More than half the ballots submitted in this year’s Hall of Fame voting were made public by the voter and collated by Ryan Thibodaux in his HOF Tracker. Of the 243 whose ballots are known, 161 voted for Barry Bonds and 158 for Roger Clemens. Of the 199 whose ballots are anonymous, 77 voted for Bonds and 81 for Clemens.
Bonds got 64.4 percent of the known vote, Clemens 63.2 percent. That’s not all that far from the 75 percent needed for enshrinement. But note this: Of the anonymous vote, Bonds drew 38.7 percent and Clemens 40.7 percent. Put another way, those voters who have claimed their ballots were far more likely to have voted for the two biggest candidates tainted by PEDs the Hall will ever consider.
Me, I find that telling. (As noted, I voted for both Bonds and Clemens and have every year they’ve been eligible.) Is it easier to vote in the negative — and that’s what this is; on the record, there will never be 10 players on this or any ballot more deserving than BB and the Rocket — if you don’t claim your vote? Signs point to “yes.”
Which makes me wonder all the more about next year’s Hall election. We BBWAA members voted overwhelmingly to make every vote public beginning in 2018. (Here’s a great take on the coming mandated transparency from the great Jayson Stark of ESPN.)
I don’t have an issue if someone takes the stance that Bonds/Clemens/whoever doesn’t belong because of PED suspicions, although I obviously feel otherwise. But I have a suspicion the Bonds/Clemens will jump next January because being anonymous means you never have to defend yourself. And I believe, with time and tide, the momentum for Bonds/Clemens to gain Hall admission will grow. (We’ve seen it growing already.)
And maybe then we’ll have a Hall conversation that renders the guys who did gain the necessary votes an afterthought, the way this little missive just did. What can I say? Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez –I’m truly sorry. (But I did vote for all of y’all, so there’s that.)