There were sixteen times during their films together that Oliver Hardy said to Stan Laurel, "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." That seems doubly fitting when considering this year's Hall of Fame ballot. Due to either total ineptitude or moral high horse-ism of the BBWAA, deserving candidates from the past several years are now lumped together with several newcomers and I count at least sixteen names on the ballot that should be no-doubt Hall of Fame members. And it is fairly easy to predict that only a few will be elected at most this year.
There are several obstacles this year's vote will face. First, half will vote for those either verified as PED users or rumored as such. Combine that with the artificial limit of only ten names on each ballot and half will be voting for people that the other half have stiffened their jaw against. This leaves only five other slots on the ballot they can vote for. So five other so-called "clean" players will not get in either. Add this to the blind part of the BBWAA vote that does not even cover or watch baseball and you have a mess.
Oh, and there is one other nasty bit of business. Many of those that are Hall of Fame deserving players are on the ballot for the first time and there is a large chunk of writers that do not like putting non-gods through on the first round. Oy.
And it will only get worse in the coming years as even more superstars of the sport are introduced to the ballot.
Here is my list of the sixteen definite Hall of Fame players on the ballot by rank:
- Barry Bonds - I don't care if you hate him or not. And I do not care if there is an asterisk by his home run totals. If he had been through playing after 2000 season, he was already a Hall of Fame player. He won three MVP Awards before all the questions came into being. What is a Hall of Fame without one of the best players of all time?
- Roger Clemens - Say what you will. The man was acquitted. As far as we know, he never failed a test. JAWS has him as the third best starting pitcher of all time. He blows away every Hall of Fame standard known to mankind. Again, what is a Hall of Fame without the third best pitcher of all time?
- Greg Maddux - He might be one of the few who gets in. According to JAWS, he is the tenth best pitcher of all time. And there has been no hint of any controversy about him. He won four straight Cy Young Awards and from 1992 to 1998, his peak was breathtaking.
- Mike Mussina - Most people have no idea how insanely good Mike Mussina was during his career. His best years in Baltimore were largely ignored due to his team and in his Yankee years, people remember his awful year and his masterful and iconic last season, his first as a 20-game winner. Mussina according to JAWS is the 28th best pitcher in baseball history.
- Curt Schilling - Gosh, I hate this guy. But he was a Hall of Fame pitcher. In fact, JAWS has him higher than Mussina. And you can never forget his 11-2, 2.23 in the post season either. Schilling put up the numbers to be here this high on my list.
- Mike Piazza - According to JAWS, Mike Piazza is the fifth best catcher in baseball history. Fifth. How can you not vote a guy like that in the Hall? He is the best offensive catcher ever. And he was not quite as bad defensively as people think. And when you think of his offensive numbers, consider that he never, EVER, played in a good park for hitters as his home park.
- Jeff Bagwell - The sixth best first baseman ever? Yeah, I'll take me some of that. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he is a Hall of Fame player.
- Frank Thomas - The champion of the "clean" player. Yeah, whatever. Just give me numbers and Frank Thomas did just that. Forget that he was a DH for a long time. If you judge him just as a first baseman, he is the ninth best of all time. Slam dunk.
- Tom Glavine - Did he benefit of an era with a lousy strike zone? Sure. But he was smart enough to use it and won 305 games. He was good in the post season and won two Cy Young Awards. The 30th best pitcher ever works for me. A definite Hall of Fame guy.
- Larry Walker - The tenth best right fielder ever. If you finish in the top 15 as a position player after 150 years of baseball, then what can you argue about? Playing in Colorado? Give me a break.
- Rafael Palmeiro - The poster boy for the PED moralists. His numbers are insane. "He was never the best," the saying goes. But there is something to be said for metronome production year after year after year. The eleventh best first baseman ever.
- Alan Trammell - His low voting percentage year after year on the ballot is a crime. The eighth best shortstop ever deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
- Tim Raines - What is it that keeps him out? The coke thing? He was Ricky Henderson light and the second best lead-off batter in his time. Without the gaudy batting average, he was every bit the offensive player as Tony Gwynn.
- Edgar Martinez - Let's face it, the DH is a position and he was the best at that position. His offensive numbers are unbelievable. And he was the one guy who could hit Mariano Rivera. But even if you rate his numbers as a third baseman, he comes in as the eleventh best at that position in value all time.
- Craig Biggio - Suffers a bit from moving around so much on the field. But he was a terrific lead off batter with over 1,800 runs scored in his career. The numbers are there. He was a HOF player.
- Mark McGwire - He gets marginalized by the others on this list, but he is my last entry as a player on the ballot who should be in the Hall of Fame.
Definite Yes votes for me on the expansion vote (they change the name every year): Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Marvin Miller, George Steinbrenner and Ted Simmons. On the fence, Tommy John.
As you can see, there are just too many candidates and there is no way you can get them all in with the voting the way it is. What a shame the mess this has all turned out to be. To quote one variation of Oliver Hardy's famous line, "Well, here's another nice kettle of fish you've pickled me in."