The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

January 5, 2012

A Steve Goldman column: Breaking some new ground

Like everyone, I have my ups and downs. I have my moments where everything seems to be in the right place within my world, and others when I wish I could just leave everything behind temporarily and sneak back in unnoticed after a few days.

Then, there are times when something happens that validates what I am doing professionally — something that provides reassurance that I’m not wasting my time and energy in doing what I’m doing, and in some cases sends a message that I do it well.

As it pertains to sports writing, the most meaningful of such instances come from you, the readers. I always need to remember that what I write is for you, so the best affirmation I can get toward that end is when I get positive feedback from you. But about a month ago, I received a different kind of affirmation when I learned that I had become eligible to vote for the inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In order to be eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame, one must have been a member of the Baseball Writers ‘ Association of America for at least 10 consecutive years. Last year, a total of 581 ballots were cast, and the total number of people who were eligible to vote was probably less than 700. So it is truly a privilege to be given this right, and I also consider it to be an honor.

I thought I would share my 2012 voting selections with you. See whether you agree or disagree.

First, a brief description of the voting process is in order. A player must play in at least 10 seasons in the major leagues in order to be eligible. He cannot appear on the ballot until he has not played in five seasons (with an exception in the event of death). After that, a screening committee pares down the list of first-year eligibles to those who will be included on the ballot.

A voter may select up to 10 candidates. Candidates who get at least 75 percent of the votes are elected to the Hall of Fame. The others will return in the following year, unless they have appeared on the ballot 15 times, or fail to receive five percent of the vote, in which case they will be removed.

A player who ultimately does not get elected by the BBWAA can still be voted in later by the Veterans’ Committee. For example, this committee voted Ron Santo in as a member a month ago, and he will be enshrined in the summer, along with whomever is elected by the BBWAA. The deadline for BBWAA voting was Dec. 31, and the results will be announced Monday.

This year’s ballot listed 33 players. Though all had to achieve at a certain level even to be named on the ballot, I would not consider this year’s crop of candidates as being a particularly strong one, as such crops go, when taking everything into consideration. For one thing, of the 13 first-year eligibles, I don’t consider any to be worthy of induction. The best of that class, in my opinion, is Bernie Williams. A fine player, certainly, but I don’t think he belongs in the HOF.

There are six players on the ballot who I do believe should be included, and those are the ones for whom I voted. Here they are, listed in no particular order:

JEFF BAGWELL (2nd year on the ballot) — Let me say first Bagwell has never been linked to use of steroids or other illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Yet I will address that touchy issue here.

Because of this issue, especially with regard to steroids, specifically, this is not an easy time to enter as a first-time voter. Not only does it touch on a lot of other issues, but in

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