When the baseball industry makes its way to Las Vegas this weekend for the winter meetings, among the early arrivals will be the members of the 16-person "Hall of Fame-appointed electorate," which is charged with evaluating the candidacies of the 10 names on the Today's Game Era ballot for possible enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Before the deliberations even begin, the electorate's outcome is preordained to be disappointing. That's because the ballot they will be evaluating is incomplete. Here are the names under consideration:
Harold Baines, player
Albert Belle, player
Joe Carter, player
Will Clark, player
Orel Hershiser, player
Lee Smith, player
Davey Johnson, player and manager
Charlie Manuel, manager
Lou Piniella, player and manager
George Steinbrenner, owner
Here is a name that is not under consideration: Mark McGwire, player.
The last time the Hall examined this era was in 2016. The 10 names that ended up on that ballot were: Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser, Johnson, McGwire, Piniella, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig and Steinbrenner.
Selig and Schuerholz made it; the others did not. The new names on the ballot are Smith, Carter and Manuel. McGwire is the only one who dropped off without being elected. In case you're wondering, the veteran sportswriters who prepared the ballot this time were the exact same ones who did it last time. I'm not going to call out these people, as I have deep respect for all of them, but this is just wrong.
I'll be honest with you: I'm pretty sick of the self-righteous moralizing that surrounds the PED issue, and even more sick of the assumptions that continue to be made about the topic in general. It's an issue too deep to dispatch within a paragraph, so I'll leave it at that. Maybe I'll write a book about it afterward.
In any event, trying to pretend that Mark McGwire never existed is not the way to go. Clearly some fresh perspectives on these committees are needed.
With that out of the way, let me order the candidates from most deserving to the least-most deserving. (I don't really want to call any of these accomplished individuals "least deserving," but I guess that's the nature of any kind of ranking.)