Archive for Friday, January 13, 2006

Next year, hall voting will be tricky

January 13, 2006

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— Now I am one.

One of those "old" baseball writers (former) that years ago all of us young turks and many others used to hoot at over a cold one.

But about this time of year, I always revert back to those days of being young and extremely wise.

Ball game over, story filed and we'd make the short hop from the Arlington ballyard to that narrow two-lane strip of road known as Collins.

And on Collins, just beyond the old turnpike, we'd solve all of baseball's problems at such esteemed establishments as long-gone Hank's on the Hill or Ol' Blues.

If Hank's, or Ol' Blues, were still standing today, I figure there would be a sign on the wall, saying "These Hall of Famers Once Drank Beer Here," followed by a long list of distinguished names.

Bert Blyleven should be on that list. He pitched for the Rangers in the 1970s, and had a postgame beer or two at Hank's and Ol' Blues.

But with this week's announcement of the 2006 Cooperstown class, Blyleven came up short again in the balloting by the Baseball Writers Assn.

That's wrong. Although not any more wrong than Bruce Sutter being the only player elected, and Goose Gossage (who pitched here in 1991) being left out again.

I love the baseball Hall of Fame arguments and love being part of the process. This is the 25th year I've voted, and by my count, I've never been wrong yet.

OK, that's just me.

But my votes this time went for Sutter, Gossage, Blyleven and Davey Concepcion, the latter being my protest vote that the great middle infielders without the power numbers are ignored by our BBWA members.

And, yes, if you're getting ready to ask, I do feel rather guilty about leaving off this time names like Jim Rice and Andre Dawson, particularly Dawson.

But that's the fun part of the process. You can debate this stuff forever.

Unfortunately, however, this was the last year for the arguments and the disagreements to center basically upon nothing other than statistics and opinions.

Next December, the 2007 Hall of Fame ballot will arrive in the mail.

The name of Cal Ripken Jr. will be on there. And Tony Gwynn.

No problem there, at least that I know of.

But as the alphabetical ballot unfolds, there will be Mark McGwire.

In fact, there will even be Jose Canseco on this next ballot. And Ken Caminiti, too.

The Boys of 'Roid will begin knocking on Cooperstown's door.

Now comes a problem. A big problem.

And from now on, that problem will continue to surface on a yearly basis.

Outside of Canseco's confession, and also Caminiti's, we've got no proof on anyone else who will appear on the 2007 ballot. But those two aren't a Hall of Fame concern anyway. What, however, do you do about McGwire? And down the road, Bonds, Sosa, Raffy, etc.?

Sports writers who participate in any voting process should never judge a candidate on moral character. But the steroids era? How exactly do you handle that? My immediate from-the-hip answer is you don't vote for any tainted name.

And that starts with McGwire in December.

But there I go, being judge and jury, the same guy who dreads receiving the Tarrant County jury summons every two years.

What's the answer? I don't know.

Thankfully, I've got 11 months to struggle with it.

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