The fine folks at the Baseball Hall of Fame mailed out their ballots today, and I immediately called our travel agent just to threaten her with litigation if she even thinks about getting me a hotel in Cooperstown next summer.
How grim is it? In HOF press releases, they usually tease the big names in the first paragraph with some impressive career accolades: 500 HRs, eight All-Star appearances, something like that. This year's headline names? "Two American League batting champions, two league leaders in runs batted in and a winner of the Rookie of the Year Award." And Phil Nevin!
The most noteworthy first-timers are Tim Salmon, Vinny Castilla and Bernie Williams, and while Yankee fans will fight to the death for the credentials of their non-HOF-worthy alumni, no one's going to go to bat for Bernie Williams. Maybe for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The only returning players who got more than 50 percent of the vote last year are the climbing Barry Larkin and the stagnant Jack Morris. So it's time to throw the Internet's weight behind Larkin, unless you like HOF classes consisting solely of some Negro Leaguer you've never heard of and an umpire who's been dead for 120 years.
The full ballot, with players in their first year of eligibility in bold:
Jeff Bagwell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Brian Jordan, Barry Larkin, Javy Lopez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Dale Murphy, Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro, Brad Radke, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Bernie Williams, Tony Womack, Eric Young.