Voting for the Hall of Fame is one of the great privileges we earn as baseball writers. To earn the right, you have to have covered the sport for at least 10 consecutive seasons. Since I started covering baseball full-time in 1984, it's become more challenging as we now begin to consider players who may have been part of the steroid era.
Nevertheless, while all voters have a different method to how they weigh players for the Hall of Fame, and there's be occasional controversy over a borderline candidate, for the most part the system has been a good one. And for the most part, the right players get in.
Here's my ballot:
1. Roberto Alomar - One of the top five or six second basemen ever. An easy choice. The spitting incident was a mark on his character, which is an important part of the voting, but most voters will forgive. He was a magician with the glove as his 10 Gold Gloves will attest.
2. Bert Blyleven - A lot of wins (287), big strikeout totals, not-so-great run support on bad teams, all go into Blyleven having a great chance to get in this time.
3. Andre Dawson - By the time he got to Boston he was really beat up, but the work he did to prepare his ravaged legs just to step out on the field reminded me so much of Bill Buckner. It showed me how much these guys loved playing baseball. Aside from that, Dawson was a splendidly gifted, eye-popping player before injuries slowed him. Like Jim Rice, this guy swung the bat and wasn't concerned about OBP.
4. Barry Larkin - Great character player and gifted all-around shortstop who amassed terrific seasons including his 33-homer, 36-stolen base season in 1996 and his MVP season in 1995. He made 12 All-Star teams.
5. Alan Trammell - Have always voted for Trammell and never understood why so many others didn't. The tangibles were his excellent offense at the shortstop position, and he was a steady glove man. His intangibles were his leadership, the respect everyone on the field had for him. Trammell may never get in, but at some point the Veteran's Committee needs to take a long, hard look at both he and DP partner Lou Whitaker, who was off the ballot way too soon.
6. Jack Morris - A throwback, gutsy, big-game pitcher. I often ask players of that era who they would want pitching the biggest game of any season - and the majority answer was Morris. When I was talking to people about Andy Pettitte's possible Hall of Fame credentials down the road, Buck Martinez said, "Not before Jack Morris gets in."
7. Tim Raines - Indeed the second-best leadoff man ever. A former batting champ, a .385 OBP, 808 stolen bases (90 swipes in 1983). A .294 career hitter with 2,605 hits.