NEW YORK — Theres a chance the podium under the chandeliers in the gold-and-ivory-colored Vanderbilt Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel will go unused.
With the cloud of steroids shrouding the candidacies of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others, baseball writers may fail for the only the second time in more than four decades to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame, rendering a news conference unnecessary.
About 600 people are eligible to vote in the BBWAA election, all members of the organization for 10 consecutive years at any point. Results will be announced at 2 p.m. today, with the focus on first-time eligibles that include Bonds, baseballs only seven-time Most Valuable Player, and Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
Since 1965, the only years the writers did not elect a candidate were when Yogi Berra topped the 1971 ballot at 67 percent and when Phil Niekro headed the 1996 ballot at 68 percent. Both were chosen the following years.
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 Chronicles 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 ODay 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 Sammy 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.
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).
If no one is elected this year, there could be a logjam in 2014. Voters may select up to 10 players.
Dodgers get lefty Howell
Left-hander J.P. Howell and the Los Angeles Dodgers have finalized a $2.85 million, one-year contract.
The 29-year-old reliever was 1-0 with a 3.04 ERA in 55 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season and held left-handed batters to a .200 average (17 for 85).
A-Rod surgery Jan. 16
Alex Rodriguez is scheduled for hip surgery on Jan. 16. The New York Yankees third baseman could be sidelined until the All-Star break because of the injury.
LaRoche stays in Washington
Adam LaRoche has agreed to a two-year deal for the Washington Nationals.
LaRoche hit 33 home runs with 100 RBIs for a team that had the best regular season record in the majors.
The deal means the Nationals will be expected to try to trade Michael Morse, who played outfield last year but would have moved to first base if LaRoche had not re-signed.
Indians sign Kazmir
The Indians have signed free agent left-hander Scott Kazmir, 28, a three-time All-Star, to a minor league contract.