Every newly eligible player not named Rickey Henderson who appeared on the Hall Of Fame ballot for this year, did so for their first and final time.
No new blood other than Rickey managed to get the 5% of votes required to remain the ballot. A few got no votes at all. (It's okay. I still love you, Ron Gant.)
It's just as well, though, because now those players don't have to suffer the indignity of 15 years spent hovering in the 20-25% range, miles away from induction—or worse, the 60% range where you know that another 40 or 50 votes could put you over the top, but the old curmudgeons of the BBWAA won't die off fast enough for you to move up the ranks. Just ask Bert Blyleven what that's like.
But the real crime is that we have to sit through 12 more years of the Mark McGwire debate. (And many more after his Congressional lying buddies become eligible.) McGwire, the eighth-leading home run hitter of all time, got 118 votes. That's ten fewer than he got last year and about 300 fewer than he needs for admission.
Ten years ago, Mark McGwire was America's greatest champion, but now he's just a stupid musclehead who rescued his sport only so that he could destroy it. He will pay for the sins of an entire generation of baseball players who may or may not have taken shortcuts through a system specifically designed to encourage and reward such behavior. (And to those who try to say now that his accomplishments are "marginal" or "one-dimensional" with or without steroids? Stop it. You're not kidding anyone.)
Everyone has an opinion about McGwire and steroids and the times we live in, and he does have some vocal supporters. But for most, it's a reverse protest vote against ... what exactly? Because he didn't tell you what you wanted to hear at that Congressional hearing, even though you don't even know what you wanted to hear and, honestly, you didn't want to hear it anyway. You didn't want to hear it in 1998 and you don't want to hear it now. I don't see any of the people crying about the inflated numbers of the late '90s and '00s lining up to reward Don Mattingly or Alan Trammell, clearly among the best of their "clean era." You wanted big numbers? Well, guess what—you got 'em. Now you gotta live with it, unless you want a Hall that only contains David Eckstein.
Maybe by the time his eligibility winds down, enough people will have given up or forgotten or enough new people who don't care will be given a vote, and McGwire will sneak in the way Jim Rice did. (Maybe Rice finally got in as a subtle dig at McGwire himself?) Perhaps in a few years when guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are being denied, people will see how ridiculous they are being and open the Hall up to all the players who rose above the best of their times (and many others times too.)
By the way, the only person who didn't weigh in this year? Baseball writer Mark McGuire, of the Albany Times-Union, who I think showed admirable restraint by staying out of it.
From Agee to Zisk - the “No Votes” of the Baseball Hall of Fame [Home Run Derby]
McGwire does not pick up Hall support [MLB.com]
Steward: Is it time to re-evaluate Mark McGwire's status? [Berryessa Sun]
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens could get Hall snub [LA Times]
McGwire snub telling [Seattle Times]
Voters Cannot Forgive or Forget Suspicions of McGwire’s Drug Use [NY Times]