The Baseball Writers' Association of America released its Hall of Fame ballot today, and now the next six weeks will be filled with debate on whether some of the biggest names -- and most controversial characters -- will get into Cooperstown's hallowed halls.
Players on the ballot for the first time include a few stars that were embroiled in the sport's steroid controversy: namely Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and former Orioles outfielder Sammy Sosa.
Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling also are first-timers, joining popular holdovers such as Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris and Tim Raines on the ballot.
Voters can choose up to 10 players per ballot, and, based solely on accomplishments, there are at least 10 guys who are arguably Hall-worthy.
But more goes into it than stats. Just ask former Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who has more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs and one failed drug test. He was named on just 12.6 percent of ballots submitted last year, his second on the ballot; he needs 75 percent inclusion to receive enshrinement.
Palmeiro, Sosa, Lee Smith and Raines are among 30 some players on the ballot -- many of whom have Orioles' ties. Smith, the Orioles' closer in 1994, has the best chance of eventual induction. He was named on 50.6 percent of ballots in 2012, his 10th year eligible (Players can stay on for 15 years assuming they are included on at least five percent of the ballots. They have to be out of the game for at least five years).
Here are the former Orioles who made it onto the ballot -- you need at least 10 seasons to be considered: Smith, Raines, Palmeiro, Schilling, Sosa, David Wells, Steve Finley, Jeff Conine, Jose Mesa.
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