Hall of Babel: Rounding up Hall of Fame voter explanations

Jared Wickerham

Snippets from many of the writers who dared put their ballot under public eyes for evaluation and criticism.

Hundreds of members of the Baseball Writers Association of America get to vote for who they believe belongs in the Hall of Fame every year. Some of those writers are even nice enough to publish their ballots online explaining why they chose who they did. Here are some quotes from those members' explanations.

Jayson Stark, ESPN: "But the more I considered voting according to any top-10 list I could come up with, the more I felt that many of those votes were going to be "wasted," on players who couldn't possibly get elected.

So in the end, the ballot I cast was based on this premise: I evaluated all the first-year candidates the way I always have -- by asking the question: Was this player a Hall of Famer, or not? The answer, for me, was yes -- on Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Mussina and Kent.

Then, with the five open slots I had left, I ranked my list based on electability, not WAR or any other number."

Ray Rotto, CSN Bay Area: "In other words, to all of you on your rhetorical high horses about this election or the ones in the past or the future, a word of advice. Go to Home Depot, buy some quick-drying putty, a roll of gorilla tape and a small table clamp, and apply them to the lowest hole in your heads. You are just opinion pack mules, like me, with approximately 1/600th of a say in the membership of the Hall."

Tom HaudricourtMilwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Voters are instructed to consider 'character, integrity and sportsmanship,' which makes you think more than twice about voting for Bonds and Clemens. That leaves me with my personal measuring stick of not having failed a drug test or admitted to using PEDs, so Bonds and Clemens got my final two votes."

Roger Mooney, The Tampa Tribune: "Some day I might vote for Clemens and Bonds. Right now I don’t feel comfortable."

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports: "In recent years, I have not voted for any first-timers, using my ballot as a form of protest, a way to distinguish players from the Steroid Era (however undefined it might be) from the greats of the past.

The flaw in my approach – well, one flaw – was that I could not reasonably apply it to a slam-dunk candidate such as Maddux without looking completely foolish and stubborn. I knew all along that I eventually would need to face that reality. So now I’m facing it.

If Maddux is not unanimous, it won’t be because of me."

Bob Nightengale, USA Today: "I believe the drug use rampant in baseball during the steroid era was much greater than anyone can imagine. I saw the deformity of the bodies. The surreal power. The dramatic weight losses and weight gains. The mood swings.

And, yes, the drug secrets that not only their some of their closest friends confidentially revealed, but also their agents, associates and peers.

This is why I take the lonely stance, judging players simply on their performance on the field and their impact on the game.

I vote for the steroid players."

Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com: "I had always voted for McGwire and Palmeiro, adding Sosa last year, despite the shadow of performance-enhancing drugs hanging over their careers. But I decided this year there was no room on the ballot to waste my vote."

Hal Bodley, MLB.com: "I'm not ready to vote for Biggio and once again have no intention of ever punching my ballot for the steroid-suspected candidates."

Ken Gurnick, MLB.com: "As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them."

Chris Haft, MLB.com: "I respect the sabermetric argument against Morris, but he defined the word ace in the 1980s."

Paul Hagen, MLB.com: "The logic remains unchanged: A Hall of Fame vote is too important to use guesswork about whether a certain player did or didn't use PEDs. As a result, the approach here has been to vote for the best players of their era regardless."

Richard Justice, MLB.com: "There are at least 16 deserving candidates on this ballot thanks to the backlog created by recent voting. At a time when there are more and better ways to analyze players, balloting seems to be getting dumber."

Terence Moore, MLB.com: "My voting method is simple: numbers and feel. The numbers part is self-explanatory. As for the feel part, a Hall of Fame candidate needs to make you feel as if he belongs with the others in Cooperstown."

Marty Noble, MLB.com: "I don't want 28 people entering the Hall at once, so I limited my checks on the ballot to three."

Phil Rogers, MLB.com: "October matters. And it matters more than ever in the current era."

T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com: "I still decline the honor of sitting in judgment of possible steroid users, but it's getting tougher each year to vote for Palmeiro and prop up his vanishing candidacy while not voting for someone like Thomas. That's not going to happen much longer."

Geoff Baker, Seattle Times: "As always, voters will have to follow their own conscience and do what they think is right on this issue. Not pander to public opinon [sic] — or what is perceived as such based on whoever happens to shout the loudest on the internet."

Larry Stone, Seattle Times: "Here’s a realistic scenario I think could change the dynamics of this discussion: If a player gets voted into the Hall of Fame, and then evidence is uncovered, let’s say by an investigative reporter, that reveals his steroids use. I doubt if the Hall of Fame would kick him out under such a circumstance. The precedent would then be established: A steroids user in the Hall of Fame (which could be the case already, by the way). I think the hard-line anti-steroids voters would slowly evolve towards a more lenient attitude if this happened."

Mike Imrem, Daily Herald: "Every time I cast a ballot it's accompanied by a dream that every summer into eternity, ultimate fantasy teams will play pickup games at Cooperstown."

Bruce Miles, Daily Herald: "My annual vote for Morris gets a little blowback from some in the sabermetrics crowd who contend that wins (Morris had 254) are overrated, but I contend it's called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Stats and that Morris has more than enough going for him to be elected."

Jon Heyman, CBS Sports: "It's simple, really. The steroid-taking players took an unfair advantage over the honest players when they all played. So why reward them now at the expense of the guys who played it straight? By disregarding, deferring or just plain saying "no" to the steroid guys, it isn't too hard to get the ballot down to 10 worthy players."

Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times: "Having drawn admittedly squiggly lines last year, I had eight on my ballot, including Bonds, Clemens, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, and Jeff Bagwell, all of whom have been accused, suspected or rumored — and in McGwire's case, admitted — to have used PEDs. Simply put, evidence and innuendo aside, none were proven to have done anything against the rules at the time.

Also, none of us, voters or scientists, are smart enough to determine how much of their success was due to whatever help they may have had. And what they did was pretty special".

Monte Poole, CSN Bay Area: "If a man's accomplishments and significance rise far above his nefarious activity, he'll likely get my vote. I am, first and foremost, judging baseball players."

Marcus Breton, The Sacramento Bee: "You can call Hank Aaron the home run king all you want, but baseball records show the all-time home run king is Barry Lamar Bonds.

None of Clemens’ 354 career wins or his record seven Cy Young Awards have been voided, either. In fact, a federal jury acquitted Clemens on all charges in a lengthy trial for allegedly lying to Congress about never having taken performance-enhancing drugs.

But I’m supposed to disregard this because I know better? Come on."

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe: "I’ve been voting since 1986 and I truly miss the good old days when we argued about home runs, batting averages, ERAs, World Series performances, All-Star Games, and a player’s dominance at his position in his era. Things were so much simpler then. Saying yes to Ron Santo or no to Jim Kaat was a serious baseball debate. This was before PEDs and WAR and ALDS and Deadspin buying a Hall of Fame ballot. Now there is so much to consider, it makes one’s head explode."

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: "It's only natural to be suspicious of Mike Piazza, who went from 62nd-round draft pick to 35-homer guy in five years. But minus any proof he took anything more than "andro" and "greenies," he gets my nod."

Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune: "And, once again, go away Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa."

Sean McAdam, CSN New England: "Some of my fellow voters complain that the rule which limits them to 10 players is too constricting. I've never experienced that problem...This year, I placed five names on the ballot, three of them newcomers. In 15 years of voting, that's the most number of players for whom I've voted."

Dave Cameron, Fangraphs: "Bagwell’s a top 10 first baseman, and regardless of what kind of suspicions you might have about his physique, there’s no evidence that Bagwell used PEDs, and keeping one of the great players in the history of the sport out of Cooperstown because he was too muscular is the height of silliness."

Steven Goldman, SB Nation: "Finally, you could demonstrate, as virtually everyone with two brain cells to rub together has done over the last 10 years, that the Hall of Fame has long been the home of such lizard-brained reprobates as Cap Anson, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Tris Speaker, guys who (to borrow from Harlan Ellison), if they visited your house, you would have doorknobs cauterized."

Grant Brisbee, SB Nation: "Of course, I get the sneaking suspicion that using WAR to evaluate catchers is like using soundtrack sales to evaluate movies. I'm guessing in a few years, we'll all laugh at ourselves for even trying it. I'm not excited about catcher-defense stats, not as they currently stand, so there's no way I would keep Piazza off my ballot if I had one."

Rob Neyer, SB Nation: "It's also, in actual practice, not the Hall of Good Guys. The so-called "integrity clause" notwithstanding, it's difficult to think of a single Hall of Famer whose personality played a significant role in his election. If integrity really mattered to the voters, Dale Murphy would have been elected a long time ago.

So please don't tell me it's not about numbers. It's always been about numbers."

The newest round of inductees into baseball's Hall of Fame will be announced at 2:00 pm ET Wednesday afternoon.

More from SB Nation MLB:

Normandin: Why the Hall of Fame doesn't matter anymore

Goldman: Time to delete Mickey Mantle from the Hall of Fame

Brisbee: The dogmatic Lee Smith voters

Baseball Hall of Fame profiles: Mark McGwire | Fred McGriff | Mike Piazza

Death of a Ballplayer: Wrongly convicted prospect spends 27 years in prison

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