Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens not expected to make Hall of Fame on first try
Related mediaRemaining MLB free agents MLB's key dates this offseason Hall of Fame debates Baseball blog: On-Base Perception MLB Hall of Fame 2013: Who is worthy? MLB's all-time no-hitters and perfect games
This ballot is one of the most controversial in history. Headlined by seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, the field is part of a continuing referendum not on the gaudy numbers of some of the game's greatest players, but on the steroid era in which they played.
Bonds and Clemens, both on the ballot for the first time, are not expected to receive the necessary 75 percent of the vote from the eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America because they have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Slugger Sammy Sosa, another first-timer, also is likely to be snubbed because of his association with steroids. Voters have not been kind to steroid-tainted sluggers Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, who are still on the ballot but never have not gotten close to enshrinement.
If early, unscientific polls of Hall of Fame voters published recently are any guide, former Met Mike Piazza represents a sticky situation for the more than 600 current and retired writers expected to cast ballots. A first-timer on the ballot, Piazza was one of the best-hitting catchers ever; his 396 home runs when in the lineup as a catcher are a record.
But some voters already have stated publicly that they will not vote for Piazza because of his association with the steroid era. He has never been directly linked to PEDs, was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report, and is not known to have ever failed a drug test. But a cloud of suspicion could keep him out.
Other notable first-timers include Smithtown native Craig Biggio, who had 3,060 hits in a 20-year career with the Astros. If not elected, Biggio -- who starred as a catcher, second baseman and outfielder -- would be the only eligible player with at least 3,000 hits (other than Palmeiro) not to make the Hall.
Curt Schilling, a standout pitcher for three world champions (2001 Diamondbacks, 2004 and 2007 Red Sox) is also in his first year of eligibility. He won 216 games in a 20-year career with five teams.
It may turn out that the sole player elected this year is Jack Morris, who fell 48 votes short in 2012. Morris went 254-186 for four teams, mostly with Detroit, and pitched one of the greatest games in postseason history when he threw 10 shutout innings for the Twins in a 1-0 win over the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Morris was named the World Series MVP.
Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was the only player elected by the BBWAA last year. Morris was second, ahead of former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56 percent) and closer Lee Smith (50.6 percent). Both are still on the ballot. Other holdovers include Yankees stars Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams. There are 37 players on the ballot, including 24 first-timers.
Baseball's Pre-Integration Era Committee already posthumously inducted Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, 19th-century player Deacon White and umpire Hank O'Day.
First-timers on the 2014 ballot will include Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Mike Mussina.