Judgment day for Bonds, Clemens, Sosa at Hall

NEW YORK (AP) — Judgment day has arrived for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa to find out their Hall of Fame fates.

With the cloud of steroids shrouding many candidacies, baseball writers may fail for only the second time in more than four

decades to elect anyone to the Hall.

About 600 people are eligible to vote in the

BBWAA election, all members of the organization for 10 consecutive

years at any

point. Results were to be announced at 1 p.m. Wednesday, with

the focus on first-time eligibles that include Bonds, baseball's

only seven-time Most Valuable Player, and Clemens, the only

seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

Since 1965, the only years the writers

didn't elect a candidate were when Yogi Berra topped the 1971 vote by

appearing on

67 percent of the ballots cast and when Phil Niekro headed the

1996 ballot at 68 percent. Both were chosen the following years

when they achieved the 75 percent necessary for election.

"It really would be a shame, especially

since the other people going in this year are not among the living,

which will make

for a rather strange ceremony," said the San Francisco Chronicle's

Susan Slusser, president of the Baseball Writers' Association

of America.

Three inductees were chosen last month by

the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before

integration in 1946:

Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded

catcher Deacon White. They will be enshrined during a ceremony

at Cooperstown on July 28.

Also on the ballot for the first time are

Sosa and Mike Piazza, power hitters whose statistics have been

questioned because

of the Steroids Era, and Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list

with 3,060 hits — all for the Houston Astros. Curt Schilling,

11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in postseason play, is another ballot rookie.

The Hall was prepared to hold a news conference Thursday with any electees. Or to not have one.

Biggio wasn't sure whether the controversy over this year's ballot would keep all candidates out.

"All I know is that for this organization I

did everything they ever asked me to do and I'm proud about it, so

hopefully,

the writers feel strongly, they liked what they saw, and we'll see

what happens," Biggio said on Nov. 28, the day the ballot

was announced.

Jane Forbes Clark, the Hall's chairman, said last year she was not troubled by voters weighing how to evaluate players in

the era of performance-enhancing drugs.

"I think the museum is very comfortable with the decisions that the baseball writers make," she said. "And so it's not a bad

debate by any means."

Bonds has denied knowingly using

performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of

obstruction of justice for

giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating

PEDs. Clemens was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from

congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.

Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times

reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

The BBWAA election rules say "voting shall

be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity,

sportsmanship, character,

and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

"Steroid or HGH use is cheating, plain and

simple," ESPN.com's Wallace Matthews wrote. "And by definition, cheaters

lack integrity,

sportsmanship and character. Strike one, strike two, strike

three."

Several holdovers from last year remain on the 37-player ballot, with top candidates including Jack Morris (67 percent), Jeff

Bagwell (56 percent), Lee Smith (51 percent) and Tim Raines (49 percent).

When The Associated Press surveyed 112

eligible voters in late November, Bonds received 45 percent support

among voters who

expressed an opinion, Clemens 43 percent and Sosa 18 percent. The

Baseball Think Factory website compiled votes by writers

who made their opinions public and with 159 ballots had everyone

falling short. Biggio was at 69 percent, followed by Morris

(63), Bagwell (61), Raines (61), Piazza (60), Bonds (43) and

Clemens (43).

Morris finished second last year when Barry

Larkin was elected and is in his 14th and next-to-last year of

eligibility. He

could become the player with the highest-percentage of the vote

who is not in the Hall, a mark currently held by Gil Hodges

at 63 percent in 1983.

Several players who fell just short in the

BBWAA balloting later were elected by either the Veterans Committee or

Old-Timers'

Committee: Nellie Fox (74.7 percent on the 1985 BBWAA ballot), Jim

Bunning (74.2 percent in 1988), Orlando Cepeda (73.6 percent

in 1994) and Frank Chance (72.5 percent in 1945).

Ace of three World Series winners, Morris finished with 254 victories and was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. His 3.90

ERA, however, is higher than that of any Hall of Famer. Morris will be joined on next year's ballot by Greg Maddux and Tom

Glavine, both 300-game winners.

If no one is elected this year, there could be a logjam in 2014. Voters may select up to 10 players.

The only certainty is the Hall is pleased with the writers' process.

"While the BBWAA does the actual voting, it only does so at the request of the Hall of Fame," said the Los Angeles Times'

Bill Shaikin, the organization's past president. "If the Hall of Fame is troubled, certainly the Hall could make alternate

arrangements."