I needed to take the week off from playing competitively to attend US Nationals, so I thought I’d use the off week to talk about my Hall of Fame selections. As a Level 5 Judge, I’ve had a HoF vote every year, and every year I try to publicly discuss who I’ve voted for, who I haven’t voted for, and why.

There were three home runs for me this year, one name that I was sad to leave off the ballot, and the ever-present reminder of the “Not Ever” candidate.

My criteria are relatively simple: demonstrate a sustained high level of play at the Pro Tour and GP level (with the PT taking a front seat) and demonstrate a reasonable level of sportsmanship. I didn’t, for example, previously vote for Randy Buehler, because while I can’t deny his record (not to mention other contributions to Magic), I didn’t feel as though his PT career was long enough. He was the Addie Joss on my ballot (although Joss eventually got into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the old-timer’s ballot). Although it’s far more subjective, it’s my opinion that HoF candidates also have given back to the community in some fashion, whether it’s the long-term involvement as a TO and judge of a Rob Daugherty or the personality that transcends the game, like Jon Finkel.

First of all, although it pains me some, I’m not putting Antonino De Rosa on my ballot. I love him dearly, il mio nipote preferito. He’s a great ambassador for the game, loads of fun to be around, and a top-shelf player, but his Pro Tour resume simply isn’t up to snuff. I hope he starts playing again and does well, because I’d love to one day be able to punch the De Rosa ticket.

Onto my picks:

Home Run #1: Antoine Ruel

His resume is clearly impressive, especially the 18 GP T8s to go with his 4 at the Pro Tour. One of the things that clinches this vote for me is that he was awarded the 2006 Judges’ Sportmanship Award. His brother may be more well known as a comedian, but for my money, Antoine’s wit is sharper and quicker.

Home Run #2: Scott Johns.

In addition to his 5 PT Top 8’s, Scott has been an influential voice in Magic, first as editor of Brainburst, then moving over to Wizards of the Coast. If he hadn’t taken the job in Renton, we’d probably be talking about closer to 10 Top 8’s. We also share a love of food and wine, so there’s that.

Home Run #3: Kamiel Cornelissen

His Magic mind is second to few. He was Lou Gehrig to the twin Babe Ruths of Finkel and Budde, with back-to-back second place finishes in two different formats. Every time he played, there was the obvious threat of him showing up on Sunday. Kamiel was also always one of the most polite and sporting players in the history of the game.

Double Off the Wall in Deep Right Center: Steven O’Mahoney-Schwartz

In addition to be one of the best guys to ever sling spells, Steve OMS was one of the dominant players in the early days of the game. He took a long time off, and came back with a vengeance, which to me is the hallmark of a great player–a deep and abiding understanding of the game at its atomic level. He was another guy who was always a threat to be playing on Sunday. If you need further convincing, just consider that Jon Finkel agreed to be his teammate on Team Antarctica. He had nearly every player in the game to choose from, while bonds of friendship are strong, being a great player is stronger.

Line Shot Up the Middle: Frank Karsten

A great ambassador for the game, a highly-respected writer, and one of the best personalities the game has known, Frank Karsten is the every man of Hall-of-Famers, a tribute to a remarkable work ethic coupled with great understanding of the game. His never-say-die attitude was never more in evidence than at Pro Tour Geneva, where he played the entire event with a case of food poisoning (complete with carrying around a bucket, just in case), still finishing 38th. His median finish of 47 ranks among the best of the best.

Some Fly Balls to the Warning Track

Justin Gary–if he doesn’t make it in this year, I will most likely vote for him next, but I can only put five people on the ballot, and he seems to be 6th man this time around.

Chris Pikula–I appreciate especially Mike Flores’ compelling arguments, but his resume falls short. He’s certainly one of the guys I’d love to see back around on the Pro Tour.

William Jensen–one of the most entertaining guys to be around, but again, I think the resume doesn’t make the grade. Definitely worth honorable mention. Could be on a future ballot.

Mark Justice–his resume was impressive, especially given the fact that he didn’t have GPs buff his numbers, but he just didn’t do it long enough.

Nicholas Labarre–One of the quietly extremely good players in Pro Tour history, and a great deck construction mind.

Mike Pustilinik–Because everyone loves Mikey P!

Called Third Strike

Mike Long. Not ever.

I’m sure my picks will generate a few “how could you not vote for”, or “you’ve obviously suffered some brain damage because you picked” It will be interesting to see your comments.

I’ll be back from Nationals and playing next week. Hopefully I’ll be able squeeze in a constructed event as well. I’ll see you then on “We Play Too.”