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How Newsday's writers cast their Hall of Fame ballots
As 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Newsday's David Lennon, Mark Herrmann, Bob Herzog and Steven Marcus were eligible to vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2013. Here's how each one voted, with their explanation of why they voted the way they did.
Voted for: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling
Lennon’s comment: This isn’t the space for a debate over “the cream” and “the clear,” syringes in beer cans or back acne. I’m keeping the discussion to baseball, because ultimately that’s what we’re talking about when it comes to Cooperstown, and frankly the place wouldn’t be worth visiting without acknowledging the game’s greatest players, warts and all. Call me cynical, but I don’t subscribe to the hallowed “Field of Dreams” vision of demigods emerging from cornstalks. Bonds and Clemens are among the most public faces of a steroids-smeared era, but also its most exceptional talents — not purely chemically enhanced pop-up wonders such as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Still, without a drug-testing program in place back then as there is now, how does anyone know who did what and for how long? Where do we put the asterisks? And once you figure that out, I want to know everyone who gets them — or spare me the righteous indignation. By any statistical and awards-driven measure, these eight players are deserving of Hall of Fame recognition. Look it up.
Voted for: Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza
Herrmann’s comment: I am as skeptical as the next person of just about every baseball player in the performance- enhancing-drugs era, and just as disdainful as anyone of artificially inflated statistics. The unresolved question for me is about the burden of proof. Is it up to a player to say he never took steroids? Is it OK if he says he took them only once (wink, wink)? Sure, we all have heard the speculation about Mike Piazza, but the only real hard evidence about him is a record showing he was one of the handful of greatest-hitting catchers in history, over a fairly long period. Eventually, I probably will admit that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did enough in their pre-PED careers to merit induction. But not this year, not on a first ballot.
Voted for: Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Sammy Sosa
Herzog’s comment: I value the historical integrity of the game, so I always vote yes on steroid-tainted players with Hall of Fame credentials because all of their statistics, and the won-loss records of their teams, are official. That made this year’s ballot especially crowded — Bonds, Clemens and Sosa are appearing for the first time; McGwire and Palmeiro are holdovers — and quite difficult. Legit candidates who came up just short on my ballot: Bagwell, Morris, Murphy, Schilling, Trammell, Walker. I still can’t believe the lack of support for Raines (Rickey Henderson of the NL in his era) and Martinez (a much-feared DH).
Voted for: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Jack Morris
Marcus’ comment: The class of 2013 is all about Bonds and Clemens and a supposed referendum on the steroid era. Hall of Fame voting is subjective, but it should not be judgmental beyond the requisite statistical analysis of a given candidate. That means the voters cannot appoint themselves justices on matters already litigated beyond the baseball field. Bonds and Clemens were not found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, nor did either player admit to such use. And Major League Baseball did not put them on the disqualified list. Doubts remain, but it is beyond the voter’s scope to let beliefs supersede the need to vote on facts — an overwhelming statistical body of work for each — not suspicions.