Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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My hall of fame ballot
Posted Jan 5, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Jan 5, 2011 at 03:17 PM
BY ROGER MOONEY
One of the hardest things I do each year is vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Some players I believe are no-brainers, like Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, the two elected this year by the Baseball Writers Association of American.
I feel strongly about others, such as Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Lee Smith and Barry Larkin.
Others I tend to go back-and-forth on before casting my vote.
Having a role in whether a player was good or an immortal is a daunting task, especially when steroids have brought the accomplishments of many into question.
I didn’t vote for Mark McGwire, not so much because of his steroid use, but because I don’t think he had a Hall of Fame career.
The instructions that come with the ballot ask votes to consider “playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship and character.”
Some players on the ballot have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs; others to cocaine.
Where do you draw the line?
Rafael Palmeiro hit 569 home runs and failed a drug test, which he denies to this day.
Alomar once spit in the face of the home plate umpire.
Each voter can vote for up to 10 players, and I maxed out for the second-straight year. I feel in a player is a hall of famer he should get a vote as soon as he lands on the ballot.
Here are the 10 I voted for this year:
Barry Larkin A 12-time All-star, three Gold Gloves, nine Silver Slugger Awards, the first shortstop to join the 30-30 club, hit .300 or better nine times. Lou Piniella thinks Larkin is a Hall of Famer, and from having covered Piniella during his three seasons as manager of the Devil Rays, I know he is pretty honest when it comes to his opinion on a player. If Piniella thinks Larkin is a hall of famer, well that’s good enough for me.
Edgar Martinez Made his career as a designated hitter, which to some is a part-time player. That’s not how I think. The DH has been around in the American League since 1973. It’s a vital part of a team’s batting order. Good ones are not easy to find. Just ask the Rays. Martinez is considered the best DH in history. I think the best DH in history should be in the hall of fame.
Fred McGriff McGriff finished with 493 career home runs. There was a time when that total was a lock for Cooperstown. Not anymore. He’s being punished for being clean during the Steroid Era.
How easy would it have been for McGriff to take performance-enhancers during the final years of his career to get that 500th home run?
Plus, he has some pretty impressive numbers: 12 seasons with 90 RBI, eight seasons with 100 RBI (tied for fourth all-time among first basemen) 10 seasons with at least 30 home runs (tied with Lou Gehrig for fourth all-time among first basemen) and 15 seasons with 20 or more home runs, 14 times as a first baseman, most all-time. He also played the third-most games by a first baseman in baseball history.
Jack Morris The guy had 254 career wins. I know his .390 ERA would be the highest in the hall, but 254 wins! He 11 seasons with 200 or more innings and 200 or more strikeouts. He was a regular on Opening Day. He pitched Game 1 of the World Series three times. Remember Game 7 of the 1991 World Series? It was a hall of fame performance by a hall of fame pitcher.
Dale Murphy The last name I checked on my ballot. Might be the last time I vote for him, too. We’ll see. A two-time MVP, seven-time All-Star, Murphy was among the top players in the game during a significant part of his career.
Tim Raines Integrity and character come into play here. He used cocaine. He admitted to playing with a vile of coke in his back pocket. What’s the difference between using coke and using steroids? I don’t know. But I voted for Raines.
Lee Smith I value the role of a good closer just as I do the DH. When he retired after the 1997 season, Smith was baseball’s all-time saves leader with 478.
Alan Trammell I left Trammell off my ballot last year and regretted the move. Played 20 years with the Tigers and was considered among the top shortstops in the game for many of those years. Pretty good offensive numbers: seven seasons with a .300 batting average. A six-time All-Star. Four Gold Gloves.
As usual, even I question my own votes.
Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker deserve and will receive a closer look next year.
Here is the breakdown of votes received:
Roberto Alomar 523 (90.0%), Bert Blyleven 463 (79.7%), Barry Larkin 361 (62.1%), Jack Morris 311 (53.5%), Lee Smith 263 (45.3%), Jeff Bagwell 242 (41.7%), Tim Raines 218 (37.5%), Edgar Martinez 191 (32.9%), Alan Trammell 141 (24.3%), Larry Walker 118 (20.3%), Mark McGwire 115 (19.8%), Fred McGriff 104 (17.9%), Dave Parker 89 (15.3%), Don Mattingly 79 (13.6%), Dale Murphy 73 (12.6%), Rafael Palmeiro 64 (11.0%), Juan Gonzalez 30 (5.2%), Harold Baines 28 (4.8%), John Franco 27 (4.6%), Kevin Brown 12 (2.1%), Tino Martinez 6 (1.0%), Marquis Grissom 4 (0.7%), Al Leiter 4 (0.7%), John Olerud 4 (0.7%), B.J. Surhoff 2 (0.3%), Bret Boone 1 (0.2%), Benito Santiago 1 (0.2%), Carlos Baerga 0, Lenny Harris 0, Bobby Higginson 0, Charles Johnson 0, Raul Mondesi 0, Kirk Rueter 0.