The results of this year's Hall of Fame election will be announced this afternoon, and you can bet the house that Rickey Henderson (left) will gain induction on his first ballot. Rickey is one of the greatest all-around players in the history of the game and he has the all-time records and cumulative numbers to be a 90-percenter.
I didn't vote for him, but that's only because The Baltimore Sun does not allow its employees to vote for postseason awards or for the Hall of Fame. I get a ballot every year and it makes nice reading or talkshow fodder, but it doesn't get sent back. That does not affect the voting percentages.*
The intrigue this year will be focused on the other deserving players who were on the ballot. This is the last year of eligibility for Jim Rice, who was one of the scariest hitters of his generation. And I always root for Bert Blyleven, who retired as one of the top strikeout pitchers in baseball history and came up just a handful of victories short of 300. He gets extra points from me because he was one of the funniest players I ever covered, but that doesn't do him a bit of good since I can't vote.
There are a handful of other players who could get close -- most notably Andre Dawson and recently overtaken all-time saves leader Lee Smith -- but I'm going to guess (and it's only a guess) that Rickey and Rice get in this time.
(*The reason some newspapers choose not to have their reporters vote is based on the notion that we should only report the news, not take part in making it. Since the major postseason sports awards and the Hall of Fame inductions are big news events, the idea is to stay at arm's length for the purpose of maintaining -- and projecting -- objectivity.)