The most-prized possession in my life is my Baseball Hall of Fame vote.
Yes, it means more than anything I ever obtained in this world - even my Masters Degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.
Although prestigious, many have that sheepskin hanging up in their home office or buried in a draw somewhere. But few, and even fewer as time goes on, have the right to vote the greatest baseball players ever into the only Hall of Fame that matters.
Think about it. There are more than 300 million people in the United States. Yet, less than 500 people -- just 10 of whom are African American -- have a vote after being issued a membership card from the Baseball Writers Association of America after 10 consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage. For sure, it's not easy to obtain.
The ballot for the Class of 2014 was mailed out last week. Voters have a month a make their selections.
RELATED: MLB'S 2014 HOF CLASS WAS ANNOUNCED
Sadly, it seems as if many of my brethren have lost their way. They no longer vote the best of the best in. They are so caught up on punishing this Steroid Era that they have overvalued previous players that simply don't belong.
In doing so, they are almost doing more damage to the American Pastime than the players who used performance enhancing drugs. They've blurred the lines, skewed the facts and now use that new math we never adopted 40 years ago in this country.
They are wrong, dead wrong.
They only thing worse than not putting in players that clearly belong - Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa - is putting in players that don't belong - Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven and Goose Gossage.
It shouldn't take you 15 years, the full length of your eligibility, to be voted in. You're numbers don't change after you retire, so how in the world could writers votes change over the years?
It makes no sense. Either you're a Hall of Famer or you're not. The first-ballot, second-ballot, third-ballot stuff is dumb. My way of voting is simple: If there's a debate about you being in the Hall of Fame, you AREN'T a Hall of Famer.
Go ahead. Debate me on Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams or even Tom Seaver.
You can't. There is no argument. Their careers weren't very good. They were great.
It's not the Hall of the Very Good. But that's where some voters have taken it.
The Steroid Era can't be ignored or treated as if it didn't happen. It did.
Check the record book. Bonds is the all-time home run hitter. He also won seven MVPs. Clemens won seven Cy Youngs. A skinny McGwire still has the rookie record for home runs with 49. The same McGwire who once hit 32 HRs in 67 games in a single college season. Yes, he was a slugger long before he bulked up.
Some writers want to be judge and jury. They want to vote on suspicion, not based on facts. It's not our job.
If the New York Yankees' and Boston Red Sox's championships and all the wins and losses count for teams with players that allegedly used PEDs during this untested drug use history in MLB, then all the statistics by these players all count.
And it's from those numbers that you are supposed to vote for the Hall of Fame.
Either nothing counts from the Steroid Era or everything counts. You can't fudge it, or pick and choose what numbers you want to say are legit.
Worse than that is the obvious eye-test that writers have ignored. If you can honestly look at Bonds and Clemens from the early days to until the end of their careers and don't think they are Hall of Famers, you have no clue when it comes to greats of the game.
It's not like we're talking about Brady Anderson getting enshrined from one super season out of nowhere.
Shame on baseball writers who think they are the game's police, the men supposedly believe they are fixing what's wrong.
In reality, they are doing the damage, killing a Hall of Fame that won't mean a hill of beans without some of the greatest players who ever played in it.
I refuse to go along, ignoring what I saw while making Cooperstown more and more irrelevant every year.