I hardly ever agree with Ken Davidoff. I actually can’t remember the last time I did. But I have to give him credit. He nailed it 100% with his Hall of Fame ballot, or more specifically, his explanation of it. You can read the whole thing here. I can quibble with a choice or two, but he was dead on with his reasoning.
About his vote, he wrote, “I am a judge, but not a cop, an agent of vengeance or a babysitter. I don’t conduct my own investigation into players’ alleged performance-enhancing drug usage, nor do I seek to right past wrongs or protect “clean” players. If, and only if, baseball has punished someone for a violation, then I will factor that punishment into a candidacy.”
To that end, he emphatically supports assumed (but not proven) steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and also questionable-by-association (absurd) candidates Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. He did not vote for Rafael Palmeiro or Sammy Sosa because their failed drug test and corked bat incidents, respectively, damages their cases enough to fall off his ballot with other such qualified candidates. He did not state he would never vote for either player, just that their transgressions drop them below the threshold for this, a ballot lousy with no other such convicted players.
His specific choices aside, I think he approached it the right way. He, as a writer and voter, is not the moral police and it bothers me when other voters and fans assume that role because of some almighty sense of entitlement. If there’s documented evidence, like in the cases of Palmeiro and Sosa, then that should by all means be considered. But as Davidoff also writes, The U.S. government couldn’t prove Bonds or Clemens used illegal PEDs, so who are any of us to punish them for it.
For what it’s worth, I’d have left Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker off my ballot in favor of Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez and Craig Biggio. Not that the former three don’t deserve votes and potential enshrinement, but the latter three, in my opinion, are more deserving than they.
Kudos to Davidoff. His is a Hall of Fame ballot, in more ways than one.