If I Possessed a BBWAA 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot
I am not a voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Nor do I profess or pretend to be the “almighty and all seeing” eyes of the game, but I can bet the farm easily today that there will be a controversy extended at 1 pm when the official Inductees are announced for this year’s class for Induction this Summer to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Some may say I am posting this at 11:49 am because I know something, but I do not. I am instead wondering just like the rest of you who will join former Philadelphia Phillies writer Bill Conlin who was announced in early December as the J G Taylor Spinks Award winner in the BBWAA first ballot of the year. And within the next hour or so countless other BBWAA members and media savvy folks will be typing away either giving you their 2011 ballot for discussion, or writing prose in defense of them not submitting a certain name or the reasons why they were left off their ballot.
This year there are 14 carry-overs from the potential HOF nominating class of 2010 including two former players who just missed the Hall threshold with less than 75% of the BBWAA votes in 2009. Former slugger and ex-Tampa Bay Rays Second Baseman Roberto Alomar just missed his election in his first year of eligibility after receiving 73.7 percent of the vote. He was joined in that “just missed by a hair” club for men with fellow nominee Bert Blyleven (74.2 %) who missed a 2009 HOF election by a paltry.8 percent of the vote.
Here is the entire list of eligible former MLB players who comprised the voting community that the BBWAA members had to choose from in 2010 (anyone receiving votes in 2009):
Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Harold Baines (6.1%), Bert Blyleven (74.2%), Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Barry Larkin (51.6%), Al Leiter, Edgar Martinez (36.2%), Don Mattingly (16.1%), Mark McGuire (23.7%), Raul Mondesi, Jack Morris (52.3%), Dale Murphy (11.7%), John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Dave Parker (15.2%), Tim Raines (30.4%), Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago, Lee Smith (47.3%), B J Surhoff, Alan Trammel (22.4%) and Larry Walker.
Also under consideration are 4 former Tampa Bay Rays, which include 2 former nominees Roberto Alomar (73.7%) and Fred McGriff (21.5%). The other two are first time nominees this year former Rays First Baseman Tino Martinez and Catcher Charles Johnson.
The list is an impressive selection that includes 2 former AL MVPS, 2 former AL MVPs, 2 Rookie of the Year winners, plus the MLB All Time pinch hit leader and a member of the exclusive 3,000 hit and 500 Home Run fraternity. With these 19 names it was hard to even pick a possible 10 that I would list on my own BBWAA ballot if I ever got a lucky break, but there are also a few that I will never vote for, and maybe that list should be easier for me to compile here. But instead of dragging someone’s MLB career through the mud for my own dislike of them personally, maybe I will just list my 10 personal nominees.
1. Edgar Martinez. I always loved the way the former Mariner always seemed to take the game and molded it into his own style. He is the first HOF nominee who can be mostly classified as a Designated Hitter, and his tenure on this list before Induction might be a testament to the struggles other DH’s will have in the future. But he has been class from the get-go to me, and has a sure fire check next to his name from me.
2. Roberto Alomar. I might not like the way the former Ray left the team before the season, but I can not detest him enough to leave him off the list because of the way he controlled and provided more than a book load of awesome moments both at the plate and turning the pivot in his career. Some might say his exclusion in 2009 might have been a nudge for his spitting incident, but the former Jays/O’s player has more problems currently in Tampa Bay where his wife is claiming some outrageous behavior that makes his spitting seem tame. But based on his skill and grace on the field….He get a head nod and a “sure thing” check mark.
3. Bert Blyleven. Here is another head scratcher for me from the 2009 HOF results. I thought the Manager of the Netherlands WBC squad was more than deserving, but I think 2010 is the year the former Twin hurler gets to be greeted by his already inducted peers on the steps of Cooperstown. He is one of my two sure thing picks.
4. Fred McGriff. What can I say about the former Rays 1B and Special Advisor. When you get a moniker like “Crimedog”, you know he took a bite out of someone. In this case it was 200 Home Runs in each MLB League. But some say his struggle to get to 500 HR might be his downfall. But this character of great integrity and grace deserves a spot in the hallowed halls, even if he will not bear wearing a Rays capo.
5. Don Mattingly. This is the first time I have included “Donny Baseball” on my personal HOF wish list. More and more I have come to admire and respect the former pinstripe for what he did for his city, his team and the accolades he achieved. Now that he is finally getting the reins of a MLB team, hopefully this will be the first of two possible inductions, one as a player, and the second as a MLB Manager.
6. Tim Raines. I never got to see Raines stretch one out for extra bases or see him deliver a pinch hit that produced a walk-off win or moment. And maybe I am bitter about that. But in reality it is the type of player that Raines was, and the fear he instilled in his competition after a long career manning the outfields that should get his name called for Cooperstown. Hopefully he is not the last former Expos to get a chance to grace the Hall of Fame.
7. Dale Murphy. Here is a guy I got to see a lot in regional broadcasts of baseball games since the state of Florida got a lot of Braves games in his heydays. I respect the way he took this team on his back for so many years and lead by example and power to show some of us how the game should be played. The ATL would have been a totally different MLB town if not for the likes of Murphy stroking those long balls out of Turner Field. His HOF speech might be sponsored by TBS, which during his induction would mean, The Best Story”.
8. Jeff Bagwell. I do not know how this ballot could not include Bagwell. Has it really been 5 years since he last strapped on a pair of cleats? I still have that moment in my mind in the Astros dugout when my buddy Brandon Backe came off the mound during a 1-hit miracle in the World Series and “Bags” pumping Brandon up for the next inning with talks on the bench. He could make it on inspiration alone, but his talent will show he is Hall worthy (possibly 2011).
9. Mark McGuire. I am on the fence some days as to the effect that PED’s had on the game. But back in his era, Andro was not a condemned products until it was seen in a photo in McGuire’s locker and then investigated. For that I can not keep him off the HOF ballot, but his recent statements and also his willingness come back back and give of himself as a St. Louis Cardinals Coach speaks volume to the character underneath “Big Macs” now smaller pecs.
10. Shoeless Joe Jackson. I know this is just a personal statement, but Jackson ceased to be a “person” long ago and in it, his MLB restriction should have been lifted. How can the guy Babe Ruth copied his swing from not be HOF worthy. He was a Georgia farm boy who could not write with clarity and possibly buckled to the pressures of his White Sox teammates in the World Series scandal. Until the day I also cease to exist, I will bang the drum the Jackson deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as much as 50% of the guy already deserving of the bronze plague.
Only one guy is on my black list of not getting a vote ever on my HOF ballot. Rafael Palmiero to me boldfaced lied to our collective faces, and Congress, then got caught and suddenly was as silent as a clam. I personally have a problem with someone who put out a mighty persona only to have it crumble down like a house of cheap cards. If he had not produced a positive drug test, then he might have been one of my favorites on this ballot for consideration. But he has tarnished the game in my mind, and for that you get a thumbs down for eternity. If he ever does get inducted, I will gladly turn my back to the screen during you induction, but that is the Renegade way.
Hope you enjoyed reading my little muses on the Hall of Fame ballot I would have submitted if given the chance. Some days I wish there was a few fans votes included into the actual Hall of Fame voting academy, but then someone would be writing from field level instead of the high palace that is the press box.