NEW YORK (AP) — Fewer than 500 people get a vote, but most every baseball fan seems to have a vehement opinion on who belongs in the Hall of Fame.
With the election results on deck, a look at what to watch for when the newest members of Cooperstown are announced today at 6 p.m. EST:
JUNIOR'S JURY: Ken Griffey Jr. takes his first swing at a truly huge number — will he break the record for the highest voting percentage ever? Tom Seaver set the bar at 98.84 percent when he was picked on 425 of 430 ballots in 1992. About one-third of the voters revealed their choices early, and www.bbhoftracker.com said they all listed Griffey. What would hurt his chances? His last 10 years were injury filled, resulting in no seasons with 100 RBIs and just one over .300.
JUICED UP: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa haven't come close to getting the required 75 percent for induction. Tarnished by links to steroids, they're almost certain to get shut out this time, too. Yet they could get a boost because about 100 retired writers have lost their vote. There's an assumption — not proven — that a younger electorate might take a different stance on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.
CLOSING TIME: Trevor Hoffman is second on the career saves list with 601 and clearly ranks among the best relief pitchers ever. Even so, the early returns show him falling short in his first try. Why? Only a handful of relievers have been enshrined, and Hall voters don't quite seem to have a handle on how to evaluate modern-day closers. Mariano Rivera will have no such worries when he's eligible in a few years.
THE TWEENERS: Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines all drew over 50 percent in the last election and figure to be knocking on the door this time. Raines might be the most curious case. The leadoff man was among the game's most dynamic players in the 1980s and had perhaps only one major fault — he wasn't as good as Rickey Henderson.
PETE AND REPEAT: Every year, Pete Rose gets a couple of write-in votes. They don't count, of course, because he's not allowed on the ballot. Commissioner Rob Manfred recently rejected Rose's appeal to overturn a lifetime ban for gambling. The career hits leader still has his sympathizers, but at 74, it's getting harder and harder to imagine he'll ever see his plaque hanging in the Hall.