This year's hall of fame ballot may be underwhelming. The ballot doesn't have any new surefire candidates. There is no one player people have been waiting to see elected. We're caught between the Cal Ripkens and Tony Gwynn ceremony and the impending honoring of Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux. Who is going to get a plaque in the meantime.
I started following baseball in the mid nineties with only a faint understanding of what baseball statistics meant and no conception of intangibles or player value. A player was good if someone (most often my father) told me he was good. Even until recent years, I was no good at understanding players. I knew a .300 batting average was good. I knew a sub-3.00 ERA was good. I didn't know that there was more to hitting and pitching. I didn't know defense really mattered. I didn't know anything and I didn't have to. If you were any good you were wearing pinstripes and winning.
Now many of the players I grew up watching, but not really knowing, are appearing on the ballot and many are disappearing almost immediately. I don't doubt that trend continues. The hall means more than being "good." I've heard so many times before that you had to be "great" to be in the hall. But how great? Where is the line? Last year we saw Andre Dawson receive one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a human being. Did he deserve it? Did he deserve it more than anyone else that year? I am on the fence.
Those are the sort of questions I'm going to struggle with here. And, pretending that my opinion matters, I'll give my votes for each of these players. I'm going to try to be fair, but I'm not going to try to predict anything.
Starting with guys who have spent the longest time on the ballot...