You know what will bug me the most if Clemens returns? By taking himself off the HoF ballot this winter, he increases Jack Morris' chances.Damn. I hadn't thought of that -- and I was just thinking the other day about how great it was that the crazy ballot this year basically would kill off Morris. He certainly would be a terrible selection...the worst since, what, Tony Perez? Perez was in 2000...since then we've had Andrew Dawson, who for me was right on the line, and also Kirby Puckett and Jim Rice. Puckett and Rice? I think they were poor selections, but I guess they were in some ways more excusable than Morris. He, like Perez, is purely a creation of circumstance and luck in the way we tabulate things; if pitcher's wins had never been invented, no one would think Jack Morris was a HOF candidate.
The thing about the HOF, at least from the point of view of the fans, collectively, is that it's much more important to keep the bad choices out than to ensure that the good ones get in, at least in the short run. I mean, yes, it was too bad that in 2005 the Hall didn't have Ron Santo, Bert Blyleven, and Goose Gossage, but those mistakes have now been fixed. It's much more of a problem that the Hall in 2005 had, I don't know, Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers (who is beginning to look like a really significant error), because nothing has been done or will be done about it.
(Of course, from the point of view of the players, that's not true, since every year you're not in is a year in your life that you're not in, up to the point of posthumous selections which presumably you can't enjoy yourself).
Anyway, I think we're still probably safe from Morris even if Clemens isn't on the ballot, but it will make it somewhat more likely that they'll screw this one up. Remember, there are six HOFers new to this year's ballot: Rocket, Bonds, Piazza, Biggio, Sosa, and Schilling. It's hard to believe that Morris gets more votes than he did last year, even if only five of them are there.
Looking...the guy who really will be killed off this year is Palmeiro. Hard to believe there are a lot of people who would put Palmerio ahead of Bonds, Piazza, Clemens, or Biggio, right? Sure, I can imagine someone who voted for Dale Murphy but not Bonds. Palmeiro? Nope. I suppose I can imagine someone who puts Palmerio over McGwire, though...I wouldn't, but I can imagine both good and bad arguments for it. I suppose there might be a few writers who won't vote for Bonds for personality and not steroid reasons, and therefore might support Palmerio, but that can't be a big group, right? Anyway, he only got 13% of the vote last year, and it wouldn't surprise me if that totally collapsed this year. He's the guy who should be rooting for the Rocket to return.