Here is what my ballot would like if the Hall of Fame was kind enough to lend me a vote:
*Bold = Predicted Induction
1. Ken Griffey Jr.
The Kid will be a Hall of Famer by tomorrow. If there's one thing that can be assured, it's that. The more interesting question is whether he will obtain 100% of the vote. The Hall of Fame did knock out about 150 voters in a new rule that states the writers can only be eligible to vote if they covered the game within the previous decade. This most likely eliminated many of the pompous purist voters who have been stuck in the past. The most popular Hall of Fame inductee since Cal Ripken Jr. in 2007 should have a chance at the highest voting percentage ever recorded, but there's always "that guy" that finds a way to rain on the parade. Nobody revolutionized pop culture inside and outside of baseball like Griffey, and let's not forget how incredible of a talent he was. Just imagine what he would have done without his injury history.
2. Barry Bonds
3. Roger Clemens
If you've read my blog in the past, you know that I am among the growing voting population who believes that PED users should be recognized in the Hall. I don't condone use of steroids or any form of Performance Enhancing Drugs. I don't like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens very much, and you can use the honor system against my case if you would like (I completely understand the opposing viewpoint). Major League Baseball turned their backs on the steroid debacle in the late 1990's and early 2000's to make money off of their famed sluggers. It helped them reestablish their value among the sports industry after an embarrassing strike cut short what would have been a memorable season in 1994. Eventually, they had no choice but to put an end to the fiasco; incriminating the players they applauded for the sake of the law.
There are too many different stories and controversies involving the Steroid Era that will never be told. Players may be inducted who have cheated but were never caught. The truth will most likely not be revealed any time in the near future, and I honestly feel like this museum should incorporate all of its history: the good and the bad. I can understand Pete Rose being held out for breaking the cardinal sin of baseball and not quite seeming to have ever understood what he did wrong. But I'm not on board with the wishy-washy decision making and denouncing of players who simply did what everyone else was doing.
Look at it from this perspective: if someone is running a daycare, and one child begins to misbehave; most of the others will more than likely join in the fun. If the person in charge of keeping the children in line doesn't make a valiant effort to try and stop it, the blame should be placed on them. It is their responsibility to control the situation. Baseball players are adults, but many have been raised differently than the average person. Before you take your next jab at players from this generation for cheating the game, just remember that they weren't enforced against it, and they weren't kept in line until drug testing was rampant throughout the sport.
So, can Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens make the Hall of Fame? Without question. Will they? Eventually, yes, but not for some time.
4. Mike Piazza
5. Jeff Bagwell
These two will forever be paired in infamy for being held out of the Hall of Fame based on suspicion alone. Bagwell was one of the most consistent all around hitters of the Steroid Era, while Piazza may just be the greatest offensive catcher there ever was. I do believe Piazza will get his due this year and barely make it in, while Bagwell remains on the brink for another year. Lest we forget, innocent until proven guilty. I don't see why either of these guys should have to wait any longer; cheaters or not.
6. Tim Raines
Supposedly, Rock Raines is off to a hot start with this year's election. He will be off the ballot after next year, and is the first borderline Hall of Famer whose totals will be affected by the Hall's eligibility year decrease from 15 years to 10. He may have overstayed his welcome a bit too long, but he was productive for a very long time. He's been held out because he isn't Rickey Henderson, if we're being honest. Even Rickey would see past his own reflection and realize how unfair that is.
I hope he makes it, but I suspect that he will fall just short and will look to make a final stand next year. Bert Blyleven made it in his second to last attempt, proving that a voter's opinion can (and should) change about given players over time. The common mantra "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" applies here. We may never see a leadoff hitter as explosive as Henderson or Raines. That is all the qualification a player needs to be inducted, to me.
7. Curt Schilling
8. Mike Mussina
Two pitchers who faced off against the largest players in recorded history their entire careers should be viewed as underdogs. In fact, most of them are. But players like Schilling and Mussina were able to overpower dominant hitters with dominant stuff for a lengthy period of time. Mussina notably pitched his entire career in the AL East, what was probably the most competitive division of that time. The Hall of Fame shouldn't judge a player by what would have happened if. These two pitchers were able to put up numbers comparable to many already enshrined during such a difficult period to pitch. I fully support both of their campaigns, though I'd much rather root for Moose over the often controversial Schilling.
9. Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman is to Mariano Rivera what Raines is to Rickey Henderson. Considering several other comparable closers are already enshrined, it should make sense to induct him as well. Give me one more year to decide on Billy Wagner though. I don't think Hoffman will make it this year but he should relatively early in his balloting years. The save statistic may be outdated in today's game, but 601 saves is quite the feat.
I only decided to place 9 players on my ballot this year, but could've chosen from either Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, or Fred McGriff for the 10th spot. My expectation is to see Griffey and Piazza make it, but I wouldn't be surprised if Raines and/or Bagwell do too. Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing what results.
Who is on your hypothetical ballot for this year, and how do you feel about PED's in the Hall of Fame? Leave your thoughts and comments below!