Let me start by saying I know this might sound corny. Nonetheless, it’s true. Every November, when I receive the Hall of Fame ballot in the mail, I find it to be a humbling feeling.
What’s more, in talking with colleagues who share the privilege, I’ve learned my reaction is pretty much the norm.
Yes, there are exceptions, but most votes realize they are, effectively, part of a tribunal that determines who gains entrance into the game’s Valhalla. Most of us also try our best to get it right.
Here’s your chance to simulate the experience.
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The rules are simple and cited atop the ballot:
“Players listed are eligible for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016. They are the only players eligible. Please check the candidate(s) of your choice.You may vote for up to 10 players. You are not required to vote for 10, but you may not vote for more than 10. Ballots must be submitted by mail only by Dec. 21, 2015.”
These criteria for consideration reads as follows:
“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
OK…let’s make this clear: The actual ballots are numbered. Each one is sent to a specific qualified voting member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
So printing this out and sending it in, even if you get the proper address, won’t work.
To get a vote, you must be an active or honorary BBWAA member who is/was an active baseball writer for at least 10 years. And you can’t be more than 10 years removed from being an active member and baseball writer.
There were 549 votes cast a year ago when four players were elected: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.
The debate over who deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., gets heated. (Ask any Mariners fan about the ongoing lack of support for franchise icon Edgar Martinez, who remains on the ballot.)
But it’s a tough threshold. Election requires that a player be cited on 75 percent of the returned ballots.
The choices are tough. Do players stigmatized by the game’s steroid scandal deserve consideration? If not, does that taint apply only to those who were caught or admitted to the abuse? Or is mere suspicion sufficient?
So get to it. Submit your choices. And archive a copy to see how your ballot compares to the actual results, which will be announced Jan. 6.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners