This a (longish) fascinating read from Jayson Stark on how he filled out his Hall of Fame ballot this year. I think everyone interested in the hall and the steroid debate should give it a read.
He explains why he voted for each person on his ballot as well as the top five left off. It's interesting to see how someone like him handles the steroid question.
He also has a nice part about Dale:
"The last-timer: Dale Murphy
I'll be honest. If I were ranking the 15 players I wanted to include on this ballot, Dale Murphy wouldn't have made the top 10. But I've been voting for the guy for a decade and a half. Couldn't stop now, when he's in his 15th and final lap around the track.
I can't ever remember a player who has had a stranger voting history than Dale Murphy. In his first three elections, when nearly everyone voting on him had seen him play, he averaged 101 votes. In his next six, he averaged 55.
In 2000, he got more votes (116) than Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris. By 2004, he was down to 43 and almost dropped off the ballot. Bizarre.
By last year, Murphy was back up to 83 votes -- his most in 11 years, for some reason. And this winter, as Jerry Crasnick wrote last week, his entire family has mounted a heart-warming campaign for him that raises one truly meaningful question:
Why is the character-and-integrity clause being applied only as a negative, to justify votes against the Mark McGwires of the earth? Why can't it be a reason to vote for a man such as Murphy, one of the great baseball citizens who ever occupied any clubhouse?
Like many Murphy supporters, I would like to have seen a longer period of dominance. But I still see an eight-year stretch (1980-87) when this man ranked first, second or third in the entire sport in runs scored, home runs, extra-base hits, intentional walks and total bases. He got MVP votes in seven of those eight seasons and won twice. In that eight-year span, he and Andre Dawson were the only two players in the 200-Homer, 100-Steal Club and the only NL outfielders who won five straight Gold Gloves.
That's an awfully long time for any player to hang around the who's-the-best-player-in-his-league conversation. Long enough, at least, to justify casting one final vote for a player whose stature still exceeds the total accumulation of his numbers."