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updated: 1/9/2013 4:59 PM

Sosa takes his 'lumps' in Hall voting

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  • Former San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds, left, former pitcher Roger Clemens and former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa didn't get enough votes for entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Sosa was far behind Bonds and Clemens.

      Former San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds, left, former pitcher Roger Clemens and former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa didn't get enough votes for entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Sosa was far behind Bonds and Clemens.
    Associated Press/File

 
 

It came as no surprise to me that no one gained election this year to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Over the last few weeks, as votes from the BBWAA became public, I had been checking the trends multiple times each day. Early on, it appeared the BBWAA would pitch a shutout this time around.

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Craig Biggio came closest, falling 39 votes shy as he got 68.2 percent of the 75 percent needed for election to Cooperstown.

But for Chicago baseball fans, there was one huge result, and it has long-term implications.

No longer can the general perception be that former Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa is "lumped in" with pitcher Roger Clemens and outfielder Barry Bonds.

All three players have been linked with baseball's so-called Steroids Era, and until Tuesday, many had joined the three in the same group.

No more.

Clemens came in at 37.6 percent while Bonds polled 36.2 percent. Sosa? A meager 12.5 percent.

While opinion is mixed on whether Bonds and Clemens will eventually get in, Bob Costas summed things up on the MLB Network Tuesday when he said: "Sammy Sosa is never going to get in."

It appears Costas is right. As I posited in a recent column about Sosa, it seems voters believe Bonds and Clemens were Hall of Fame player before their names became linked with performance-enhancing drugs. Those same voters apparently felt Sosa was not a Hall of Famer before his name was linked to PEDs.

What it means for the future is that Sosa is likely finished as a Hall of Fame candidate along with Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire.

As I also pointed out, the Cubs have not done a thing on Sosa's behalf as far as the Hall of Fame goes. To my knowledge, Sammy has not even been invited to the Cubs convention while such players as Mike Bielecki are annual attendees. By contrast, the late Ron Santo's election by the Veterans Committee was a huge deal for the Cubs.

Time will tell as far as Bonds and Clemens go. As Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson pointed out on a conference call after the vote was announced, "the snapshot in time is not one year, but 15."

In other words, players who gain at least 5 percent of the BBWAA vote may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years. As more information comes out or if players such as Bonds and Clemens speak up, voters may reconsider.

Because of the steroid question, this year's ballot became perhaps the most controversial of all time. Although some baseball observers, including many in the sabermetrics community, would like to see the voting process changed and the electorate expanded to include others, the Hall of Fame seems more than happy with the BBWAA.

"It's evident the voters took this exercise probably more serious than another other ballot they've filled out," said Idelson, who added he believed the writers did their "due diligence" and "voted their consciences."

None of this is going away, and the voting will become even more problematic beginning next year, as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina are joined on the ballot by former White Sox great Frank Thomas.

Although some voters have bemoaned the voting process nowadays, all I can say is: Bring it on.

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