This is the time of the year that people think that I am a dope along with 500 or 600 of my colleagues.
Last year at this time, we all took a beating. They thought we had the IQs of members Honey Boo Boo’s family. They thought we had the judgment abilities of someone who had 27 beers for lunch. They said mean, mean things about us. We were the lowest forms of life in the world. We were scum. And that was a kind description.
What did we do that was so wrong?
We didn’t vote anyone into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Yes, I am one of the lucky few to have a Hall of Fame vote. I paid dearly to get it. I had to cover the Cubs 10 straight years. More than 1,000 games. But I have it.
So the other idiots and myself had the audacity not to vote anyone in. And we took a pounding.
The 2014 announcement was made yesterday, Wednesday, and it came after our deadline. But with people like Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine, I can safely say we didn’t pitch a shutout this year.
There are probably a few people that wonder why their favorite eligible players did not make it and still think we’re a bunch of goofballs. But let me at least explain the process.
You need 75 percent of the vote to get in. Three out of every four. Think about it. It’s hard enough to get more than 75 percent of your pals to agree where to have lunch. And to vote for something as important at the Hall of Fame?
Last year, there were 37 ex-players on the ballot. There were 569 writers who turned in a ballot. They are allowed to vote for up to 10. They could vote for 10. They could vote for three. Some vote for zero. Those are the people who get ripped on the hardest.
Throw in the fact that the list includes players who were suspected of using steroids and some who were rumored to have used them and that throws the whole thing out of whack.
We are talking about more than 500 people of different ages and different backgrounds trying to figure this thing out. My criteria is different than some geezer who claims we’re a bunch of sissies and, by God, back in the good old days, he would have punched a player in the nose or slammed him against a locker if that player didn’t grant an interview.
My criteria is also different than someone who is voting for the first or second time who looks at me like I’m a geezer.
And it’s not like we are in some big smoke-filled room arguing back and forth for who should get in or not. We’re scattered across the country sitting in our homes in December trying to figure it out.
Finally — and most important — it’s a vote. A vote is personal. A vote is done with some research and with some gut feelings. It’s imperfect.
This is the first year I actually voted for 10. I usually top out at six, seven or eight. So, in alphabetical order, here are my choices: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine. Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Larry Walker.
Yes, some of the heavy steroid suspects such as Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and others are off my list. The beauty is that if they get more than 5 percent of the votes, they can stay on the ballot for 15 years. So we can always change our minds on these guys if something comes to light in the next decade or so.
People may think that the criteria is too tough to get in and maybe they are right. But can you think of another hall of fame that has this much interest and passion? You rarely hear about controversy, outrage or much interest in general about the football, basketball and hockey halls.
So congratulations to those who made it. Those who didn’t? Life goes on, guys.
That goes for the fans, too.
How in the world could I have forgotten this?
After last week’s column on my 12 favorite TV shows was published, Reporter reporter Bob Rakow named a few shows that were good and mentioned “The Paper Chase,” which was a show about a variety of students in law school who had the mean Charles Kingsfield (played brilliantly by John Houseman) as a contracts law professor.
So my dozen favorite shows just became a baker’s dozen.