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 8, 2014 by Roger Mooney
Updated Jan 8, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell.
I voted for those 10 former players on my 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot.
I would have voted for more, but the vote is capped at 10.
There was talk during the Baseball Writers’ Association of America meeting at last month’s winter meetings of setting that limit higher or doing away with it all together so voters can vote for as many players as they want.
That would have made my task easier this year.
I have voted for 10 players in each of the last four years (I became a voter in 2009) because I feel if you’re a hall of famer, you’re a hall of famer. And if you’re a hall of famer you deserve a vote from the first year you appear on the ballot until you are elected or your 15 years of eligibility expires or you do not receive enough votes to remain on the ballot the following year.
Since the BBWAA did not elect any one in 2013 and since the 10 I voted for remained on this year’s ballot and since I believe a number of players appearing for the first time are hall of famers, I had to make some cuts.
The way I see it, there are three slam-dunk first-ballot hall of famers in their first year of eligibility – Maddux, Glavine and Thomas. That means I had to not vote for three players whom I voted for last year.
Before I explain the rest of my ballot, let me say that voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is a privilege. It’s an honor that comes after being a member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years.
I give considerable thought to my ballot. I talk to writers who have covered the careers of these players and former players who have played with or against the candidates.
I’ve also talked to former players who played before and during the Steroid Era and asked their opinion on those linked to PEDs. I can tell you the support from the old guys is underwhelming.
I decided last year not vote for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, because I didn’t feel comfortable including them on my ballot. I have never voted for Mark McGwire, because I think he’s a borderline candidate at best.
This has sparked a considerable amount of debate among voters and non-voters. I listen to and respect both sides of the street on this one. Some day I might vote for Clemens and Bonds. Right now I don’t feel comfortable.
I voted again for Morris, who is his final year of eligibility, and Trammell, who is in his 13th, because I feel their resumes warrant a vote. I have talked to former players who either played with or against Morris and Trammell, and all agree those two are Cooperstown-worthy, erasing any doubts I might have had. But I didn’t have many with either, since I well-remember their playing days and always thought them to be among the best players of their generation.
I continue to vote for McGriff, because he was one of the top power-hitters of his generation until the Steroid Era raised the bar on what we might expect from a power-hitter. McGriff finished with 493 homers, seven shy of the once magical 500 plateau. You can argue that number of no longer magical. You can also argue the strike that cut short the 1994 season robbed McGriff of those seven homers.
I voted for Raines for the same reason I voted for Morris and Trammel.
Despite what some baseball fans think, the designated hitter is a part of baseball. It’s been around for 41 years. Martinez was the game’s first truly great DH. He deserves to be in the hall.
You can argue against Schilling’s record during the regular season – I won’t – but he was as big-game as anyone when it came to the postseason in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and in 2004 with the Red Sox. He actually signed with the Red Sox before the 2004 season to help Boston erase the curse and take down the Yankees, and they did. I feel that moves his needle to hall of famer.
With 3,060 career hits, Biggio was one of the top hitters of his generation. Hall of famer.
Now for the cuts. It was tough to leave Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith and Larry Walker off my ballot, but three had to leave and I deemed them to be the bottom three. I plan on voting for them again when space becomes available.
I also intend to vote for Mike Mussina and Mike Piazza.
Problem is, more players with slam-dunk credentials will be joining the ballot soon, players like John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Ken Griffey.
The BBWAA is going to look into increasing the number of players we can vote for each year. I hope that happens. It will make this honor, not easy, but easier.