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The first thing I'd like to do is thank the BBWAA for admitting me to its ranks even though I'm merely a part-time blogger and weekly contributor to a website that has, in the past, had as an implicit mission statement the Association's destruction.

The second thing I'd like to do is thank the BBWAA for waiving its usual 10-year rule whereby one does not acquire a Hall of Fame vote until one has been a member of the Association for a decade. Really, you're too kind.

The third thing I'd like to do is cheerfully remind the BBWAA that I've kept a copy of the photos that we discussed in a safe and unreachable location and that I have implemented a dead man's switch that will release those photos to the public in the event that something happens to either me or my membership status. Happy 2013, y'all.

With those preliminaries out of the way, I'm turning in a blank ballot this year. I take my obligations to the Hall very seriously, and I know that some people think this year's crop of eligible retirees is the most qualified we've ever seen. I've heard tell of bloggists who would put 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 names on their ballots if (a) there were more than 10 votes allowed and (b) they'd had the foresight to be lurking around Nashville in the wee hours with a Nikon D2H and a high-powered lens.

Well, bah to them. I don't see 1.4 good candidates, much less 14.

That said, I once was an uncredentialed bloggist myself and I sympathize to a certain degree with some positions of the Interneterati, principally the idea that Hall of Fame voters should be transparent about their decisions and rationales. Voters are media members, after all, many of whom have columns and much-followed Twitter accounts. They have outlets for their explanations. Here, then, I use my outlet to explain my position on all 37 candidates.

  1. We can deal first with a pair of players who aren't even eligible. Mike Stanton and Roberto Hernandez are both active major leaguers in Florida, the former an outfielder for the Marlins and the latter a starting pitcher for the Rays. I understand how my compatriots at the BBWAA might be confused, seeing as how Stanton started going by his given first name of Giancarlo rather than his second middle name of Michael before the 2012 season. Further, Roberto Hernandez is the man who used to be Fausto Carmona. But c'mon guys. Before he changed his name, Stanton had a whopping 56 career homers and Hernandez/Carmona had a 53–66 career record and a 91 ERA+. These aren't Hall of Famers, eligible or not.

  2. A handful of others must be excluded because they've already been enshrined in The Hall of Nearly Great: Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, Kenny Lofton, Bernie Williams, Fred McGriff, and Alan Trammell are all in that (more exclusive, at least by the bare numbers) Hall, and given that the whole purpose of the Hall of Nearly Great is to "remember those who, failing entrance into Cooperstown, may unfairly be lost to history," well, shoot, how could we validly put those players into Cooperstown? It could invalidate both Halls—the Double Occupancy Problem is no laughing matter, people.

  3. Relief pitchers should not be in the Hall of Fame unless the 200-inning reliever makes a comeback. I don't care that some are already in. I don't think that leverage index should be imputed to the player. Relief pitchers simply do not belong in the same museum as Old Hoss Radbourn. (My guerilla project to kidnap the plaques of Goose Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and Dennis Eckersley is in the planning stages and anybody who wants in should get at me via backchannels.) So anyway, Lee Smith and Jose Mesa? They gone.

  4. Some might argue that the Hall of Fame should really be about "fame" and damn what the actual voting instructions say. Me, I think that if more Americans saw you in a motion picture in the role of Miguel Tejada than ever saw you actually playing ball yourself, you're not a Hall of Famer. Sorry, Royce Clayton.

  5. Morals count. The rules say so pretty clearly: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." (emphasis added) Pornography is immoral and smut is not to be countenanced in our society. So Mike Piazza, your marriage to a Playboy Playmate, happy though it may have made you, means that all I have to say to you is "good day, sir!"

  6. Wielding dangerous weapons, whether during a game or after one has retired, does not set a proper example for the children. Roger Clemens throwing a bat shard at the aforementioned smut-enabler Piazza and Ryan Klesko brandishing a gun to get the better end of a business deal eliminate them from Hall contention. Sure, the lawsuit against Klesko for the firearm incident was dismissed, so we're deep in "allegedly"-land here, but if we multiply the probability that he actually did the deed (let's say 1 percent, to be generous to Klesko) by the likely harm he'd have caused by pulling the trigger, we still get a huge amount of damage. No, Klesko must pay for what he possibly didn't but maybe did do and the consequences that could have resulted had there been an incident (allegedly). He must pay!

  7. A lot of players on the ballot have very common names: Jack, Jeff, Julio, Jeff again, Jeff one more time. Then there's Woody Williams. "Woody" isn't really a name you hear in your everyday life, I'd venture. Those station wagons with the paneling (and ideally the surfboards on top), those were woodies. The forest. That's woody. The— well. You know where this is going. Anyway, "Woody" is uncommon enough a moniker that you could reasonably expect a Hall of Fame pitcher to be the most notable person with that name, right? Who's the first "Sparky" that comes to your mind? Sparky Anderson. And he's in. But Woody Williams is, I'm sorry to say, beaten handily in notability, memorability, and pretty much every other ability by Woody Woodpecker. Dude is a cartoon bird with a tobacco habit and Woody Williams isn't even more famous than him. No, Woody Williams is not a Hall of Famer.

  8. On similar grounds, if Sandy Alomar, Jr. were so good, we wouldn't need to call him "Junior," would we? It would be obvious which one we meant.

  9. On less similar but still somewhat related grounds, when you search for Edgar Martinez at Baseball-Reference you get three possibilities. We should not approve of such activities. Same goes for Reggie Sanders.

  10. Rondell White probably passes the test that Woody Williams fails (apparently there's an actor named Rondell Sheridan, but he's, no offense, not as famous as Woody Woodpecker), but in the course of my in-depth research, I found this article about White's shoulder-injury problems. In it, he says that people thought he was "crying wolf" when he publicly stated that he had such an injury. Setting an example for the children includes not giving the wrong idea about the meaning of Aesop's boy who cried wolf—the point is that false alarms have bad consequences, not that we should not make excuses for our performance. The children must be led properly and Mr. White, if he wishes to be on my 2014 ballot, should take this year to study Aesop more carefully.

  11. The Hall of Fame is a museum. It is a place where people go to look at things and have a good time. I present David Wells and rest my case.

  12. The truth matters. Todd Walker's rate of earning free passes was below the league average in all but two seasons of his career. We have seen no indication that Jeff Bagwell does anything of the sort. Tim Raines? Le Stade Olympique has a dome! The next domination video we see featuring Barry Bonds tying someone down will be the first. I've seen photos of Shawn Green and he ain't. Curt Schilling's video game company might be worth about that much at this point, but he never played baseball for less than six figures. Each and every one of these players can forget the Hall of Fame. I'm pondering calling the Federal Trade Commission.

  13. Larry Walker escapes the above fate because he was actually quite good at drawing ball four. But the thing about Walker is that he's a known quitter. Check out the first paragraph of the meat of his Wikipedia page:

    Walker grew up playing ice hockey and dreamed of a career in the NHL as a goaltender, only playing baseball for fun during the summer. At the age of 16, he was offered tryouts with Junior A teams in Regina, SK and Kelowna, BC, but after getting cut from both teams, Walker decided to focus his athletic aspirations on baseball.

    What kind of lesson is that? Get cut by Regina and Kelowna and you just give up? "Guess I'd better not be a goaltender. Guess I'll just go play this stupid sport that nobody in my country cares about." That's not how to be!

  14. Mark McGwire share a nickname with a "sandwich" made of "meat" and "lettuce" and "cheese," so no.

  15. No man should ever have a mustache. Not in baseball, not in the boardroom, not in life. Mustaches are a pox on every house. Jack Morris and Rafael Palmeiro are both quite well known for their mustaches. Palmeiro even dared to take his to testify before Congress with him. What sort of shameful behavior is this?

    (I should note that Palmeiro's finger-wagging performance before Congress was endearing. If anybody deserves a good finger-wagging by a mustachioed Cuban who weighs 220 pounds, it's Congress. I'm happy to put him in some other Hall of Fame on these grounds, but the baseball one is too important to besmirch with such hair exploits.)

  16. Have you ever really thought about the name "Jeff"? Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. It's not even really a name. It's the noise you make when a bully punches you in the stomach. Jeff. It's the closest thing to an epithet you'll find in the canon of Anglo-American given names. Jeff! Baseball Prospectus has only had one Jeff in its history, the noble and good Jeff Euston, and he's got this whole "lawyer + Jeff" "two negatives cancel each other out" thing working. (Hugs, Jeff, hugs, from a fellow lawyer who sadly has nothing to cancel it out.) Anyway, I think there's a very good reason that more Jeffs have not made their way to these pages and that's because 99.9 percent of Jeffs are terrible. Just terrible. I can't put Jeff Conine and Jeff Cirillo into the Hall of Fame on those odds. The destruction that might be wrought is too massive.

  17. Sammy Sosa simply has too many s's in his name relative to other letters. I suspect he speaks parseltongue and is thus likely quite evil.

    I mean, he could be the savior of the world instead, but, again, the odds are too long

  18. Craig Biggio is listed at 5'11" and, besides the obvious exaggerating of one's physical attributes at which we should frown, do we really want to encourage the little men? I'm pretty sure Napoleon taught us that much.

  19. Cuteness is great for the Internet, the cat orphanage, and the playground. It has no place in the Hall of Fame. Do you know what's the cutest? Just the adorablest thing you've ever heard? Aaron Sele and Scott Hatteberg were a battery in college and were drafted 20 picks apart by the Red Sox in 1991. Isn't that sweeeeeet? SO CUTE. So not Hall of Fame.

  20. When I was a kid, I loved Julio Franco. He had a really good year in 1991, when I was nine and in my baseball card–collecting prime, so I figured that if I wanted to hit .341 like he did, I should, well, hit like he did. I did not hit .341. I don't think I even hit .241. Julio Franco's batting stance does not belong in the Hall of Fame.

  21. Steve Finley was born in Union City, Tennessee. The state of Tennessee seceded from the Union in 1861. Union City is a lie and that lie passes to all who breathe their first there. It's not fair, but what is?

As you can see, my blank ballot wasn't even particularly close. No other kind of ballot would even be defensible, unless you're one of those sick bastards who's actually okay with mustaches. (And if you are, well. I think the thing speaks for itself.) Better luck next year to Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and the rest. But not to Jeff Kent. No. Never.


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Kent has a triple whammy: his first name AND a mustache AND he's a known liar (fell while fixing his truck, ha!), so he's really screwed. Even if you say his appearance on Survivor falls under the "one negative canceling another" corollary, that still leaves two others. Or do the two remaining negatives cancel each other out? I'm confused now.

Didn't Maddux wear a mustache as a young player, or am I confusing him with his brother?

(I loved this piece, Jason! Great work.)
I think Maddux will likely get bonus points because he learned the error of his ways and shaved his lip-hairs off.

Thanks for the kind words, Shaun.
Is your gripe against the name "Jeff" limited to those who spell it that way? So, Geoff Blum will get your support when his time comes?
"Geoff" is a distinguished gentleman's name, certainly, really the total opposite of "Jeff."

Sadly, though, the Blum was off Geoff's rose before he ever got started, so I'm pretty sure I won't be voting for him.
#5 -- But if Piazza's marriage were seen as a noble attempt by him to Save her, well, shouldn't that count as "moral"?

#15 -- I would recommend not opening any envelopes you get in the mail from Jay Jaffe... (or Mike Piazza...)
Really fine! And more coherent than some of the 'blank ballot' pieces that have been drifting out lately.