Today a random rumblings, Hall of Fame edition. As per usual, after reading this please leave plenty of your own opinions and comments:
* The so-called steroid era is a mass of confusion to me. It is undefined, subjective and talk of it creates many more questions that actual answers. It creates a wealth of strong opinion and spirited debate, which is interesting, but very few absolute facts. It makes each Hall voter judge and jury and that is what a vote is, I guess. You decide what you think and how you vote.
Without researching each player known and/or suspected to have taken performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), that whole era is blur to me. Which players did what and which didn't? Here is one of the toughest questions of all: If a player did take PEDs, how much did it help them? How can any of us, including the actual players themselves, truly know this answer? Would Barry Bonds have hit as many homers without the PEDs most believe he took, and how many pitchers that he homered off also took PEDs?
Trying to get a handle on all this and how it impacts someone's actual voting must be a tough task for any voter.
"At some point the credibility of the Hall of Fame is going to come into question when some of the greatest players are not elected," ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said. "I've had to come to the realization that the Hall of Fame is not a church. It's a museum that chronicles the history of the game. It is not a holy place that is open only to those who have distinguished themselves on and off the field."
* It has become clear that there is an unwritten rule that a first-ballot Hall of Famer is considered by many voters as the best of the best, the head of the class. Clearly, many players, in the minds of the voters, are good enough to be included on their ballots, just not in their first year of eligibility.
* The Baseball Hall of Fame remains a pretty exclusive club and it's not easy to get in the door. In my opinion, I prefer this to allowing five or six to get in each year as other sports do.
* Mike Mussina will be on the ballot next year. I don't have a vote, but I think I would vote him in. I feel that the fact he pitched during the steroid era is a plus for him. It makes his stats look even better if he was facing hitters that took PEDs. Mussina may not be a first-ballot inductee, but I think he should eventually get in.
Then the question becomes should he be inducted as an Oriole or Yankee. That decision is made by the Hall of Fame's senior staff and not the player. Mussina had better stats as an Oriole. He made 40 more starts as an Oriole than a Yankee and had a better ERA, winning percentage and WHIP with Baltimore. He also had many more complete games (45 to 12) and shutouts (15 to eight) as an Oriole.
When Mussina made the Orioles Hall of Fame last March, I asked National Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horne about the process that determines which team a player represents in Cooperstown.
"If someone's career is split between two or three franchises, numbers alone do not necessarily tell the story of where the greatest impact was made," Horne said. "The process is, once an individual is elected, and only at that time, does the Hall of Fame begin the process of which team is represented on the plaque. The individual is elected in January, but not inducted until July.
"The senior staff of the Hall makes that determination. The numbers are a big factor, but also intangibles come into play, as well things like awards and postseason. Sometimes, the process is resolved in a matter of hours. Sometimes it can take a couple of months before we are ready to announce the decision."
In a non-Hall of Fame note, click here to see the Orioles winter ball stats. And yes, Pedro Florimon and Robbie Widlansky are no longer in the organization.