Beyond Golf — 03 January 2014 by Kirby Arnold
Getting my vote in just before dementia

Before I get into my 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, let’s clear up a few assumptions I’ve been hearing lately about baseball writers.

We’re not all a bunch of old fogies who pull our sans-a-belt slacks (Google it, kids) somewhere between our belly button and armpits. I favor front-pleated Dockers — brown, of course.

We don’t all live in the dark ages of entertainment and technology. Mixed in with my Benny Goodman 78s (Google that, too) are Uriah Heep LPs and Zeppelin 8-tracks. The Gremlin I drive gets both AM and FM radio.

My 10 HOF nomineesJust because I started my career eons ago writing stories on a Royal manual typewriter doesn’t mean I haven’t figured out how to make the latest technology work for me.  My great, great grandson is typing my feather-and-quill handwritten notes on something they call a LAP-TOP.

Some critics believe baseball writers haven’t grasped the game since the travel-by-train era, but please be assured that I place a lot of importance on such modern elements as WAR, WHIP, BABIP and other sabermetric measurements. I’d still like to see them travel by train a few times a year, though, and wear itchy wool uniforms with stirrup socks.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then nothing may change your opinion that the Baseball Writers Association of America is a bunch of backward-thinking old coots who aren’t just as concerned as you that the Hall of Fame voting procedure needs a re-thinking.

There are men and women in this organization way smarter than me – and they even have LAP-TOPS! – who are capable of addressing and fixing the issues that exist.

Hopefully, we’ll be allowed to vote for more than 10 each year. That certainly would ease the dilemma many voters faced this year on a ballot with way more than 10 worthy candidates.

Maybe the voting instructions will be more specific than the current “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.”

We probably never will resolve whether known PED users should or shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame.  I don’t think they should be in the Hall, but I respect those who believe otherwise.

I haven’t, and won’t, cast a vote for anyone who has tested positive or admitted to using PEDs.  And I’m not prepared, at this time, to vote for anyone who has fallen under such suspicion of PED use that it has cast a huge shadow over their career accomplishments.

With that, my 2014 ballot excludes Barry Bonds (pictured; thumbs down), Roger Clemens, Juan Gonzalez, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa.

It does include a couple who’ve been rumored to have used PEDs – Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza.  I don’t vote by rumors. Or back acne.

With that, here is my 2014 ballot:

Jeff Bagwell

Craig Biggio

Tom Glavine

Greg Maddux

Edgar Martinez

Jack Morris

Mike Piazza

Tim Raines

Curt Schilling

Frank Thomas

My biggest misgiving isn’t the PED argument. It’s leaving Mike Mussina off my ballot.

I went back and forth with him and Jack Morris. My only argument, as invalid as it may be, is something like the freshman who doesn’t make the all-conference team. His time will come.

This is Morris’ 15th and final year on the ballot and, for a guy who came close last year to getting the 75 percent needed for induction, it would be a shame to see him drop off without at least a strong run. To me, he was a big-game pitcher who made tremendous contributions to the teams on which he played.

If only we could vote for more than 10.

Maybe some forward-thinking people with the Hall of Fame and BBWAA will review the voting process and come up with a better way on future ballots.

Until then, there’s a Victrola (yep, Google it, youngsters) on my front porch and kids to chase off my lawn.



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About Author

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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