(We interrupt this discussion for this brief message: Can we all please acknowledge that the Hall needs to be a history museum, not some sort of sacred cathedral? It's too late for those bells to chime in total purity. Way too late. Thank you for listening. Now back to our 2014 ballot programming.)
But the more I considered voting according to any top-10 list I could come up with, the more I felt that many of those votes were going to be "wasted," on players who couldn't possibly get elected.
So in the end, the ballot I cast was based on this premise: I evaluated all the first-year candidates the way I always have -- by asking the question: Was this player a Hall of Famer, or not? The answer, for me, was yes -- on Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Mussina and Kent.
Then, with the five open slots I had left, I ranked my list based on electability, not WAR or any other number. Every one of my remaining votes went to a player whom I've voted for in the past, a player who had a realistic chance of being elected this year and a player who, as it turned out, got more than 50 percent of the votes cast last year.
It was an incredibly frustrating way to vote. It meant not voting for players like Curt Schilling and Edgar Martinez, who absolutely, positively had Hall of Fame careers. It meant leaving off the names of Bonds and Clemens, two of the most dominant players of modern times. It meant leaving myself open to way too many critics who have every right to say I didn't vote for the best players on the ballot.
But I resigned myself, in the end, to the reality that a broken system forced me into voting the way I did.
I pretty much know, from past elections, how this electorate is going to vote on Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Martinez, McGwire, etc. They're stuck in limbo now. They'll still be stuck in the same quicksand next year. But I had no idea what these voters would make of Mussina or Kent. And this system forced me to factor that uncertainty into my thinking.
So once I decided they rose above my HOF threshold, I thought it was more important to make a statement about their Hall credentials than it was to rank them or compare them to the other names on my list. I also thought I had no choice but to do what I could to make sure they were around for consideration in future elections.
And that's how I came to fill out the ballot I lugged to the post office last week. It's tormented me ever since. But that was my thinking. Sorry if you disagree with it. I can't say I blame you, to be honest. But here's how I looked at the 10 players I voted for:
There are going to be voters out there who don't vote for this man, based entirely, I guess, on the idea that nobody else has ever been unanimous, so why start now. There's just one word to describe any ballot that doesn't include Maddux's name: Embarrassing. Here are just some of this guy's amazing feats: