Hall of Fame Game
The Hall-of-Fame ballot for 2008 is being mailed out to voters -- myself included -- and includes only one truly mortal lock for immortality: outfielder Rickey Henderson
Players that have accumulated 10-plus years of time in the majors and have been retired for five years are eligible to be included on the ballot. A player receiving 75 per cent of votes cast enters the Hall. If a player receives a certain minimum of votes each season, he can remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years. At that point their candidacy is handed over to the Veterans Committee and that's a tough, tough screening group.
Henderson retired in 2003 and tried to get back to the majors, putting some time in an independent league. That didn't count against his waiting time.
The voting is conducted among 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association, who consider this the most significant responsibility of their sometimes less-than-august group. It's not getting any easier in terms of the Steroid Era and other extenuating factors in steering a vote away from certain candidates. Each ballot, returned before the end of the calendar year, may include up to 10 nominees.
Here is a list of this year's candidates by position:
Pitchers: (7) Bert Blyleven, David Cone, Tommy John, Jack Morris, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Lee Smith.
Outfielders: (9) Harold Baines, Andre Dawson, Ron Gant, Rickey Henderson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Greg Vaughn.
First-basemen: (4) Mark Grace, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Mo Vaughn.
Other Infielders: (3) Jay Bell, Alan Trammel, Matt Williams.
I'll be writing a column on the '08 Hall-of-Fame class once I receive my ballot with the accompanying literature. But it seems that this would be as good an opportunity as they will ever get for other outfielders - Rice, Dawson and Raines - to make a significant move.
McGwire, the poster boy for the disgraced era of steroids has received the exact same percentage of votes his first two years on the ballot, far short of inclusion. Whether you agree with it or not, that is unlikely to change.