This year, I've decided to up the stakes and have people vote on the 25 best players not enshrined. I want people agonizing over tough decisions: Jim Edmonds or Dwight Evans; Trevor Hoffman or Lee Smith; Jeff Bagwell or Fred McGriff, though I invite people to vote any way and for whoever they'd like...
A player need not have played 10 seasons or even in the majors to be eligible ...
All votes are due by Dec. 28 at 6 p.m.ET. Results will be unveiled Jan. 4 ...
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
by Graham Womack
Before you rush to vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens consider the actual criteria.
Many people seem to consider only playing ability. At least half of the actual Hall of Fame criteria is composed of character: integrity, sportsmanship, character. Plus, contributions to team, which could also include character. Stats are mentioned as two criteria.
So, even aside from whether some recently eligible players used performance enhancing drugs (PED), what about the deception they would have committed if they had used?
And what about the consciousness of guilt displayed by some who seem to be innocent bystanders, including Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell? Stories have been written about how they might have used PED. Most of us tend to view that as unfair, since we don't have hard evidence, such as a failed drug test or grand jury indictment. Degree of guilt does not need to be beyond a reasonable doubt. It does not even have to be the preponderance of evidence. This is the baseball court of public opinion.
Have any of the main players in the PED melodrama admitted using? The only one I can think of is Mark McGwire and since he admitted a few years ago his percent of the Hall of Fame vote has decreased.
Have any of those marginally associated denied using? Has Piazza? Has Bagwell? Would an innocent person at some time in all these years have done so? Unless that person does not want to invite more scrutiny or risk having people with knowledge come forward.
And what about those who played with and against PED users? Didn't they know? And if they did, what is their responsibility? Should they have come forward? Should they speak up now? Suppose someone they know used is about to be voted into the Hall? Should someone speak out?
Should the Military Academy type policy of the first commissioner be applied? Players will not lie, steal, cheat or tolerate those who do. Any player who knows of wrongdoing and does not promptly report it shall be as guilty as those who commit the wrongdoing. That's about it, right? And it worked, too. Back then players were afraid of a lifetime ban if they did not report other players.
Today there is a players union, which may make that policy difficult if not impossible to implement. But the Hall of Fame is not controlled by the players union. Official voters are not controlled by the players union and certainly we UNofficial voters in this informal survey are not controlled by the players union.
So will UNofficial voters behave differently? I doubt it. We talk big and hold the writers in contempt for their obvious hypocrisy but they are just exhibiting our shared human frailties. If the writers and fans switched positions we'd wind up with pretty much the same results.
Except here we fans have a chance to be radical. The question is: will we?