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updated: 1/9/2013 8:07 PM

Always one Hall of a debate on who gets in, who doesn't

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  • In this June 18, 2004, file photo, the Cubs' Sammy Sosa tosses his helmet and shin guard after striking out. Sosa was on only 12.5 percent of the ballots cast for this year's Hall of Fame.

    In this June 18, 2004, file photo, the Cubs' Sammy Sosa tosses his helmet and shin guard after striking out. Sosa was on only 12.5 percent of the ballots cast for this year's Hall of Fame.
    Associated Press


Not a single player received enough votes to earn induction into baseball's Hall of Fame this year, and Sammy "The Samminator" Sosa didn't even get within light years of Cooperstown.

No big deal.

What really matters are the debates that rage.

For example, you disagree with my votes for confirmed or suspected steroids users, and I respectfully disagree with your disagreements.

What great fun all this is.

Think of society's liveliest disputes and discussions.

We're talking Republicans or Democrats, foreign or domestic, Florida or Arizona, Coke or Pepsi, Batman or Superman. Superman or Spider-Man, Spider-Man or Rubber Band Man.

Among the best in sports are Brady or Manning, Manning or Manning, Ruth or Aaron, Aaron or Bonds. Hull or Mikita, Wrigley or Comiskey, Comiskey or U.S. Cellular, Da Coach or the Red Army.

The World Series of debates, however, is any involving any candidate for baseball's Hall of Fame. One person's winner can be another person's loser.

I was conditioned for criticism long before the steroids issue surfaced. Ron Santo fans designated me Cublic enemy No. 1 for not voting for him when he was on the ballot during the 1990s.

Reggie Jackson also understands the passions over Hall voting after being condemned by some and commended by others for comments last year.

Jackson was banished briefly from his job as a Yankees consultant because he had the audacity to suggest Alex Rodriguez's career is tainted by steroid use. Certainly it is, though eventually I'll vote for A-Rod.

Jackson also remarked that Kirby Puckett and Gary Carter, two dead Hall of Famers, don't belong in Cooperstown. My ballots disagreed on both.

Don Sutton and Phil Niekro are 300-game winners who are in and Jackson doesn't think either should be. I concurred on them.

Each case is individual. You and I might be on different sides this year and the same side next year.

No player ever received 100 percent of the votes. Babe Ruth didn't. Sandy Koufax didn't. Nobody did, not even Kevin Orie.

Tom Seaver garnered the largest percentage at 98.84. Even while winning in a landslide, five of the 430 voters weren't impressed enough to vote for him.

About 20 years ago over dinner in a North Side restaurant, after a game and several cocktails, a table of sports writers talked Cooperstown.

One didn't think Hank Aaron belongs in the Hall of Fame. Honest. He made his case without making sense but remained firm in his conviction.

The dissenter's point was that Aaron never had that one historic signature season. His 755 career home runs came in a steady stream that this particular critic didn't think qualified him for Cooperstown.

That's the thing about the Hall. Every baseball fan -- voter or otherwise -- has an opinion and personal criteria.

Some go solely on what they saw. Some go solely on statistics. Some go solely on the recommendation of others. Some go on the player's character. Some go on the player's personality. Some go on some of the above. Some go on all of the above. Some go on none of the above.

A Chicago Magazine article last summer wondered whether Paul Konerko is a Hall of Famer. About the same time, Mark Buehrle's chances were discussed on the radio.

I say neither is worthy yet but might be later.

But remember, as Winston Churchill said, "If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary."

For the record, Winnie didn't vote for Sosa.

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