Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Yes, I know. My Hall of Fame ballot is wrong.
Heck, the only person on the planet who thinks it's right is the one typing this. And even I acknowledge there are some things I could've changed. More on that in a moment.
My ballot's first imperfection, at least according to some, stems from the fact that I'm a Big Hall guy. I've voted for 10 players -- the maximum allowed -- every year since 2013. Some believe there should be fewer players elected; I say, "What fun is that?"
I voted 10 again this year when I checked off these 10 names: Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Vladimir Guerrero. Trevor Hoffman. Chipper Jones. Jeff Kent. Edgar Martinez. Mike Mussina. Curt Schilling. Jim Thome.
Believe me, there are plenty more on this ballot that I could've voted for, had there been space on the ballot. The fact that I had to leave off Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, and Omar Vizquel makes me wish the Hall of Fame would eliminate the Rule of 10 and let the 420 or so voters pick as many as they want.
I will strongly consider them all, once again, when the clogged ballot hopefully thins after what could be a big Class of 2018. They need to get 5 percent of votes to stay on the ballot, which brings me to another potential imperfection.
However uncomfortable it makes me, there's some ballot strategy here. I voted for Kent, one of the greatest offensive second basemen in history, in part because he sat at 16.7 percent last year. He deserves to be considered longer, but I debated taking my vote from him and using it elsewhere. Maybe Wagner needed it more to stick around and get the in-depth look he deserves.
Also, I moved Hoffman up on my ballot after not voting for him until now. I did it in part because I think he's gaining enough momentum to get in this year, alongside Chipper Jones, Thome and Guerrero.
Getting Hoffman off the ballot might help a player such as Edgar Martinez, who should be a Hall of Famer, get more voter love. Martinez, he of the .312/.418/.515 career slash line, got 58.6 percent last year.
Some don't believe Martinez should be in the Hall because he was mostly a designated hitter during his career and was no Rolen defensively when he did play third base. But let's be real -- had there been no DH, a team would've found a place to put him (see above slash line). And I can still remember how he drove the Yankees nuts when I covered the team for the Daily News back in the early 2000s.
The game has evolved a great deal and there's much more specialization. DHs are part of the game, so are closers. That's another reason why I found it reasonable to vote Hoffman this year and why Wagner stands out as a potential future vote. And why I wonder if I should regret not voting Lee Smith.
A few words on some of the others I voted for before we get to our last imperfection. Mussina, the AL East Beast, authored a marvelous, consistent career in the cauldron of an offense-heavy era in the scariest division possible. Schilling was remarkable during both summer and fall.
Guerrero was a monster player who did eye-popping things from every corner of the field.
Chipper Jones? Let's spare Mets fans a recitation of his career beyond saying he's clearly one of the best third basemen of all-time. Jim Thome, with 612 homers and a .402 on-base percentage, was an easy choice.
Bonds and Clemens? Ah, twin voting flashpoints. I initially did not vote for them, but started doing so in 2016. Yes, there is a PED cloud over each. But they have more MVP trophies and more Cy Young Awards than anyone.
They might be the ideal representatives of the Steroid Era for the Hall of Fame, which is, after all, a museum. Don't confuse it with a holy site. There are plenty of scoundrels already there.
You don't get a halo when you're elected. You get a plaque. If the Hall wants to put their transgressions on the plaques of Bonds and Clemens, feel free. If either player gets in and current Hall of Famers are so outraged that they don't want to attend the July induction, skip it for a beach weekend instead and tell everyone why.
But Bonds and Clemens were hugely significant players. They need to be recognized in a meaningful way, not some sideshow exhibit, like some suggest. The best way is to put them in the museum.
Maybe I'm wrong. But that's OK -- it's hard to find perfection on a ballot that has so many shades of gray.