The baseball writers choose to lean towards neither. It seemed the ones who wanted to honor the best players regardless of steroids choose not to acknowledge players who were not tied to steroids. It also seems some of the purists voted just for the players not tied to the era. Some of the players who have gotten a large percentage of votes in the past actually got less votes than they have in years past. That means writers voted for a player last year and did not vote for them this year. Did the player get worse in the past year? Were they a Hall of Famer in 2011, but lose their edge in 2012? Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff, all players who make very good cases for themselves to be Hall of Fame players, all received less percentage of the vote than they did last year. That usually does not happen when players receive between 36 and 50% (for the except for McGriff) of the vote like they all did last year. I would like to hear from well known baseball writers who voted for any of those last year and would like for them to explain why they changed their mind for this vote.
I have no issue with any of the top five players in this year's vote, all of whom received more than 50%. Though I feel Jack Morris is a very borderline Hall of Famer, I would not object to him getting in. It is mysterious though, that he only picked up 1% of the vote (from 66.7-67.7%) leaving him with just one year of eligibility. First timers Craig Biggio (68.2%) and Mike Piazza (57.8%) missed out, but chances look good that both players will make it in the near future. Or will they? Jeff Bagwell received 56% of the vote last year, only to see his percentage increase to just 59.6% in year two. Tim Raines seemed to be the only repeat player on the ballot gaining traction, jumping to 52.2% from 48.7% last year.
There is no surprise the writers spoke when it came to players who put up Hall of Fame numbers, but were linked to steroids. Roger Clemens (37.6%), Barry Bonds (36.2%), Mark McGwire (16.9%, down from 19.5% last year), Sammy Sosa (12.5%) and Rafael Palmeiro (8.8%, down from 12.6%) all put up Hall of Fame numbers. The notable difference between Bonds and Clemens to the others is how dominant they were. Bonds and Clemens had two of the best careers in the history of the game, while the others finished similarly to each other. What gets me is how Clemens got 8 more votes than Bonds. Obviously, the writers that voted for Clemens and Bonds thought the steroid allegations did not matter. So, how could those eight writers vote for Clemens and NOT Bonds? Just makes no sense.
The inconsistency is what gets me when it came to the writers this year. It was not that nobody got in. If the point was to make a stand to keep the steroid players out, then why was there not more support for Morris, Raines, Smith, Martinez and Trammell, if not for Biggio, Bagwell and Piazza? Though I don't think Morris is a Hall of Famer, he was a great postseason pitcher who was an ace and was the best AL pitcher in the decade of the 1980s. Raines was the best leadoff hitter of all time, outside of Rickey Henderson. Smith was a dominant closer who had more saves than HOF pitchers Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers. Martinez, though he may be held back because he was predominantly a DH, was one of the most clutch players the game has ever seen. And, like I have said before, if Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer, Trammell has to be. The writers should have stood for something, and they failed to do so.
There were too many options for the writers not to vote anybody in. Many choose to point at the steroids, but, like I have stated, there were deserving players who were not linked to steroids. Because nobody got voted in, attention will continue to be on the steroids. The BBWAA had a chance to make it about this great game. But, by not selecting anybody, they made it all about steroids, something MLB is trying to distance itself from. All it would have taken was a single player to be put in, and most of the talk would be about that player. Now what is the talk about? I leave you with this question: How much of an advantage did Gaylord Perry have by throwing the spitball and would he have put up HOF numbers if he did not cheat?