With the 2014 Hall of Fame vote safely behind us (trust me, don't turn around, it'll be OK), what better time to look forward toward the 2015 ballot when we can relive these last few wonderful wee--hey come back! OK, maybe it wasn't the greatest time to be on social media for a baseball fan or someone who enjoys the use of sound logic, but it did end up with history being made. Three inductees and one 74.8 percent vote later and we can calmly (for now) look to a 2015 ballot that will include Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and others.
Those three, not to mention players such as Gary Sheffield, Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra and Brian Giles, will earn at least some attention in a still-crowded ballot. So prepare for 2014 all over again, except without the Jack Morris refrains from either side (expect at least some of those to go to Don Mattingly, though, in his 15th and final year on the ballot). There's a good chance that we see another three inductees, with Martinez and Johnson basically locks, and Biggio a good bet after falling just two votes short this year. Smoltz might play the Biggio role as someone who will almost assuredly enter the Hall of Fame, with the only question being when.
With the backlash against PED users, or those who even saw one walk down the street one time, it's hard to say what will become of deserving players such as Mike Piazza (62.2 percent), Jeff Bagwell (54.3 percent), and Tim Raines (46.1 percent). It's not as difficult to figure out what will happen to those we know took steroids as Clemens, Bonds and McGwire actually lost ground. This might shift as the electorate continues to change, but given the hard-line stance that many have taken (including not voting for anyone who even played with these and other steroid abusers), it's hard to imagine they'll come anywhere close to the 75 percent threshold.
The players affected most are those who are on the fringe: Curt Schilling (he shouldn't be borderline, but somehow is), Mike Mussina (same), Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, etc. Some of these guys should absolutely be in and others deserved to at least be discussed at length, but either way, they'll see their votes split among a variety of candidates who writers think deserve to be above the 5 percent mark that prevents someone from dropping off. Even with the full ten spots filled, there are going to be deserving candidates left off of ballots. Given the relatively low support for deserving players such as Mussina (you could make the case he was as good or better than Glavine), it's hard to imagine that he (and those in his position) will make significant gains while facing the same ballot situation they faced this year.
So it all comes down to ... what? Without a change to the 10-name limit, and without a weak incoming class, this logjam on the ballot isn't going away anytime soon. We saw a player in Biggio, who is almost assured of induction, not receive votes because of the 10 player limit on the ballot, and that practice is likely to repeat itself with three deserving candidates replacing the three inductees. We've already seen people creating "strategic" ballots, leaving off some of the greatest players of our generation so that they can allocate that vote to another player they feel deserves to be on the ballot another year. Not only are voters doing this, but others are validating it, and it's difficult to tell them they're wrong. This is the very symbol of a system in disrepair. Unfortunately, it's guided by a body that is jealous of a glacier's pace and is better at enacting grandstanding than it is change. The 2015 ballot will, once again, be one to celebrate. Martinez, Johnson, Smoltz and others deserve both support and love. Here's hoping they get it.