There are 15 first-time candidates on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, including former Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar, Edgar Martinez, Barry Larkin and Fred McGriff. But the Hall of Fame election always seems to be more about the holdovers than the guys under initial consideration.
The guy who has stood out for me for the past few years as the most notable HOF snub is pitcher Bert Blyleven, who has been passed over for more than a decade even though his numbers are comparable with a lot of pitchers already enshrined at Cooperstown.
I've been campaigning for Bert for a long time, because I covered him during the latter days of his career with the California Angels. He's a nut -- I always like those kind of guys -- and he might have had the best curveball of his generation. He's also very high on the all-time strikeout list (3,701) and won nearly 300 games (287), so I hope my colleagues will recognize him before his 15 years on the ballot run out next year.
I'll be curious if the voters are beginning to forgive Mark McGwire, who is returning to uniform as a coach with the Cardinals next season. I think he'll get a few more votes than last year, but I don't think he ever gets voted in if he continues to stonewall about the steroid issue.
The player with the best chance to make it on the first ballot is Alomar, one of the slickest second basemen of all time and was -- for awhile -- the best all-around player in the game. Edgar Martinez also is deserving if voters can get over the designated hitter thing (it's one of the positions in the lineup, so it shouldn't be stigmatized) and Fred McGriff should get some love for his 493 homers and 1,550 RBI.
Okay, now it's your turn. The voters can pick up to 10, but give me your top three:
Here's the whole ballot: Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Ellis Burks, Andre Dawson, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile.