It’s early January? It’s Dale Murphy time again.

The Baseball Writer’s Association will continue ignoring Dale Murphy for the Hall of Fame when it releases this year’s voting later today. I will continue writing posts supporting Murphy’s candidacy. And like every year, I will recycle each year’s format and quote the sanity of Jayson Stark.

And the forgotten stars of the ’80s keep on coming. No player of his generation has been more outspoken about the steroids era than Murphy. And, sadly, it’s possible that no great player has had more damage done to his candidacy by that era — and its inflated numbers — than Murphy, either.

His 398 homers and that .469 career slugging percentage look downright ordinary nowadays. But remember, this is supposed to be about what these men did in their era. And back in the ’80s, Murphy led all National Leaguers in runs and hits, tied Mike Schmidt for the most RBIs and finished second to Schmidt in home runs. He also was a back-to-back MVP, a five-time Gold Glove winner, a proud member of the 30-Homer 30-Steal Club, a guy who once got more All-Star votes than anyone else in the whole sport and one of the classiest clubhouse citizens ever.

Every voter who votes against Mark McGwire should be required to vote for Murphy. Otherwise, the ballot is nothing more than a forum for bias and moral preening.

Actually, the ballot is already about that. It shouldn’t be, but the evidence tells the truth. No one admits it. Nor do they acknowledge the logic of what Mr. Stark wrote about Jim Rice’s candidacy in the same column. He could’ve written it directly about Murph, as well, as I have many times.

I keep waiting for the backlash against the steroids era to start working in the favor of players like Rice. It hasn’t happened yet. But backlash or no backlash, we’re supposed to be comparing players to other players in their time, not anybody else’s time.

That’s the only criteria for statistics.

I can’t wait to see how many writers botch it this year. Not that it matters. Murph is in his tenth year of eligibility. He has five years left after this vote. Many worthy players trend to election as their eligibility wanes. Goose Gossage is the current example. And Murph reversed his downward slide last year, so Hopefully Murph will start to get more respect. But I don’t believe he’ll ever reach election via the writers. The process is too subjective and in the hands of incompetents. His only hope rests with the Veterans’ Committee. I don’t know how much hope to place in that, but his chances can’t be worse there.

Go Murph!

Update: I’ve fixed one inaccurate sentence, since Murphy’s vote total declined last year. However, he received 75 votes this year, up from last year’s 50!