Voting for the next Hall of Fame class is currently underway, as ballots are due by the end of the year. As we discussed recently, this year’s class makes for extremely difficult choices, given the depth and character of the former players now available for enshrinement.
And, because of that ballot depth – adding Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent, among others, to a group that already includes the heavyweights of the Steroid Era – the foundation has been laid for one of the most contentious, and potentially obnoxious, voting seasons in the Hall’s history.
Look no further than Deadspin’s ongoing effort to purchase a ballot (recently scuttled and then un-scuttled) to be used by readers of the site, which is designed to make a statement about the fractured, and disappointing process. As Keith Law points out today, granting lifetime voting rights to folks who’ve been Baseball Writers Association of America members for at least 10 years guarantees an electorate that could be a healthy bit out of touch with what’s actually going on in the baseball world.
Take a look blogging blogger who blogs, Murray Chass*, who today revealed his ballot and the reasons for it. After saying that he’ll vote for Jack Morris (naturally), Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine (and possibly Frank Thomas, though he’s still not decided), Chass offers his excluded list:
The boxes next to these 10 names will not get an X: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Eric Gagne, Paul Lo Duca, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa.
These non-exes won’t get my vote because they were proved to have cheated, admitted they cheated or are strongly suspected of having cheated. I have not voted for any player in those categories and am not prepared to start doing so now.
Setting aside, as Hardball Talk humorously points out, that there are plenty of good reasons not to vote for some of those guys, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone even whisper Biggio’s name in connection with PEDs. I also have long thought it very unfair to include Bagwell and Piazza in such lists without a little more evidence.
That, of course, underscores the huge problem with excluding juicers from the Hall: even if we all agree that cheaters should be kept out, how in the world are we ever going to agree on which guys actually cheated?
For a more healthy example of the struggles that go into HOF voting in this era, read Steve Simmons’ process on putting together his ballot. I don’t agree with everything he says, and there’s a healthy dose of moralizing, but it’s also useful to see how densely packed the ballot is this year when you’re limited to just 10 names (hell – Simmons doesn’t even discuss, let alone vote for, Craig Biggio or Tim Raines).
*(For those who don’t actually click that link – and if you haven’t, don’t bother – Chass has a comical antipathy for bloggers. He is not actually a blogger, and I’m not sure how welcomed he would be into our gutterly ranks.)