Beyond Golf — 07 January 2016 by Kirby Arnold
Ten on my ballot; two make the Hall

I checked the names of 10 great players on my 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot — Jeff Bagwell, Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

Griffey is the greatest player I’ve seen with my own eyes, and these eyes saw a lot of Stan Musial when I was a kid.  I would have been shocked if  he doesn’t get the biggest vote percentage in history, and disappointed (but not overly surprised) if someone doesn’t vote for him (three out of 440 vote did not).

Martinez got my vote because I believe the DH is a valued position in the game that requires a special player to succeed at it.  If Martinez were a career National Leaguer, you think he wouldn’t have played some position on the field?  Martinez wasn’t half a player; he’s the best right-handed hitter I’ve seen in the way he controlled an at-bat, used the whole field and hit in the clutch.

Hoffman got my vote because closers (like designated hitters) are people too and his body of work is worthy of the Hall.

Mike Mussina and Tim Raines are back on my ballot this year after I didn’t vote for them in 2015 because of the squeeze of the 10-man limit.

Alan Trammell also got my vote this time after I left him off last year.  To me it came down to Trammell or Larry Walker with my 10th vote, and Trammell was invaluable to the Tigers and a big presence in their 1984 World Series championship.

Once again I didn’t vote for PED players.

Every year I say I will reconsider my stance on PEDs in baseball as it relates to my Hall of Fame vote.  And every year that stance has remained unchanged — I will not vote for a player who has admitted or been found to use PEDs, and I am still not ready to vote for one whose cloud of suspicion is so great that it casts serious question about any phase of his career.   Not saying I’ll never vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but I haven’t seen anything that has lessened the huge amount of suspicion surrounding them.

PED players chose that path to success, along with the fame and money that came with it in many cases, over the issues they would deal with later — scrutiny, stained legacy and longterm health.  Yes, baseball turned its head far too long, but the users knew what they were dealing with. And this scrutiny over their place in baseball history should be the consequence, in my mind.

And before anyone asks why I voted for Bagwell and Piazza, back acne and whispered rumors aren’t enough to turn me away from those two.  I know someone whose back looks like a pizza, not because of drugs but because of a botched hair-removal treatment.

If the Hall of Fame mandates that we ignore failed tests or admission of PED use or muddied character, then my vote may change.

But not this year.

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Kirby Arnold

Kirby was 10 years old when he played his first round of golf with his grandmother on the sand greens of the Versailles Country Club in Missouri, and his love of the game has never wavered. Only one thing stood between Kirby and a single-digit handicap: his job. Kirby worked 42 years as a sports writer and editor at newspapers in Missouri and Washington. He started while a high school sophomore at the Rolla Daily News in Missouri and covered a variety of events, including his own high school basketball games (he made sure his name was spelled right). He was a sports writer and editor for 10 years at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, covering Southwest Missouri State University football and basketball, Missouri University football and basketball, and numerous motorsports events including the Indianapolis 500 during the 1970s and 1980s. He moved to the Seattle area in 1984, becoming assistant sports editor at The Herald in Everett, Wa., then executive sports editor from 1987-1998, a time when The Herald's sports coverage was recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as being among the best in the nation for newspapers its size. Kirby returned to the press box in 1999, taking over The Herald's coverage of the Seattle Mariners. He covered the Mariners/baseball beat the next 13 seasons and in 2007 wrote his first book, Tales from the Seattle Mariners Dugout. While Kirby pursued a rewarding newspaper career, one of his lifelong goals remained unfulfilled: breaking 80 on a consistent basis. Kirby left The Herald at the end of 2011, moved to Phoenix and immediately began spending more time at the golf course. His only excuse now is a 12 on the stimpmeter.

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