The 2013 Ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame was officially sent out to the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America; the organization who votes on the players enshrined into Cooperstown (and of course does not vote on those players who are not inducted).
Pitcher Jack Morris returns with the player having the most votes (66.7%) from last year who did not make the Hall (75% is needed). While the feeling that “not every Hall of Famer is the same does make sense to sports fan, I never understood how some players can be on the ballot for eight or ten years or more and then make it after all that time — did they add something to these credentials between years 6 and 14 that someone finally said, “YES, he is a Hall of Famer NOW!”? Some voters have that “well if he’s not in we can’t put him in either” mentally while others have the “he can’t go in before this player is elected” thought process; fair enough, there are egos involved and there are some good points to be made toward that. Perhaps just the change over and increase in the voting body over the years accounts for those. Personally I hope that Jack Morris makes the Hall of Fame this year.
Some of the interesting players on the ballot for the first time this year are pitcher Curt Schilling, catcher Mike Piazza and C/2B/CF Craig Biggio. I think all three of these players are deserving of the Hall of Fame and I think Piazza should and will be voted in on the first ballot. Schilling is probably in the same category as Jack Morris, not quite a no doubt Hall of Famer (while being closer to that label that Morris is) and a player that is going to be like Kirby Puckett was, solid regular season numbers and will rely in his post season performances to unlock the door to the Hall. Biggio should get in but it just make take a few years for him to get in since longevity is his main asset in his solid career that saw him start as a catcher, move to second base and then into the outfield all while being a solid offense player and reaching 3,060 hits.
THEN OF COURSE we come to those other guys on the ballot — Joining Mark McGwire (19.5% of the vote last year on the ballot for the 7th year) and Rafael Palmeiro (12.6% of the vote last year on the ballot for the 3rd year) are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. Early indications are that none of these players will ever be able to make their induction speech on the last Sunday in July because of their believed use of performance enchanting drugs. There names are already there, their records are already there, just as Pete Rose is still there as the All-Time leader in hits is there. Bonds was a seven time Most Valuable Player and Clemens a seven time Cy Young Award winner; those records and awards will be there forever. This is where the conversation gets interesting — Do any or all of these players deserve to have one more day to celebrate their careers and join the other Hall of Famers? Having baseball writers or any members of the media become morality police or a judge and jury is always a bad idea in general; these are the people who vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, there is a character clause mentioned on the ballot and some players won’t make it there because of that clause; there are other players that were not the best of people on and off the field and may not have made it in under the modern standards.
While baseball fans and teams probably knew this was going on after the 1994 strike that cancelled the World Series — it does not mean that what the players did was right then or should be forgotten now. I don’t know if given the chance to allow these players into the Hall of Fame while putting a notation on their plague would be enough, history has already done that. The question truly becomes do we best let history write the chapter of that era in baseball or do we allow the players that benefited financially from their wrong doing one more day in the spotlight? In a few decades when some of these players have health problems from what they did; will they then confess, will they then be allowed in the Hall?
This story still has many years to be written by many, many people.