The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
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Controversial picks abound on my mythical 2022 Hall of Fame ballot

I suppose it could be said every year of Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, “This year’s election should be really interesting.” Well, this year’s evidence is the fact that three controversial superstar players are in a “do or die” situation, because they are in the last of ten years of eligibility on the ballot. And two more controversial superstars are entering the balloting for the first time. How the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will treat them is sure to be interesting to watch. The results of the balloting for the 2022 class will be made known on January 25.


The five players I’m referring to are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling, who have been unsuccessful in nine tries so far; and Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, who are first-timers on the ballot. Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez, and Ortiz have all been linked to PED use, whether the suspicions are true or not. Schilling has drawn criticism the past couple of years for his views on social and political issues. If it weren’t for these real or perceived transgressions, they’d all be shoo-ins for the Hall.


Last year might have been the year for Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling to get over the minimum of 75% of the votes to be elected, since all of the new entrants on the ballot were borderline candidates for the Hall. But that didn’t happen. For the first time since 2013 the baseball writers didn’t elect any candidate. None of the three moved the needle much toward election. Schilling got close with 71.1% of the votes, while Bonds and Clemens continued to hover around 60%, as they have for the past few years.


Actually, it would be somewhat of shock to the baseball world if any of the five is elected this year. I don’t envision the nearly 400 voters will reconsider their position from previous years on Schilling, Bonds, and Clemens. And I think most of the voters will paint Rodriguez and Ortiz with the PED brush, at least in their first year.


In any case, if any of the BBWAA voters are looking for input, here’s my two-cents worth.


For a couple of years now, I have personally put the PED-era stigma behind me. I don’t have any reservations about voting for the best players in the game, regardless of how others might perceive them.


My carryovers from the 2021 class included Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Todd Helton, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Jeff Kent, Billy Wagner, and Andruw Jones. I had added Wagner and Jones for the first time last year to complete my mythical ballot with the allowed maximum of ten players.


Sheffield and Ramirez also have the PED stigma hanging over their heads. Ramirez tested positive for PEDs in 2009 and 2011. The 2007 Mitchell Report on PED use implicated Sheffield before an official MLB rule and penalties were implemented. Vizquel’s fine career has been tarnished in the last two years by off-the-field allegations involving domestic abuse and sexual harassment.


The newcomers are not without their issues, too. Rodriguez admitted to PED use and was suspended by MLB for the entire 2014 season. Ortiz was one of 104 players who tested positive for PED use in what was intended to be an anonymous testing process by MLB in 2003. However, Ortiz’s name and results were later leaked to the press.


A-Rod’s and Big Papi’s numbers speak for themselves. Without the specter of PEDs, they’d be sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famers. Along with Rodriguez and Ortiz, the upper echelon of this year’s class of new eligible players includes Jimmy Rollins and Mark Teixeira. I put them in the category of being in the Hall of “Very Good,” but not the Hall of Fame. Scott Rolen (in his fifth year on the ballot) has been getting a lot of ink lately from baseball analysts and commentators. He received 52.9% of the votes last year and will likely garner more this year. But he’s in that Hall of Very Good in my book.


So, my mythical ballot this year includes Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Helton, Sheffield, Ramirez, Vizquel, Jones, and newcomers Rodriguez and Ortiz. I dropped out Kent and Wagner who were on my ballot last year. I know I’m bucking the system, as eight of my ten picks have some kind of controversary surrounding them. But these are the best ten players on the ballot. Several of them are among the best players of all time. They need to be in the Hall of Fame with a bronze plaque, not in some secondary Hall exhibit mentioned as noteworthy players of their era.

2 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Charlie | December 27, 2021 at 08:14 AM EST

Not with you on this one. Let's level the playing field and pump PED's into all the players and see if your nominees are still \the best players in the game\.

2. Richard A Cuicchi | January 02, 2022 at 04:06 PM EST

So why didn't all the other guys who took PEDs (supposedly there were a lot of them) put up big numbers like Bonds, Rodriguez, etc.?

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