CURTRIGHT: Steroids era takes joy out of Baseball Hall of Fame voting

Voting on the National Hall of Fame used to be a welcome reward for being a long-time baseball writer, an honor into itself.

Now, there is no joy in it at all. Just heartache.

Blame the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs beginning in the 1990s for that.

Who did and who didn't? For the most part, we will never know for sure and what was the impact on the game.

That makes voting on the Hall of Fame an almost impossible task.

It is almost as if the media is being punished for its own culpability for not being more suspicious at the time.

Each year, you get to vote for as many as 10 of the candidates. I voted for five -- Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff and Larry Walker.

They weren't the best five on the ballot as far as statistics go. But they were the five I felt comfortable voting for at this time.

The directions for voting include the mention of integrity, sportsmanship and character.

I could feel comfortable with the five names I checked.

Of course, none of them were voted in. No one was.

Unfortunately, this was Murphy's 15th and final time on the ballot. Morris has one more chance.

Next year, the ballot is even more loaded with the addition of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, among others. That means that Morris and my others will have an even tougher time. That is why I was sure to vote for them this time.

I may some day have a change of heart and vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. They would be no-brainers without the PED issue.

I doubt I will ever change my mind about sluggers Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa, who were pure products of the steroid era. It's the same with Rafael Palmeiro.

Suspicions kept me from voting for Mike Piazza on the first ballot, but I probably will next year. Jeff Bagwell may eventually get my vote.

I didn't vote for Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio for a reason other than PEDs. I just didn't think they weren't worthy of going in on the first ballot, which I consider a special honor.

The writers also elected no one in 1996, 1971 and 1967, but living veterans' committee choices were part of ceremonies those years in Cooperstown.

This year, there will be no honoree present on July 28. Unfortunately, maybe that is fitting.

Daily Post staff correspondent Guy Curtright, a longtime baseball journalist, is a Baseball Hall of Fame voter and a member of the Atlanta Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.