This past Hall of Fame (HOF) voting that featured three big time athletes linked to performance enhancing drug (PED) use told us a few tales about HOF voting. The first and most talked about lesson is that these writers don’t seem to want cheaters in the hall.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa were all on the ballot for the first time and all failed to get over 40% of the vote, despite having undisputable HOF numbers.
Of course there is the belief that some players don’t deserve to get in the first ballot and get “punished” by having to wait until their second or third year eligible to finally be voted in. This is one of the more ridiculous practices by some of the voters that gives off the thought they seem to think these retired players’ year will be ruined by not getting into the HOF. That is just one of the practices used by the voters that is talked about among baseball fans, however, there is another one that is even more problematic for keeping the integrity of the HOF in tact.
One more unfortunate fact about HOF voting is that since the voters are writers, who have a relationship with almost all of the players being voted for, they let their personal opinions about the players affect their voting. This has been known for a while but was even more obvious in this year’s voting as Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa, all have numbers good enough for the Hall of Fame, all were linked to cheating during their careers, yet all ended up with a different number of votes.
Bonds and Clemens ended up with only an eight vote difference, each ending with 206 and 214 respectively, however, Sosa, a member of the 600 home run club, only recorded 71 votes. This deep drop off from a player who has the numbers for the HOF can be attributed to only a few things, his corked bat incident in 2003 which resulted in him being ejected from the game, being viewed as a bad teammate and bad leader, or being disliked by most writers.
Sosa’s drop off is not due to his involvement with PED’s, as both Bonds and Clemens were linked to them, which they denied being true, as did Sosa. The most realistic explanation for his lack of votes must come from the personal opinion the voters hold of him. Sosa has over 600 home runs, is a member of the 30-30 club, hit 60 home runs in a season three times, and was part of the 1998 home run race with Mark McGuire among many other career accomplishments.
It is a no-brainer that Sosa belongs in the same class as Bonds and Clemens as the most dominant players of their time, and is really a shame that voters would let their personal opinion of a player affect their voting for something as prestigious and important as the Hall of Fame.
If interested, complete HOF voting results (http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/hof_2013.shtml) can be seen along with the results of the 101 writers who made their ballots public .