I truly agonized over whether to vote for players connected to PED use, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. I even considered abstaining from the process, like two long-time baseball-writing colleagues whom I have great respect for, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer and T.J. Quinn of ESPN
So here are the nine players who got my vote:
Jeff Bagwell: I donít get the steroids talk now that his career is over, because he drew little or no suspicion when he played. Regardless, heís a Hall of Famer in my book and has been since the day his career ended.
Barry Bonds: Questioning the legitimacy of his home run record is certainly fine and dandy, but he is the greatest player I have seen in my 48 years on Earth, and it was a privilege to cover him for five seasons from 1988-92 when he played for the Pirates.
Roger Clemens: These achievements canít be misremembered: a record seven Cy Young Awards, seven ERA titles, five strikeouts titles and 11 All-Star Game appearances.
Edgar Martinez: Iíll say it again: designated hitters are people, too, and he was the best one ever with a .312/.418/.515 triple-slash line that was as pretty as his swing.
Rafael Palmeiro: An extremely reliable sourceówith no ties to Palmeiroótold me an off-the-record story at the Winter Meetings that convinced me that Palmeiro was indeed a clean player and was tricked into using the steroid when he thought he was taking a shot of vitamin B-12 that led to his suspension and end of his career in 2005. Unfortunately, there would be too many legal ramifications to make the story public.
Mike Piazza: Granted, he did have a lot of acne on his back, but he was the greatest offensive catcher ever.
Curt Schilling: Everyone knows he was one of the gameís great post-season pitchers but he was also pretty darned good in the regular season.
Alan Trammell: This is a classic example of why players can stay on the ballot as long as 15 years if they gain at least five percent of the vote. I didnít vote for him in his first 11 years on the ballot but have changed my mind after considering he played the most difficult position on the diamond (shortstop) and won four Gold Glove and three Silver Sluggers while helping redefine the position with his offensive prowess. Raines fans, there is your hope!
Larry Walker: The critics can say he was a Coors Field creation and too fragile, but Iíll say he had a 141 OPS+ with a triple-slash line of .313/.400/.565 in 8,030 plate appearances