First, I don't believe in waiting to be a HOFer. Either you're one or you're not (unless advanced stats prove otherwise that highlighted things that weren't known during your career). Second, no rules on how many guys I can vote for. My list is short but it'll have probably more than the average ballot. That said, here we go.
Sammy Sosa: A classic example of somebody who was barely anything noticeable before 1998. A one-time All-Star/Silver Slugger. He had some good power but he wasn't a superstar. All of a sudden, dude becomes a monster masher. 1998-2003: Hello fame, even more power and 60+ home runs three times.
I believe with my full heart Sosa would've been a decent slugger pre-1998. Now? It's clear dude was a creation of the era. No Hall for you.
Mike Piazza: The most popular Dodger of my youth besides Eric Karros and Hideo Nomo. The greatest offensive catcher that I've seen, one of the 1990's best hitters and it's a travesty that he'll be going into the Hall of Fame as a Met probably when he should be a Dodger. Yes, the 1998 trade still has me salty as a fish.
Send him in the Hall right away and I hope he reminds everyone of the great story how he got drafted as a favor to Tommy Lasorda.
Curt Schilling: He's one of the best big-game pitchers of his era. Changed the culture of 2 franchises and won 3 rings in 6 years mostly on his arm. But while everyone is going to focus on what he did with Arizona and Boston, I can't forget what he did in 1993 with the Phillies. The NLCS MVP and a World Series shutout. He's been a G so send him to Cooperstown right away.
Craig Biggio: Here's where it gets funny. As versatile as Biggio was playing outfield and second base, I never thought of him as one of the great players of the 90's. Maybe it was because he played in Houston. I knew of him as a great player but I felt like Jeff Bagwell was the bigger star.
To me, he's a case of where he may not have passed the eyeball test but he earned the stats to get into Cooperstown. Is he a slam dunk? No. But 3,000+ hits, 668 doubles (the most by a righty), 400+ stolen bases says he's a unique player. Guess that matters for something so a hesitant Yes but a yes.
Edgar Martinez: The Hall of Fame voters are biased against Martinez because he was a designated hitter who never saw the field. They're biased against DH guys altogether and they just recently got over closers. Why they screwed over a batting title champ with a lifetime .312 average is beyond me because there's a lot of guys in the Hall who were terrible defenders and quite a few guys who were great defenders but won't sniff the Hall (Omar Vizquel?)
Anyways Martinez was a great hitter and was arguably the best DH of all time. His name graces the award for best designated hitter. If anybody deserves the be the first DH in the Hall, its Martinez. Put him in.
Jeff Bagwell: The last guy on my list. As I said, I assumed Bagwell was the best player in those Houston days. He had great power, that funny stance and to me, he and Biggio were Houston for most of the 90's/early 00's. To me, he was always feared at the plate.
Yet this is where I need to go off on folks. I had NEVER heard his name mentioned with steroids until two years ago and yet somehow respected folks mentioned that they thought he was a cheater. Some folks told me that rumors were lurking in his career but it's weird that it's coming up now with hearsay.
Oh yeah, I forgot the third rule of my list that I alluded to Wednesday. Unless you're proven to have taken steroids or PED's, you're in the Hall of Fame. So since Bagwell never tested positive, he gets my vote and I hope he increases the 56% of the vote he received last year.
I end my HOF ballot with one more name that deserves to go in. He's a man that should've been in years ago as one of the most influential figures in all of sports. Without his brilliance, athletes would not make the money they do and neither would the owners who spited him in his heyday.
I'm of course speaking of the late Marvin Miller. As tributes to him went up, I thought of one of my favorites Curt Flood. Miller tried to sway Flood from suing baseball for his freedom and when he heard Flood's conviction, he backed him up and got him his legal counsel. For that alone, he earned my respect.
A former labor union man, he made the players realize their power and that they brought in fans as much as the team they represented. As we've gone through three non-baseball lockouts in 18 months, I can't help but think Miller would encourage all athletes to not back down and take advantage of what they are worth because of who it'll help later.
Just like the injustice of Buck O'Neil not seeing the day he'd enter the Hall of Fame, it's a shame that Miller won't live to see his name in Cooperstown. But he should be in there.