This column is being penned on January 6th but by the time you read it, the Hall of Fame ballot results will be out there for everyone to digest and debate. This might be the most contentious decision-making process ever for the baseball writers and reading through the writings of various eligible voters, one thing is clear...nobody agrees on anything! This isn't surprising because in speaking with scores of fans over the last few months, I've found the same can be said of their opinions. From people who would put the maximum of ten players on their imaginary ballot to those who want to make some sort of statement by leaving the ballot blank to everywhere in between. The PED issue has muddied the waters to such an extent, there is no right or wrong answer. The only position that is stupid is the one where a fan says, "steroids don't matter that much, you still need to hit the ball." All those people must first watch the ESPN 30/30 documentary on Ben Johnson's Olympic 100-meter race before apologizing to the rest of us.
Based on a recent survey utilizing ballots made public early in the process, there seems to be a reasonable chance that no player will be elected by the writers in 2013. Won't that be great fun for the fans who have already made plans to travel to Cooperstown for induction weekend? With all this as a backdrop, the Old Duck will enter the fray and share with you his mythical Hall of Fame ballot. One thing I know for sure...nobody will agree with me.
> Jack Morris, NO - The fact that he received 67% last year is very surprising to me. His lifetime ERA was 3.90 and his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is less than 40. A good pitcher, not a great pitcher. Tommy John and Jim Kaat are more deserving.
> Jeff Bagwell, NO - I'm not penalizing him for suspected PED use, it is just my feeling is that he's a borderline candidate in only his 3rd year on the ballot. Could eventually be elected in the same vein as Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.
> Lee Smith, NO - Just not convinced he was a "difference maker" during his career in the same way as Dennis Eckersley, Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. There could be an argument made, however, that if Bruce Sutter belongs, so does he.
> Tim Raines, YES - Overlooked and underrated, he might be the second best leadoff hitter in the history of the game. Over 2,600 hits and 800 stolen bases, his WAR is 66. He was also the player most affected by the owners' collusion tactics and it probably cost him millions of dollars. Let's at least give him a plaque.
> Alan Trammell, YES - Substance should be as good as style. Has all the attributes you'd want in a player - longevity, consistency, team success, offense and defense. Lifetime WAR is 67, making it an easy call. As much as I dislike the basis of the argument, if Barry Larkin is a Hall of Fame shortstop, so is this guy.
> Edgar Martinez, YES - The argument against the DH doesn't hold any more credence than the one against relief pitchers ten years ago. The best at every position belong in the Hall. His lifetime OPS of .933 is better than Mike Piazza or Sammy Sosa and the WAR of 64 seals the deal.
> Fred McGriff, NO - As time goes on and voters have a chance to digest his numbers prior to the PED era, more consideration will come his way.
> Larry Walker, NO - Another player who may be more appreciated as the years roll on, but the Colorado factor makes it difficult to determine his real credentials.
> Mark McGwire, NO - Deserves some credit for admitting his methods, but he still doesn't believe that PED's helped him hit home runs. Really? As Pam Tillis once said, "They call me Cleopatra because I'm the queen of denial."
> Don Mattingly, NO - Everyone would like to vote for him, but his lifetime WAR of 40 tells you he just didn't play long enough.
> Dale Murphy, NO - Same comment as Mattingly, with a WAR of 43
> Rafael Palmiero, NO - Got caught just as he was heading toward 3,000 hits. Left a bitter taste for both voters and fans, as we had no clue how long it had been going on.
> Barry Bonds, NO - Yes, he was a Hall of Fame player without steroids and yes, he will get in someday, but sometimes you must make a stand. If Robby Alomar had to wait a year for spitting, this arrogant jerk should have to wait a year for each needle-marked cheek.
> Roger Clemens, NO - The Bonds comment applies here also.
> Mike Piazza, NO - As with Bagwell, this isn't about suspected PED use. It's just that he wasn't a great all-around player and seems more like a 2nd or 3rd year guy. Some of you may criticize the logic with the argument about a player either being a Hall of Famer or not, but players are on the ballot multiple years for numerous reasons and we're working within that system.
> Curt Schilling, NO - One of those marginal guys with 216 Wins, his lifetime WAR of 76 is very impressive and higher than many pitchers already enshrined. Will get more votes as time goes on.
> Kenny Lofton, NO - Once again, a good player but not a great player. And, there isn't room on the plaque for the caps of 12 different teams.
> Craig Biggio, YES - 3,000 + hits, defensive versatility and a lifetime WAR of 62 make this a fairly easy call.
> Sammy Sosa, NO - A one-dimensional player who achieved that dimension through dubious tactics. He should, however, get more votes than Chico Escuela.
Only four of my ten spots are filled but that seems reasonable. Don't forget about some of the other players on the ballot for the first time - Todd Walker, Jose Mesa, Jeff Conine, Royce Clayton, Ryan Klesko, Rondell White and Woody Williams. That sounds more like one of my Rotisserie teams from the past.