December 2008

Stop trading MLBloggers!

OK, just having a little headline fun there. We just lost our top 2008 player blogger now that Mark DeRosa has been shipped from the Cubs to the Indians. With any luck, he will want to still blog while with the Tribe, but as we have seen with cases such as Joe Blanton, it rarely works out that way. Just in case, rest assured that we are putting in a word with AC, our popular Indians correspondent who blogs at CastroTurf. Mark was phenomenal as a Cubs MLBlogger. He maintained the MLBlog jointly through postseason with our excellent and longtime Cubs correspondent, Carrie Muskat, and I can attest for how conscientious he was in wanting to be frequent and compelling. All of his posts are now marked as unpublished and it’s an Indians template…just in case.   🙂  Life moves on…

Brian Fuentes was not an MLBlogger. But we are sure that a lot of MLBloggers are going to have something to say about him replacing K-Rod as the Angels’ new closer. Just announced.

We are gradually building the list of followers at our new Official MLBlogs Twitter! Seen it yet? It is the latest way to be a key part of this MLBlogs community, and to promote yourself. Go to and you can find it. If you already are on Twitter, just follow @mlblogs — and if you aren’t, then it’s (real) easy to sign up there and then go to that URL and follow us. I will be maintaining that Twitter as well as this community blog, so we now have at least three centers of social networking (also a Facebook page if you search there for MLBlogs and join up). Werbie’s there, Rock Pile Ranter, mthrilla, even Red Sox Chick (offspring of Red Sox Hen) from a past MLBlogs life! Early squatters on our new Twitter page are dominated by Red Sox fans, so others might want to jump right in — especially all of you who often complain about Red Sox and Yankee fans getting too much attention! Start tweeting! In 140 characters, just say what you’ve blogged about and be sure to paste your Permalink into so that you’ll have a tiny URL. (Tinier than btw.)

Make sure you are all over the remote BEFORE 6 p.m. ET on Thursday. You do not want to miss the first syllable or image uttered when the MLB Network goes on the air at that time. It will make television history — forget sports and sports networks — when it demolishes the record for largest cable network launch into 50 million homes, about 20 million more than the previous high. Almost everyone will have this, and it will mesh with MLBlogging perfectly. I promise to keep asking Tony Petitti’s crew how we might be able to use the MLBlogs Network in synergy for that new world. Who knows…anything is possible. First let’s get it launched! I have written about 4,000 stories leading up to the launch of it and the latest is on in case you have further questions. Thanks to Elizabeth in Miami from the MLBlogosphere for being a part of the main launch preview story! Oh yeah, she’s following our Official MLBlogs Twitter, too! If you’re not tweetin’ then you’re not meetin’.

Happy New Year from us at MLBlogs!

Happy New Year

TWITTER UPDATE! 10:52 a.m. ET Dec. 30: Just created our Official MLBlog Twitter! Go to to follow, or if you already have a Twitter account, follow us there at @mlblogs — and let’s start off 2009 with some tweets. If you are new to Twitter, a “tweet” is a 140-character (max) post, and it’s a great way to further grow your MLBlogs community and get to know other MLBloggers. I saw that SBNation has one of these, and don’t worry, we are not making our own into a twitterfeed bot place! It will be inhabited by actual, living, breathing baseball bloggers! Leave any questions/comments here and have fun with it!

Hope everyone had fun opening their presents. We launch the MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, so make sure you check the channel locator at and be ready to watch the first greeting and then blog about it. Happy New Year in a brand-new way…

I was just wondering which Sunshine State team’s one-year comeback was better in 2008: The Rays or the Dolphins? That thought just occurred to me watching Miami last night. I guess we should wait and see how far the Fins go.

As always, remember to leave tweets with your full URL here just to drive others over to your MLBlog. It’s one of the many little things you can do to promote your blog.

More Random MRA:

Random MRA:

Happy Holidays

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and a wonderful holiday season to anyone and everyone here in this fabulous baseball blogging community. It is so big and represents a lot of different faiths and lifestyles and outlooks on everything.

I just wrote about some sure things in baseball. Gift Cards and Ichiro’s 200 hits are among them, and I am sure you have some thoughts as well.

Here are some of my holiday wishes…

That lots of people see the brand-new official Giants MLBlog that just launched today. Inside the Giants Clubhouse is written by my friend and one of the best writers I (and legions of Bay Area readers) know, Joan Ryan. Joan also facilitates Bengie Molina with his blog and is one of the most talented people around the MLBlogosphere; we’re fortunate to have her here.

That the combined amount going to three Yankees is a harbinger that happy days are ahead again for the economy and that money will flow again. That this Red Sox blogger finds peace after reading about Mark Teixeira’s news. This Yankee fan in Montana is not happy about a purported end of our Shocktober streak. Me, I’m not so sure about that. Can’t buy me love.

That the homeless guy who slept right next to me as we closed a Barnes & Noble last Saturday night in New York City will not have to moan “Oh, noooo” again when they announce over the speaker that the store is closing, leaving people to go out into freezing weather.

That those who made the 2008 MLBlogs Top 100 will eagerly welcome new and aspiring bloggers to this community through comments. Many of them already do, one of the reasons they made the list in the first place, leaving a URL as a breadcrumb.

That we will continue to offer more enhancements to your Movable Type software in 2009.

That my friends at the new MLB Network will have a beautiful journey starting New Year’s Night with the largest launch in cable history. I can’t wait to watch Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series Perfect Game in its entirety (except for the missing first inning!). The public hasn’t watched the broadcast in 52 years, and with this launching in 50 million homes, it is a good bet that it will be a slightly bigger crowd. My article on 50 things to know.

That Collin Balester won’t ever get tired of MLBlogging!

Speaking of Balester, that his Nationals and the Orioles return some baseball electricity to the Washington-Baltimore corridor. Two of the best stadiums in sports, and now all they need is some winners. The Nationals will have to do that without Tex.

That I can go through another injury-free year of marathon running. After I quit smoking and started distance running in December 2006, my first year was filled with the typical overuse injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis and so on. It is amazing how much equipment matters; I probably will never leave Brooks Glycerins.

That the only fighting is over a pop fly (I hate it when it just lands between confused fielders), that my favorite country wins the World Baseball Classic, that the old Chris Carpenter is back, that I can get a good seat to a game at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, that all three of my Hall of Fame Ballot votes result in those players’ inductions next summer (two won’t happen), that more people go to Cooperstown so they may be reminded why certain “great” former players simply don’t belong in a place of “gods”, that next July we celebrate the life of Stan Musial during the All-Star Week while we are so lucky to have him amongst us, that a new U.S. president will exact the kind of big-impact positive change people expect.

Driving more traffic to your MLBlog

Thought you might appreciate this.

And here is some more Random MRA:

Who’s ready for Spring Training?

Here is my story on the homepage about the Spring Training schedule.

I can’t think of a better thing to blog about right now. It’s about to snow like crazy here in NYC.  🙂

Happy Holidays from the Phillies Ballgirls. And congrats on the new Ballgirls for 2009 that were just named. More holiday themes from Alyssa Milano and Lisa Winston.

Make sure you check out the Christmas tree they put where once upon a time there was a pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium.

Congrats again to everyone who made the first MLBlogs Top 100.

I mailed my Hall of Fame Ballot in yesterday. No sense holding onto it until the Dec. 31 deadline to get it back to the BBWAA. I checked three names. Any more and I felt like it was the Hall of Guys Who Had Right Fine Careers. Our annual article in early January will say how we all (15 voters) voted.

Happy First Birthday to Baby Paul.

Bally is doing some serious player blogging. Gotta love it when a player goes around blogging on other people’s posts within the MLBlogosphere. Another new player is about to crank it up here.

Enjoy the holiday festivities!

Random MRA:

The MLBlogs Top 100

mlblogs_100_icon (2).gifANNOUNCEMENT (12/14/08): If you made the MLBlogs Top 100 and want the 116×38 badge here for your page, please email us here and we will reply with the embed code that you can place in your header Description text or wherever works. Be sure to include MLBlog title and URL in email.

* * *

By popular request, we have compiled the first-ever MLBlogs Top 100
to show our 2008 traffic leaders in this community by page view. The
range is from our relaunch on Opening Day to date.
These are
separated as usual by templates, one for MLB PRO BLOGS (members of the
Major League Baseball family) and FAN MLBlogs. Congratulations to the
Top 100!


It’s no surprise
the top two MLBlogs are collaborative efforts, pooling the talents of
30 writers for up-to-the-minute breaking news and rumors during
the two biggest periods of roster moves: the mid-season Trade Deadline and the offseason Hot Stove. Josh Rawitch’s Inside the Dodgers and Bryan Hoch’s Bombers Beat
were near the top on the strength of extremely active communities of
commenters, while Mark DeRosa takes the prize as the top-ranked player
blogger with his blog, The Pulse. As for October Gonzo, he finished 17th — respectably high for a newcomer who didn’t get much publicity. 🙂

1. Hot Stove Blog
2. Trade Talk
3. Inside the Dodgers
4. The Pulse
5. Bombers Beat
6. The Baseball Collector
7. Beck’s Blog
8. CastroTurf
9. Organizational Report
10. Inside the White Sox
11. Shane Victorino’s Postseason Blog
12. *touch* ’em all
13. Brownie Points
14. Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
15. Postcards from Elysian Fields
16. Major League Bastian
17. October Gonzo
18. Dining with ‘Dre
19. Frenchy’s Forum
20.’s Fantasy 411
21. Jacoby Ellsbury’s Postseason Blog
22. Newberg Report
23. Beat the Streak Report
24. B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful
25. The USA Baseball 16U Blog
26. Geeking on the Draft
27. Tommy Lasorda’s World
28. MLBlogosphere
29. Phillies Insider
30. Rangers Farm Report: The Future is Here
31. Red Sox Insider Blog
32. Behind the Mask
33. Down the Line with the Phillies Ballgirls
34. Gameday
35. Around the Horn in KC
36. Carlos Pena’s Postseason Blog
37. Scorpion Tales: C.J. Wilson’s trek across the blogosphere
38. Official Home Run Derby Blog
39. Yankees in the AFL
40. Twins Ballpark Update
41. Yooooouuuuukkkkk
42. Ryan Braun’s Postseason Blog
43. Friar John’s Blog
44. Vine Line’s Cubs Club Blog
45. Siguiendo a los Mets
46. MLB Urban Youth Academy
47. Yankee Stadium Memories
48. Mets in the AFL
49. Ben’s Biz Blog
50. Torii Hunter’s Postseason Blog
52. Official All-Star Game Blog
53. Brian Anderson’s House of Blogs
54. Brian’s Baseball Blog from Beijing
55. Comerica Park, 48201
56. National Youth Baseball Championships
57. New York Minute
58. Brian Anderson’s Postseason Blog
59. Torre Stories
60. MLB.TV Mosaic Blog
61. A’s Thru Z
62. It’s a Kind of a Family. It’s a Kind of Insanity.
63. Liga Mexicana
64. The Kevin Slowey Blog
65. Official Final Vote Blog
66. Inside the Chiefs
67. Jesse Sanchez at the Park
68. Twins Confidential
69. 2008 Draft Prospect Blog
70. Wright Now
71. The Dog Ate Daron’s Homework
72. An Astros Minute
73. Red Sox in the AFL
74. The Dish
75. Mountain Dew Reds Crew Official Blog
76. Welcome to Third and King
77. Braves in the AFL
78. Ask Dave
79. Leading Off – Remembering John Marzano (1963-2008)
80. White Sox in the AFL
81. Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen: Life on the beat
82. From the Booth with Steve Stewart
83. Take Me Out To The Blog Game
84. The Big Blue Blog
86. Dodgers in the AFL
87. A ‘Braves’ New World
88. Orioles in the AFL
89. Statues on Parade Marathon
90. got milb?
91. Royals in the AFL
92. Cardinals in the AFL
93. Giants in the AFL
94. Cubs in the AFL
95. Reds in the AFL
96. MLB Musings with Michael – Look Who I Just Interviewed!
98. Academy Barons
99. Voices of The Game
100. Twins in the AFL


In an election year, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see a politically tinged blog like Red State Blue State draw major traffic. Prince of New York
Paul Lebowitz continued to enjoy a big following with his in-depth
analysis, while another New Yorker, novelist Zoë Rice, is getting
plenty of attention for her baseball writing in Pick Me Up Some Mets. Despite coming on the scene in August, All Baseball All the Time closed very strong to finish fifth, while Big Pupi gets special mention as the only canine on the list of active Fan MLBlogs. Props to author Jane Heller for cracking the Top 10 despite joining the season late. Comment on any and all of these below, and you will automatically grow your own following.

1. Red State Blue State
2. Prince of New York
3. Pick Me Up Some Mets!
5. All Baseball All The Time
6. Blogging Dodgers and Baseball
7. Big Pupi- Baseball Dog Blogger
8. The Rumor Mill – MLB Rumors
10. Confessions of a She-Fan
11. The Brewer Nation
12. Bruce Markusen’s Cooperstown Confidential
13. The ‘Burgh Blues
14. Baseball, The Yankees, and Life…
15. Yogi Brewer
16. Phillies Phollowers
17. Yankees Chick
18. Bleeding Pinstripes
20. Cambios y Curvas
21. Baseball Cleats & Shoes
22. Statistician Magician
23. Rays Renegade
24. Phillies Red Pinstripes
25. Angry Fan’s Baseball Fix
26. sittingstill
27. My Brewers
28. Red Sox Nation Daily
29. Red Sox Hen
30. Baseball Bats
31. Cardinal Girl
32. Hook, Line Drive, & Sinker
33. The Bullpen Baker
34. The Green and Gold Gal
35. Dugout Diary by Joe Boesch
36. Who’s in Right Field? — My Brewers Blog
37. Crawly’s Cub Kingdom
38. Rachel’s Redbird Ramblings
39. 1060 West Addison: A Chicago Cubs Blog
40. District Boy
41. Bjarkman’s Latino and Cuban League Baseball History Page
42. The 1 Constant…Baseball
43. Sports Propaganda
44. DYNASTY League Baseball from designer of Pursue the Pennant
46. Wrightoholics
47. Flair For The Dramatic
48. Rockpile Rant
49. Hardball
50. We’re talkin Homer, Blue Jays and MLB
51. The Closer
52. 4thebirds
53. Let’s Go Tribe: Looking to end the 60 year curse
54. For everything else, there’s Yankees Baseball.
56. The Hot Corner
57. The Heirloom
58. Prose and Ivy
59. Chicago White Sox Fan Message Board… The White Sox Guy
60. (Transplanted) Nation – A Boston Red Sox Blog
61. 161 and River: Yankee News and Analysis From a Fan’s Perspective
62. Thurman Munson Should Be In The Hall Of Fame
63. Perfect Pitch
64. Ranger Trade Talk
65. Rising From the Ashes
66. The Good of the Game
67. Love of The Game: Through 2 Different Pairs of Eyes
68. The BILF Report
69. Baby Paul’s Baseball Blog
70. Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes
71. Dodgers Blog
72. Barrel Man’s Brewings
73. Girls Don’t Know Anything About Baseball
74. Unfinished Business
75. Phightin’ Phils Phorum
76. Big League Hair
77. The Baseball Nut
78. Joe Fuller Red Sox Fantasy 08
79. Fantasy Lineups
80. Atlanta Bred
81. The 6-4-3
82. Johnny Archive in J.A.I.L.
83. Mo In The 9th
84. Cubs Nation- wasn’t our time.
85. Out of the (Field) Box
86. Ballpark Frank
87. 1961 Yankee Stadium Replica
88. Rays from across the Pond
89. Rays Archive
90. Dodger lyrics
91. Mets’ Main Man
92. Cubs Chatter
93. The Squad
94. The Season Experience
95. Julia’s Rants
96. Heading Around First
97. New Mexican Yankee Fan
98. Dispatches from Red Sox Teen Nation
99. San Diego Wannabes
100. Hitless Wanderings in Texas

Note: Among Fan MLBlogs, “active” accounts were considered.

As we’ve done often with the weekly Latest Leaders, here is a little trivia contest. The first person (other than Rays Renegade lol) to post a comment here listing all 12 EXACT URLs in this illustration will get some extra promo love right here at the Msphere. Have at it:


MLBlogs pioneer receives major award

Please join me in congratulating our friend Scott Reifert, who was the first-ever professional sports senior executive to be an everyday blogger and a non-stop force in growing the MLBlogs community. Well deserved! Here is today’s news release:


            Scott Reifert,
Vice President of Communications for the Chicago White Sox, has been named the
2008 winner of the Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence, it
was announced last night.

Reifert, who is
in his 18th season with the White Sox, joined the club in 1991 as Assistant
Director of Public Relations and was promoted to Director of Public Relations in
1997. He was named Vice President of Communications in April 2004 where he
oversees the club’s strategic communications efforts, media services, mass
communications functions, branding, public relations activities, community
relations initiatives and the team’s website. In addition, Scott administers the
team’s market research initiatives and is a member of the club’s advertising

Prior to joining
the White Sox, Scott worked at Wirz & Associates, a Connecticut-based sports
marketing and public relations firm with a variety of baseball-related clients.
Scott is a 1988 graduate of the University of Iowa, and also has a master’s
degree in sport management from Western Illinois

 The Robert O.
Fishel Award, named after the long-time baseball executive, goes to the “Active,
nonuniformed representative of Major League Baseball whose ethics, character,
dedication, service, professionalism and humanitarianism best represent the
standards propounded by Robert O. Fishel.”

 Fishel award
nominees are submitted by the 30 clubs and league officials. The nominees are
voted upon by active past winners, MLB officials and the BBWAA. Winners of the
award are as follows:


1981 Robert O.

1982 Bob

1983 Larry

1984 Red

1985 Jim

1986 Fred

1987 Jim

1988 Tom

1989 Donald

1990 Ned

1991 Phyllis

1992 Richard

1993 John

1994 Katy

1995 Howard

1996 Bill

1997 Dick

1998 Jay

1999 Bob

2000 Tim

2001 Rob

2002 Mike

2003 Rick

2004 Jeff

2005 Randy

2006 Rob

2007 Rich

2008 Scott

Here’s hoping our friend Josh Rawitch, another blogging trailblazer for the Dodgers, is a candidate at this time next year. Blogging definitely can be an advantage for today’s pro sports executive, whether in communications or beyond.

Curt Smith’s influence: Also just noticed that our own Curt Smith, the acclaimed author and former presidential speechwriter, is part of the 20-person electorate that decides the Ford Frick Award winner. In this case, they just gave the 2009 honor to Tony Kubek, so Kubek willl be part of the induction ceremony next July. Another example of the influence of MLBloggers!

Adding some Flair to the profile pic

Thanks for the memories, Mad Dog. Voting for you in five years. Now that’s a Hall of Fame career. Keep that in mind when all these wild debates continue and require exhaustive statistical comparisons and pleas (ie another righty who just retired). . . .

Thanks to our friend Vanessa over at Flair for the Dramatic for submitting the design used as our latest profile pic here at your friendly neighborhood community blog. We like how V captured the feeling of the entire planet (since MLBloggers are scattered worldwide) and the font and the overall coolness factor. Reminder that if you post a profile pic of yourself on your blog, like the dude at Rocky Mountain Way, you can be considered for the Featured Blog spot on our homepage at That way you can brag to all your friends that you’re featured on

We also want to give a special shout-out to our friend Jeremy Homer over at Homer, Blue Jays and MLB for submitting the design that you see below. We liked the left side better than the right side, but then again, that’s what All-Star voters say about the Yankees’ infield each year. Thanks, Jeremy, for going to the Photoshop trouble! And any MLBlogger out there who wants to try your hand at our next MLBlogosphere profile pic to represent this unmatched baseball blogging community, just email us a jpeg that you designed and include your URL, and it could mean some extra publicity right here for your own MLBlog!

Here’s some Random MRA:

COMING SOON: The 2008 MLBlogs Leaders!

Who will be the MLBlogs traffic titans of 2008? Will it be a Cub like Mark DeRosa? Will it be a dog like Big Pupi? Will it be a very small person like Baby Paul? Will it be yours truly? (Yeah, right.) Will it be those Phillies Ballgirls who snag the attention at Citizens Bank Park, or will it be Zack, the guy who snags all those baseballs that the Ballgirls and others leave on the field? Will it be the guy who had the sweetest promotion of the entire year — October Gonzo? We aren’t sure because instead of doing this on Monday, we did a lot of Shop and Winter Meetings stuff and wandered downstairs to buy a couple of blue-vanilla cupcakes instead of running the program. But we promise: It’s coming. You asked for it. We’ll deliver. The first, ever, mega-anticipated thrill ride is on deck: THE 2008 MLBLOGS LEADERS. There might even be a header graphic in it for the biggest ones, just like those little cool “I’m a Top 732,000 Blogger on” thingies. Because one of you guys asked for one. 

Latest Leaders 11/26 – 12/3

These are the MLBlogs Network’s Latest Leaders for the week of Nov. 26 to Dec. 3 based on page views.


The Hot Stove Blog continues to be the overall runaway winner in MLBlogs traffic. It’s been drawing so many visitors that we’ve had to tweak some things to keep commenting working.

1. Hot Stove Blog
2. Bombers Beat
3. Inside the Dodgers
4. Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
5. Postcards from Elysian Fields
6. Brownie Points
7. The Baseball Collector
8. The Kevin Slowey Blog
9. Newberg Report
10. CastroTurf
11. Phillies Insider
12. *touch* ’em all
13. Beck’s Blog
14. Red Sox Insider Blog
15. Around the Horn in KC
16. Major League Bastian
17.’s Fantasy
18. MLBlogosphere
19. Dining with ‘Dre
20. Inside the White Sox
21. Organizational Report
22. The Pulse
23. Yankees in the AFL
24. Tommy Lasorda’s World
25. B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful
26. Bally’s Blog
27. Behind the Mask
28. Ben’s Biz Blog
29. The Shopper
30. Comerica Park, 48201
(note: Be sure to keep visiting our friends at MAX, the YES Network blog. It should be high in these rankings but was omitted due to a technicality and I can’t remember where it ranked lol)

Fan MLBlogs

We’ve got a new Number One in the Fan Blogs, with The 1 Constant…Baseball
taking over the top spot. With discussion of everything from Hot Stove
news to Hall of Fame voting, it’s easy to see why readers keep coming
back for more.

1. The 1 Constant…Baseball
2. Confessions of a She-Fan
3. Red State Blue State
4. The ‘Burgh Blues
5. Prince of New York
6. Baseball, The Yankees, and Life…
7. The Rumor Mill – MLB Rumors
8. All Baseball All The Time
9. Rockpile Rant
10. Wrightoholics
11. Red Sox Hen
12. Julia’s Rants
14. Rays Renegade
15. Hardball
16. DYNASTY League Baseball from designer of Pursue the Pennant
17. Braves World
18. Angry Fan’s Baseball Fix
19. Phillies Phollowers
20. Baseball Cleats & Shoes
21. Blogging Dodgers and Baseball
22. Rangers Farm Report: The Future is Here
23. The Future Blog of the Red Sox
24. The Closer
25. Yogi Brewer
26. District Boy
27. Cambios y Curvas
28. The Happy Youngster…Brew Town’s Ballhawk
29. Red Sox Ramblings
30. Dugout Diary by Joe Boesch
31. Unfinished Business
32. Blogging ‘Bout Baseball
33. Braves Buzz with Luke
34. Pittsburgh Pirates – Bucco Blog
35. Diamondhacks
36. Love of The Game: Through 2 Different Pairs of Eyes
38. Baseball Bats
39. Phillies Red Pinstripes
41. Baseball’s Hottest Wives
42. Pick Me Up Some Mets!
43. Big Pupi- Baseball Dog Blogger
44. Perfect Pitch
45. 1961 Yankee Stadium Replica
46. King Yankees
47. Sports Propaganda
48. The Good of the Game
49. The Green and Gold Gal
50. Yankees Chick

The Hall of Fame Ballot arrived

So on Saturday I opened my real-life mailbox, and my
favorite mail of the year was inside: A big manila envelope from the Baseball
Writers’ Association of America, containing the 2009 Hall of Fame Ballot and my annual
responsibility to help preserve the integrity of a wonderful institution set
inside the beautiful and important hamlet of Cooperstown, N.Y.

My friend and colleague Jack O’Connell wrote all about the ballot today on

First I read the cover letter from Hall president Jeff Idelson, as I always do,
with the complete set of rules on the back regarding the entire election
process. It says in rule 4B: “An elector will vote for no more than ten
(10) eligible candidates deemed worthy of election. Write-in votes are not
permitted.” There are about 550 Hall of Fame voters, self included. I
started covering baseball as the San Francisco Giants beat writer for the San
Jose Mercury News
in 1990, and after 10 years of consecutive BBWAA membership,
you receive this privilege. I have a Lifetime Honorary membership and will
always vote as long as I can watch baseball.


I notice that Rice was only 16 votes short last year, and six of those no-checks were within our crew, myself included. It is Rice’s 15th and final year on the ballot, and I already have seen one fan comment that he is likely to get more support because of that. Nonsense. You vote for someone because you think he is a Hall of Famer. Period.

I consider it a place for the elite of the elite,
and the way to appreciate that the best is to actually take trips there and
understand what it means for fans who make pilgrimages to that beautiful
Gallery room inside the Museum on Main
Street. It is a hallowed place with plaques that
represent players who were truly about Fame, about a level of sustained
dominance over an era that precious few can attain.

Then I look at the ballot. It says: “Players listed are eligible for
election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. They are the only
players eligible. Please check the candidates of your choice. You may vote for
up to 10 players. You are not required to vote for 10, but you may not vote for
more than 10. Ballots must be submitted by mail or FAX by Dec. 31, 2008.”
And underneath that are 23 names, each with a little box next to them.

My first reaction is to look for Rickey Henderson, as he is a first-ballot lock
and personally I can’t wait for his speech next July. I don’t think anyone else
will be there with him. Again, my overarching thought always is: “Elite of
the elite.” Too much reasoning, no way. These plaques go next to those of
Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial. But I will
vote for more than Rickey, the all-time leader in runs and steals, and a
two-time World Series champ (’89, ’93). Beyond that, any other checks will be
noted in that annual story that will be posted in early January.

Then I look at all the names, alphabetically: Harold Baines, Jay Bell, Bert
Blyleven, David Cone, Andre Dawson, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson,
Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Jesse
Orosco, Dave Parker, Dan Plesac, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Alan
Trammell, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn and Matt Williams.

At this point, one of the coolest things happens in the process. Instead of
being overly critical, I look at all the names, one by one, and the feelings
wash over you of those days in your lifetime. Maybe I’m not going to vote for
Gant, but I think about those Tomahawk Chop days, and what it was like covering
him as a baseball writer. I think of Orosco entering game after game after
game. I’m not going to vote for Bell in his first year on the ballot, but I am
reminded of his savvy play with the Pirates on a team that really should have
won at least one world championship. Grace, how he entertained fans at Wrigley.
I think of the Matt Williams who I covered every single day that first year as
an MLB beat writer in 1990, hanging around the batting cage while he hit. I
remember talking to him one Spring Training in Scottsdale, and how he told me
“I’m just trying to get the head of the bat on the ball” and how he
would use place a flat, padded board on his left hand to field grounders at
third base just to get the “touch” during drills. It’s also the 15th and
final year on the ballot for John, and I think of when I was growing
into the game and how enduring guys like him and Rice were as facts of life summer after

How can I not vote for Mattingly? I played against him in high school in
Evansville, Ind., he for Memorial and me for Central. If only he could have
lasted longer as a Major Leaguer. He was a Hall of Famer through and through,
the autograph everyone wanted. Fortunately, Donnie Baseball is not defined by how
he does on this ballot; he is still beloved.


I don’t think the overall focus on these baseball memories should be lost in
this check-box process. We can all share in that whether we all vote or not.
Baseball is about building memories and tradition. I love how it feels to
reflect back on Blyleven, who came up with the Triple-A Evansville Triplets
when I was first going to American Association games there and learning to
score as a boy. I know how many Royals and Mets and Yankees fans will feel when
they think now about the Cone they remember as a player. He may not have been
Nolan Ryan, but he made good memories; he was a winner and he threw a perfect game.

To the right is another part of the Ballot envelope’s contents. It is a stapled, six-page packet of “supplementary material” that “reflects longevity, awards, records held, league leadership, 20-victory and .300-BA seasons, no-hitters, home run/RBI achievements and championship series/World Series accomplishments.” And so on. The career stats are provided by Elias. This is an easy reference for us, in case anyone can’t immediately know in his/her heart that a player is a Hall of Famer. On this page you can see Rickey’s justification paragraph at the bottom. I looked at it just for fun. I look at all of them just to relive what I saw, and in some cases to help cement a decision.

One thing I feel good about is that I voted for Mark McGwire in both of his
first two years of eligibility, refusing to “make him wait” as some
kind of moralistic punishment. You will see more writers now come around to the fact
that you can’t know what all went down in this era, and his vote total will spike significantly in the next month. Rickey was in the same
locker room as Big Mac on that 1989 world championship team in Oakland. How do
you know he was immune from PEDs? Are you going to keep him out by association because Jose Canseco didn’t write about him? Rickey was powerful and was effective late in his career. I have
said it before and I’ll say it again: BBWAA members are not commissioners. Pete
Rose is not on the ballot because the commissioner wishes it that way. It’s his call. If Rose
ever shows up on my ballot, he’s automatically checked. Charlie Hustle’s artifacts are some of my favorite stuff to see already in the Museum, so when you visit Cooperstown you already appreciate and adore him, anyway; the plaque is a formality, albeit a big one. Anyway, I remember the Big Mac
I took my son Matt to see on the night of No. 62 at old Busch Stadium, and the
joy he brought to our lives. Same with Sammy Sosa: 600+.

There is going to be a caravan of candidates in four or five years with sick numbers. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Sammy. 300-game winners galore. I don’t see me getting in their way at this point, unless someone is banished for something. I think it will be a motherlode of Hall of Famers within a two- or three-year span, their stats prevailing. I predict that the Mother of all Inductions will be when an entire Yankee Universe descends on nearby Cooperstown for Derek Jeter’s speech. I think it will even dwarf what Ripken/Gwynn brought in 2007. If I’m Jeter, I don’t think of playing anywhere other than in pinstripes the rest of my career.

MLBloggers will be stating their own cases for different candidates this
winter, and as usual it will become an impassioned debate for who belongs. You
might not agree with my votes (just look at how we differed amongst
voters last year), but I respect that we all have different feelings about
which players were most important in our lives and who had the biggest
collective impact. I look forward to reading your blog entries about the
candidates, and as usual I am going to hold onto my ballot as long as possible, and then check next to Rickey and up to nine others based on who simply belongs.

Then I will mail it back in the self-addressed, stamped envelope that also was included in the larger manila envelope. It has a 42-cent stamp on it. In 1936, when the first Hall of Fame class was inducted, the price of that stamp was three cents. But baseball goes on, and so does this process of baseball writers determining the Hall of Famers as their eligibility arrives.

You’re a Hall of Famer or you’re not. If you’re borderline and require tomes of reasoning and comparisons, you’re not a Hall of Famer. Make sure you get to Cooperstown if you haven’t lately, because that’s what this is all about. See the Gallery room with other baseball fans from all over, and let it guide your thinking.


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