Those who have been following our Baseball Hall of Fame coverage here on CBS Sports know that we have collectively lamented the 10-man limit on each ballot for the better part of a month and this year isn't unique. It's a problem Dayn Perry has covered in much greater detail.
For me, it doesn't make sense most of all because the intent is out of whack. I'm not going to go crazy and vote for 15 candidates just because I can in seven years when I have a vote. I have a standard and some years 15 guys will meet it while others maybe only five will meet it.
As the ballot has stood the past several years -- thanks, in part, to that ridiculous empty BBWAA Hall of Fame class in 2013 and to the infighting over the so-called Steroid Era -- it's been bloated. Cases can be made for upwards of 17 players on the ballot to be Hall of Famers.
In order to prove that this won't always be the case because my standard is way too high, we're gonna peek a few years into the future. The ballot looks likely to start clearing out come 2021.
We've got ourselves a four-man class, with Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman gaining enshrinement. Andruw Jones, among others, has fallen off the ballot, gaining less than five percent of the vote.
Holdovers (15): Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez, Fred McGriff, Scott Rolen, Jeff Kent, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones
Newcomers: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt
Rivera and Halladay likely make it in on their first try while Edgar Martinez is either in or out on his last try. This is also McGriff's last go-round and it looks like Mussina has enough momentum to make this another four-man class: Rivera, Halladay, Martinez, Mussina. With McGriff falling off, five spots have been cleared from the holdovers and it's possible we add zero. We'll call Helton a maybe.
Holdovers (13): Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Walker, Vizquel, Ramirez, Rolen, Kent, Sheffield, Sosa, Wagner, Jones and maybe Helton.
Newcomers: Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Paul Konerko, Alfonso Soriano
Jeter is our only newcomer that'll get in, I think, while Abreu seems a Rolen type that could linger. I'm pretty sure by now Schilling is going to get there, maybe Bonds and Clemens, too (imagine the personality mix of a Jeter-Schilling-Bonds-Clemens mix). Let's conservatively say that it's just Schilling and Jeter, though (along with Mussina if I was wrong about 2019). Also, this is Walker's 10th and final year, so he's either in or off the ballot. Three are cleared and we only added one maybe to the holdover list.
Holdovers (12): Bonds, Clemens, Vizquel, Ramirez, Rolen, Kent, Sheffield, Sosa, Wagner, Jones maybe Helton, maybe Abreu.
Newcomers: Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle, Torii Hunter, Aramis Ramirez
As you can see, the newcomers in this class had very good careers that fall short of Cooperstown.
However you think about the cases of the list of holdovers (10 names with two "maybe" options), I think we can all agree the backlog is gone. You can argue for and against the cases on the list, but we're back into a good debate instead of hand-wringing about the limit.
Perhaps Bonds and Clemens make it this time while voters warm to Manny. Maybe Vizquel, Kent and/or Rolen will have gained enough momentum. It's possible Wagner gains enough steam after several years of having seen Hoffman inducted before him. Some might want to create a case for Jones, Helton or Abreu.
The main takeaway is, with all the ballot clearing that has been done in the previous years, we'll have finally gotten to the point for the 2021 election to stop complaining about the 10-vote limit and can instead focus on the candidacies of the players in question.
While we're here ...
Newcomers: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz