One voter's Hall of Fame ballot
Hall of Fame pitcher Walter “The Big Train” Johnson was born in Humboldt, roughly 90 miles south of Lawrence and that’s about as close as the Kansas University baseball program has come to Cooperstown.
One day, a KU baseball player will get drafted, work his way swiftly through the minor leagues, develop into a perennial All-Star and thousands of Kansans will sit on the lawn in Cooperstown and take in his induction ceremony.
That day could be a long way off, so for now we’ll look at the candidates to gain induction today at 1 p.m. Below is my ballot, No. 608. But first consider how I weigh steroids.
It strikes me as silly to ignore that Barry Bonds was a Hall of Fame ballplayer before his muscles swelled to the size of his ego. He had Hall of Fame written all over him before he started to break rules that weren’t enforced when he was breaking him. The rules were in the books starting in 1991, but testing didn’t take root until 2003. Bonds gets my vote every year.
It strikes me as equally silly to ignore that Sammy Sosa didn’t perform like a Hall of Famer before and after he looked like a body builder. When he looked like a baseball player he was a good one, but not a great one. Sosa never will get my vote.
Keeping a cheater out of Cooperstown, even if he was worthy of induction before cheating isn’t fair to a ballplayer who was doing what more than half of his competitors did. Allowing a cheater into Cooperstown, even though he wouldn’t have reached there without cheating, isn’t fair to the guys who got there based on credentials, not chemistry.
How do I know who cheated? I don’t, in most cases, so I guess, based on off-the-record conversations I had with players, managers, coaches, front-office officials whose opinions I trusted. A Hall of Fame election is a court of public opinion, not a court of law, so “proof” of ballplayers using performance enhancing drugs is not the issue.
I vote with my conscience at the moment I’m voting, same as any election in which I participate.
I voted for the maxium 10 this year. Five players — Bonds, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza — required no thought. John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, Mark McGwire, Don Mattingly and Craig Biggio, in that order, rounded out my ballot, which didn’t quite have room for Tim Raines.
My guess as to which players will gain the required 75 percent of the votes to gain induction, from highest to lowest: Big Unit, Pedro, Smoltz and Biggio. Piazza inches closer but falls just short.