Bonds and Clemens Could Get Second Shot At Cooperstown Later This Year

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By Dan Schlossberg

Rejection by the baseball writers next week is not necessarily the end of line for Hall of Fame wannabes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa.

All are in their 10th and final year on the ballot of the Baseball Writers Association of America but also figure to be on the ballot of the Today’s Game Era Committee when it votes at the San Diego Winter Meetings in December.

Say what?

The 16-member committee, which meets twice every five years, will consider candidates who made their biggest impact since 1988 and did not play after 2007. Those candidates can include managers, general managers, and umpires.

Both the regular and the eras committee elections require 75 per cent of the vote for election. That means 12 votes from a group of electors likely to include incumbent Hall of Famers, historians, writers, and executives.

Not only is the group unlikely to favor the enshrinement of players steeped in controversy but also is limited to a 10-man ballot to be selected in advance by another panel.

And there’s the rub: more than two-dozen solid Cooperstown contenders will bid for spots on the Today’s Game ballot.

Possibilities, in addition to the Big Four from the regular vote, are Fred McGriff, Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Joe Carter, and suspected steroids abusers Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, plus pitchers Orel Hershiser, Bret Saberhagen, David Cone, Kevin Brown, plus reliever John Franco.

Not to be overlooked are managers Bruce Bochy, Dave Johnson, Lou Piniella, and Jim Leyland; owner George Steinbrenner; and umpire Joe West.

Narrowing those names down to 10 will be a tall order. If left to me, the ballot would consist of (in alphabetical order) Belle, Bochy, Bonds, Carter, Clemens, Hershiser, McGriff, McGwire, Piniella, and West.

When the same committee convenes in 2024, Jeff Kent and Gary Sheffield figure to make the ballot — unless either or both surprises in subsequent writers’ votes.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is weekend editor of Here’s The Pitch, national baseball writer for forbes.com, and contributor to Latino Sports, Sports Collectors Digest, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and Ball Nine, among others. His e.mail is ballauthor@gmail.com.

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