The context for the Hall of Fame voting changed dramatically the other day, the moment that the election of Mike Piazza was announced, and if common sense is applied, an enormous bloc of voters will finally extricate themselves from the logic pretzel in which they've been entangled.
It's not a certainty that this will actually happen, of course, because common sense doesn't always apply in the Hall of Fame voting process. We know this because it's possible that some members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- a union of journalists theoretically devoted to pursuing transparency -- may not permit the public release of their Hall of Fame ballots. Go figure.
But the larger shift in the balloting is undeniable, and unprecedented, which is why the initial opinions that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens weren't helped by this year's Hall of Fame results could turn out to be dead wrong.
Clemens drew 45.2 percent of the vote the other day, Bonds 44.3 percent, and the instant analysis -- based on past ballot trends -- has been that with 75 percent of the vote needed for induction, both of these players have too far to go in too short of a time. Each could be on the writers' ballots for the Hall for six more years before falling off, the way that Mark McGwire just did.
But the circumstances for Clemens and Bonds are completely different from anything we've seen before in the voting, because of their pre-eminence as players, and Piazza's election could change everything about future balloting, in the way it has changed the context.