The offseason brings, among other things, Hall of Fame voting from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Now, we could sit here and argue about whether the BBWAA still deserves to have the honor of voting, but that's a discussion for another day, I think.
Here's the Hall's release on the ballot, which includes 32 names, 15 of whom are on the ballot for the first time. The first-time candidates are Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Troy Glaus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Trevor Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Mike Lowell, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner and Randy Winn.
Holdovers from last year's ballot are Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.
Just three of these players qualify as former Cubs: Smith, Sosa and Edmonds, and Edmonds just barely, by virtue of his 2008 season on the North Side. (Admittedly a fine season, but if Edmonds ever gets in the Hall, and his case is borderline, he's going in as a Cardinal, most likely.) Smith is on his second-to-last year on the ballot.
Griffey, obviously, is the name that stands out from the newcomers. He should be a first-ballot choice with upwards of 90 percent of the vote. Hoffman, who held the all-time save record until Mariano Rivera broke it, is another possible choice from the first-timers. I don't see anyone else on the first list who rates consideration, and I have to wonder about a selection process that included Castillo and Winn, both of whom were decent regular players for a decade but who never really did anything that stood out as Hall-quality.
We're still, obviously, looking at some of the Steroid Era players among the holdovers. I don't think you can ignore an entire era in baseball history, as the writers appear to be doing, but it might take another 10, or 20, years to acknowledge some of the great performances from that era. And Schilling's latest, uh, "performances" on Twitter might kill some of the support he previously had.
BBWAA members can vote for up to 10 candidates out of the 32 eligible. If I had a ballot this year, I'd vote for Griffey, Hoffman, Bagwell, Raines, Piazza and Smith.
The polling feature here doesn't allow multiple voting choices, so leave your own ballot in the comments.