My 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot

*Phone Rings*

Looking at the unknown number on the screen, I answering the phone cautiously.  “Hello?”

“Is this Tony Voda?  The author behind Plouffe’s New Hairdo?” the man on the other end asks.

“Umm, yes.  Why do you ask?” I reply amazed and still hesitant.

At this point the man delivers the most awesome phone call of my life.  “My name is (protected for privacy) with the BBWAA, you know the baseball writers…”

“Yes! I interrupt.  I know your organization.  You are the guys that vote on baseball awards and the Hall of Fame!”

“Exactly.  And that is why we are calling you.  We have some good news…”

I shake on the other end, not believing that this is true and hoping I know exactly what (name redacted) will say.

“… We would like to offer you a membership to the BBWAA for your excellence in writing.”


OK, so maybe that call didn’t happen… YET.  But if I did receive that call and had the privilege to join this very powerful and respectable (at most times) club, I have an idea of what my first piece of order would be…


Recently, the BBWAA released the list of eligible players for the Hall of Fame ballot.  I will not only include their link, but give a breakdown of how I got to my final ballot.

Quick recap of rules:

  1. Maximum of 10 players selected on your ballot.
  2. Voting standards are as follows:
    • Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
  3. Ballot must be returned by December 31.
  4. Players receiving 75% or more of the vote will be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Alright, with the rules out of the way, let’s play!

First Pass Through The List:

At first glance, I let my mind pick out the names that make most sense as being “Hall-worthy” in my head and write those down.  Not being a “final vote”, I am not bound by the rules above… yet.

The List In My Head:

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Craig Biggio
  3. Barry Bonds
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Tom Glavine
  6. Greg Maddux
  7. Edgar Martinez
  8. Fred McGriff
  9. Mark McGwire
  10. Mike Mussina
  11. Rafael Palmeiro
  12. Mike Piazza
  13. Sammy Sosa
  14. Frank Thomas
  15. Larry Walker

All of these guys, theoretically are Hall-worthy in my head.  but since I have 15 chosen for 10 spots, I must do a second sweep and narrow it down a bit.  Sorry guys.

The Final List:

Taking my top choices from above, I choose to use my full allotment of 10 choices to fill my ballot.  I will list the players in two buckets:

Welcome To The Hall:

  1. Craig Biggio
  2. Barry Bonds
  3. Roger Clemens
  4. Tom Glavine
  5. Greg Maddux
  6. Mark McGwire
  7. Rafael Palmeiro
  8. Mike Piazza
  9. Sammy Sosa
  10. Frank Thomas

Next Year, Guys:

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Edgar Martinez
  3. Fred McGriff
  4. Mike Mussina
  5. Larry Walker

The reasoning:

We all have our own way of handling those who cheated while playing the game.  Some want to clear the record books and white wash the history as much as possible, while others just flat out own it.  I fall in the latter…

BUT, I also want to make it well known for anyone who visits the Hall of Fame to know what good things, great players, AND tainted memories are included in this era of baseball.  We celebrate other felonious men in the Hall – people who are racist, bigots, cheaters (in other regards), and other nasty men – so what makes the ‘Roid-Ragers worse than the other questionable men before them?  Baseball has the ugly and highly visible scar of segregation until 1947, surely this is worse than steroids?  Many of the men in the Hall from that era and prior were well documented racists, doing much more damage to the game than someone injecting themselves with deadly serum (yes, they potentially heal faster or are stronger in the short term, but it destroys the body in the long term).

It is with these reasons – and a few others that I did not share in order to hold some of the interest – that I included the “bad guys.”  I don’t want the ballot getting clogged up to the point where I have 15 guys that are otherwise Hall-worthy, especially coming off a year where NO ONE was voted in.

By the way, here are some magic numbers that made me pick who I did:

  • Biggio – 3,000+ Hits
  • Bonds – 700+ HRs
  • Clemens – 350+ Wins, 4,600+ Ks
  • Glavine – 300+ Wins
  • Maddux – 350+ Wins, 3,300+ Ks, 18 Gold Gloves
  • McGwire – 580+ HRs
  • Palmeiro – 3,000+ Hits, 560+ HRs
  • Piazza – .300+ Avg., 420+ HRs
  • Sosa – 600+ HRs
  • Thomas – 520+ HRs, 1,700+ RBIs

And here is why I left the other 5 on the outside:

  • Bagwell – I had to leave one of the 1B out.  Nearly 450 HRs, while impressive, were not as much as Thomas or Palmeiro.
  • Martinez – He was the first to define DH, hit for decent power, with an incredible average, but ultimately Frank Thomas had my vote for DH.  If Edgar would have not been hurt a couple years and started before 27, he’d be a shoe-in for the 3,000 hit club – an instant pass.
  • Fred McGriff – Oh so close to the 500 HR club (493 in total).  Fred, in my mind, was clean, just having a beautiful swing with natural power.  Plus, he had one of the coolest nicknames, “Crime Dog.”  Just a case of too many people on the ballot.  Once Thomas and/or Palmeiro get in, then I can crown Fred.
  • Mussina – Having only one losing season (his rookie year at 4-5), Mussina was a great example of dependability.  While certainly an ace on most teams, he would go into the Hall being a great #2 pitcher – eats innings, strikes out his fair share, but not overly dominant, with a respectable ERA, and always double digits wins.  Sorry, Mike, but you had Clemens, Glavine, and Maddux on your ballot.
  • Walker – Don’t try to give me the “Coors Field” argument.  Players are signed throughout history to favorable conditions – pitchers pitching in “pitchers parks” and hitters hitting in “hitters parks” is common, if not genius on both the team’s and player’s ends.  Larry had a .313/.400/.565 slash-line with 383 HRs, 1,311 RBIs, 2,160 hits, AND 913 walks.  He could lead the league in average, give you some dependable pop (extra-base hits leader), and just flat out reach base.  Again, just another victim of the stacked ballot.

Let it be known:

“First-ballot Hall-of-Famer” is not a term I enjoy.  Either the man is a Hall-of-Famer or he isn’t.  Reaching with 75.00% or 99.99%, reaching on your 1st or 15th try, it just doesn’t matter.  In fact, if someone is Hall-worthy, get them in as soon as possible so they can enjoy it.  Bert Blyleven had to wait FOREVER.  Just imagine if for some terrible reason a person like Kirby Puckett was on the fence for more than his 1st year… peopel get old and sometimes we lose them too soon.

If you have a problem with letting this many guys in, then you are missing the point.  They are not fringe guys that should not be in, but players that are in the top-20 (if not 10, 5, or career leaders) of ALL-TIME!  We had a golden age of baseball – one that was tainted, but no less golden.  We as fans, with support from the MLB (Selig, MLBPA, etc.) enjoyed the thrill ride of HR chases, coming off of the crushing embarrassment that was the 1994 “Lost Season”.  The players actions were never questioned, only encouraged; this does not make it right, but it also should be written in history for future generations to learn from, not just white-washed.

Now that we have anti-steroid rules (which are still too loose in my mind), we can actually hold players accountable… if we so choose; but don’t punish the same people that we hailed as heroes for the actions that made them kings in the first place.  The simple “ex post facto law” seems to be needed more now than ever in baseball.  Let’s own up to the mess, describe it for what it was (much like the pre-integration era) and move forward.  We have a great game, one that isn’t perfect, but because of that, it is perfect… to us.


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