Ten years have passed since I first held a Hall of Fame ballot in my hands, and it still ranks as one of the more awe-inspiring moments of my life. To realize that you have a say in who will be immortalized in Cooperstown -- and also who won't -- is a huge responsibility.
While it is fashionable in some circles to bash those of us who have been in the Baseball Writers' Association of America for at least 10 years and are eligible to vote, I have never met a colleague who didn't take the responsibility of voting for the Hall very seriously. People may not agree with the members' votes, but you can be sure that there is plenty of time and energy put into making the decisions.
Like other members, I have done my due diligence in researching each candidate, especially those who fall somewhere in the gray area between being an automatic selection and having no chance. However, there has been a major change in the process of reviewing a candidate's career since I first began voting in 1997. It now goes beyond studying a player's statistics and accomplishments. Today a voter must also be part of the morality police and attempt to determine which players cheated by using performance-enhancing drugs and which ones stayed clean. And assuming you don't categorically rule out cheaters, you also must determine which players -- we're talking
Voters are divided on whether Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame. The
Others, such as the
"I won't vote for cheaters," McCoy says. "I said that about Mark McGwire and
I was of the same mind as McCoy last year; my final decision was to automatically disqualify anyone with a steroid cloud. Thus I did not vote for McGwire. However, a year has passed, with more PED speculation and more admissions, all of which has given me a different perspective on the issue. In fact I had an epiphany in the hours leading up to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park as I stood in the concourse outside the visitors' clubhouse and strained to listen as Cleveland Indians pitcher
It may not be the most logical way to look at the issue and it certainly isn't fair. However, I cannot think of a better prism through which to view the players of the past two decades. In regard to Clemens in particular, I can only go by the numbers, and Clemens has 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, and a most impressive 3.12 ERA during a career in which the league average has been 4.38. To me, those numbers clearly say Hall of Fame.