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Álex Rodríguez, David Ortiz Join Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot; Last Year for Bonds, Clemens

Two marquee names join this year's Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, adding to the list of controversial names returning for their final year.

The 2022 Hall of Fame ballot is being mailed to approximately 400 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) this week—and it might be the most controversial one yet.

Álex Rodríguez and David Ortiz highlight 13 new candidates on the ballot, joining 17 holdovers from the 2021 balloting which failed to produce a Hall of Famer. Curt Schilling came the closest to being named to the Hall of Fame in 2021, but fell 16 votes shy of the required 75 percent needed to be elected.

Schilling, along with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, are all entering their final year of eligibility on the writers' ballot.

The six aforementioned names all produced some of the most decorated careers in baseball history. Between the four hitters, they produced 11 MVPs, 45 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, 35 Silver Sluggers, three Batting Titles, four World Series championships and one World Series MVP. Clemens and Schilling combined for one MVP, seven Cy Young awards, two Triple Crowns, 17 All-Star appearances, seven ERA titles and five World Series championships and a World Series MVP.

However, all six players played during the most controversial era in baseball: the Steroid Era. All except for Schilling have been tied to performance-enhancing drugs one way or another. Some allegedly failed PED tests, like Ortiz and Sosa. Bonds and Clemens have their careers clouded in PED controversy, highlighted by their names listed on the Mitchell Report that came out in 2007. Rodríguez admitted to using PEDs—including his time as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003—and was subsequently suspended for the entire 2014 season.

Mar 2001; Unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez in the dugout during the 2001 spring training season. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Rodríguez previously said he felt an "enormous amount of pressure" after signing his massive 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers.

Schilling, however, has post-career issues that has left a bad taste in the mouths of BBWAA voters. His time as a host on ESPN is well-documented, as he was suspended and later fired by the network for controversial comments on both Twitter and Facebook. On Jan. 6, the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Schilling tweeted:

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“You cowards sat on your hands, did nothing while liberal trash looted rioted and burned for air Jordan’s and big screens, sit back, [shut the f— up], and watch folks start a confrontation for s— that matters like rights, democracy and the end of govt corruption.”

Schilling reciprocates the contempt with voters, calling them "frauds". He even publicly stated he would not participate in this year's voting cycle and requested to be removed from the ballot.

There is even speculation that given the controversy of the more accomplished players and the merit of the remaining candidates, the next player who could be named to the Hall of Fame is former Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré in 2024. His career numbers—including 3,166 career hits—check off enough boxes for a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, and he has no ties to PEDs or off-field issues.

BBWAA voters must return their ballots by a Dec. 31 postmark. The results will be announced by Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch at 6:00 p.m. EST on Jan. 25, 2022, live on MLB Network.

Here is the full 2022 Hall of Fame ballot (returning candidates have their 2022 ballot year and 2021 vote percentage in parentheses, new additions are in bold):

  • Bobby Abreu (3rd year, 8.7 percent)
  • Barry Bonds (10th, 61.8)
  • Mark Buehrle (2nd, 11.0)
  • Roger Clemens (10th, 61.6)
  • Carl Crawford
  • Prince Fielder
  • Todd Helton (4th, 44.9)
  • Ryan Howard
  • Tim Hudson (2nd, 5.2)
  • Torii Hunter (2nd, 9.5)
  • Andruw Jones (5th, 33.9)
  • Jeff Kent (9th, 32.4)
  • Tim Lincecum
  • Justin Morneau
  • Joe Nathan
  • David Ortiz
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Jake Peavy
  • Andy Pettitte (4th, 13.7)
  • A.J. Pierzynski
  • Manny Ramírez (6th, 28.2)
  • Álex Rodríguez
  • Scott Rolen (5th, 52.9)
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Curt Schilling (10th, 71.1)
  • Gary Sheffield (8th, 40.6)
  • Sammy Sosa (10th, 17.0)
  • Mark Teixeira
  • Omar Vizquel (5th, 49.1)
  • Billy Wagner (7th, 46.4)

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