The most recent election for the National Baseball Hall of Fame was fraught with controversy. Not only was it the final time on the general ballot for polarizing legends Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but it also featured the ballot debuts of David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, all of whom dealt with cheating scandals during their careers.
While Bonds and Clemens both fell short of getting the 75% of the vote required for induction, the door is not yet closed on their Cooperstown cases. Both will appear on the 2023 Contemporary Ballot, which was revealed on Monday.
Bonds and Clemens will be joined by Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro, Fred McGriff and Albert Belle, all of whom starred from the 1980s through the 2000s.
This ballot is part of the Hall of Fame's yearly eras committee, which rotates every year. These ballots are voted on by select groups of 16 baseball legends and executives, many of whom are already enshrined in Cooperstown themselves. In order to gain induction, a candidate must receive a vote from at least 12 (75%) of those committee members.
That will likely prove difficult for many of the players on the 2023 ballot, several of whom are among the most controversial figures in MLB history. Bonds, Clemens and Palmeiro were all believed to have used performance-enhancing drugs during baseball's steroid era. Off the field, Belle was notoriously unfriendly to the media and Schilling has alienated supporters with offensive remarks on social media.
Murphy, McGriff and Mattingly don't have those same issues, but their Hall of Fame cases are also far less compelling from a statistical standpoint. McGriff might have the best chance, given his impressive total of 493 career home runs -- the same number as Lou Gehrig.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how these players' candidacies unfold and whether any of them can gain entrance to baseball's hallowed halls of Cooperstown.