The HOF Ballot
“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.”
Those are the instructions on the HOF ballots that will issue today. Bonds and Clemens lead the list of first-time players on the eligible list. Sosa and Piazza are among other suspected roiders joining the ballot.
Writers with ten-year tenures in the BBWAA can vote, including all of those who failed to publicize the steroid era back–from, say, 1989 to 2003–when they had the chance. I know many factors contributed to keep the writers quiet. Some who post on this blog probably understand those pressures and exigencies quite well, because they know a lot more about the realities of journalism than I do. But I see a clear conflict of interest here.
During the steroid era, both the players and the franchises grew enormously. Steroids healed the injuries of the 1994 strike. Steroids changed the game. The instructions to the voters should not ignore those overriding facts. Using the “integrity” term in the instructions to black-ball worthy players, thus shutting out the heroes of an entire generation of baseball fans, will do nothing but undermine the integrity of the Hall. Yet the BBWAA approaches the vote as if it’s just another year.
One stat note. Here, I believe, are the numbers, per decade, of players who hit more than 40 HRs in a season: 60s, 34; 70s, 20; 80s, 13; 90s, 71. The writers knew what was going on.