 6 consecutive 30 save seasons, at a time when 30 saves in a season still meant something. He should be in the Hall of Fame.
4.Tim Raines........there was a time when I didnt think Raines belonged, but the more I think about it, the more I feel he should be in. I think he compares favorably to Ricky Henderson and he maintained a high level for about 12 years before he began to fall off.
5. Edgar Martinez.........another case where the writers get on their high horses. Ive never been the biggest fan of the DH and I do think there are a lot of DHs who were one dimensional hitters, but I think a great hitter is a great hitter and its not like he couldnt have played in the field, in fact he did start his career as a 3rd Baseman, I think he had health issues that forced him to DH, but I think he is a Hall of Famer as a hitter, he deserves to be in.
6. Mike Piazza........this is one thats hard to decide, but I think what it comes down to, was Piazza ever conclusively linnked to steroids in any way? I mean by being in the Mitchell Report, a positive test, a guilty verdict in court or simply being caught with evidence. The answer is, all they have on Piazza is....zits.......plain and simple.........if thats all they have then I have to say that I would vote for him. He was probaly the best offensive catcher of his generation and one of the top hitters in general for several years. He belongs in the Hall.
Those are the players on this years ballot I wouldve voted for. I couldve gone with the 10 the writers are entitled to vote for, but Ive decided that I want to maintain a certain standard. There are certain players that say HOF to me and others I feel borderline on.
Here is why I didnt vote for some of the other players on this years ballot
Jack Morris........Im sorry, postseason greatness alone doesnt make you a HOFer......besides his ERA is awfully high for a pitcher who was supposed among the most dominant of the 80s. And his W-L record doesnt impress me that much, look at some of the great hitters he played with that scored a lot of runs for him, so no hes not a HOFer.
Alan Trammell..........look, I always liked the guy and still do, but aside from 2 maybe 3 great seasons, he was a good, not great player. Yes, I know he played in the same era as Ripken and Yount, but most of the time he was 3rd behind both of them. Not quite HOF material to me.
Fred McGriff..........Ive been very borderline on this guy for a while now. One problem, he was a 1st Baseman in an era of great 1st Basemen, Two, he was never really one of those super dominant hitters, he did stockpile a lot of 30 Homer, 100 RBI seasons, but again that was in an era where that wasnt uncommon. Still if Jim Rice and Andre Dawson can get in, maybe he will. I just cant vote for him right now.
Larry Walker........I have a problem with Walker and it has to do with the fact that he had his best offensive years in a notorious hitters ballpark. I know he won a couple of batting titles, but there are a lot of guys with 2 batting titles not in the HOF. He just doesnt feel like a HOFer to me.
Mark McGwire........Ive always liked Big Mac and even after his admission of using steroids I still do, but I cant really vote for him at this point. Maybe a few years from now, who knows.
Don Mattingly.........Mattingly had some great years in the late 80s then hurt his back. I think hes at least 3 or 4 big seasons short. Id love to vote for him but i cant
Dale Murphy.........Murphy had some great seasons in the early to mid 80s then went into a serious decline and never recovered. He needed at least 3 more big years, so no
Rafael Palmiero..........whenever I think of him I see him wagging his finger in front of Congress. I lost a lot of respect for him that day, even more when he tested positive for PEDs.'nuff said..........
Bernie Williams........Bernie was a good player for the Yankees who had a decent career, but so did Tommy Heinrich, Charlie Keller, Gene Woodling, Gil McDougald, Elston Howard, Willie Randolph.......I think you can see where Im going here........sorry, not HOF material.
Curt Schilling..........see Jack Morris, though I might add that the fact hes a long winded, know-it-all big mouth doesnt help him at all!
Kenny Lofton.........I always liked Kenny, going back to his college basketball days with Arizona, the fact that he was a winner pretty much everywhere he went is a plus and he was a terrific hitter in his prime, but I think his prime ended too soon. If he had put in 2 or 3 more great years maybe we could talk, but hes on the outside looking in
Sammy Sosa........I love Sammy, but I have trouble seeing him as a HOFer, even if the 600 homers were earned without help. His prime was just too short. I think he needed at least 2, maybe 3 more 50 homer, 100 RBI, .290 seasons.
David Wells..........he pitched a perfect game, won 20 games once........his career ERA was over 4, plus, like Schilling hes a big mouthed know it all Sorry, no vote for you.....
Steve Finley.........had a very solid career, a couple of great years, never really HOF material
Julio Franco.........Julio had a lot of longevity, had a few great years, but not enough to even consider him HOF material
There are really no other players on the ballot that had enough great seasons in their careers to even merit consideration.......sorry guys
This is my ballot, its my opinion. Take from it what you will.