At 2 p.m. ET today, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson will unseal the contents of a large envelope and make the announcement to all baseball fans that is his annual winter custom.
This time, there will be more people watching than ever before.
The results of the much-anticipated 2013 ballot will be announced exclusively on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com as part of a three-hour announcement show beginning at noon ET on that day. The Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot features 37 candidates, with 24 newcomers, including Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa, along with 13 holdovers from previous elections, such as Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.
It is a ballot loaded with marquee names and Cooperstown-worthy statistics, and the big question in multiple cases is whether one's mere body of work on the field could speak louder for voters than the implicit subject of performance-enhancing drugs. A former player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote for induction.
The topic will be an ongoing discussion each day on MLB.com leading up to the announcement, including analysis during daily Hot Stove video programming and in around-the-clock stories by MLB.com reporters and columnists. There are 16 Hall voters on the MLB.com staff, and you can monitor the site over the next week to see ballot reasoning from many of them, such as Richard Justice, Tracy Ringolsby, Hal Bodley, Mike Bauman, Terence Moore and Paul Hagen -- the senior correspondent who will receive the prestigious J.G. Taylor Spink Award at the induction ceremony for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."
Network coverage of the announcement will include interviews with electees and will be anchored by Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny and newcomer Heidi Watney, along with Bob Costas, Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds, Kevin Millar, Spink Award-winning baseball writer Peter Gammons, and Hall of Fame voters Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci.
MLB Network will air a special Hall of Fame Debate show at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, featuring a panel discussion of the ballot on the eve of the announcement. The panel will include Costas, Leiter, Reynolds, Verducci, Sports on Earth
senior columnist Joe Posnanski and SiriusXM sports radio host Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.
Take a good look at the Sights and Sounds on MLB.com's special Hall of Fame page, as many videos already are posted, featuring interviews with candidates and highlights of their careers. All the Hall headlines are being archived there as well.
After the announcement is made, Hall of Fame coverage and reaction will continue with live discussion throughout the rest of the day on MLB.com, and with ongoing analysis on MLB Network's "Intentional Talk" and "MLB Tonight" shows starting at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
If any former players are elected by the BBWAA voters, then MLB.com will stream the live news conference on Thursday, the day after the announcement is made.
Umpire Hank O'Day, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th-century catcher and third baseman Deacon White were elected to the Hall of Fame in December by the Pre-Integration Era Committee. O'Day, Ruppert and White will be inducted along with any candidates who might be elected by the BBWAA.
Tom Cheek, who called the first 4,306 regular-season games and 41 postseason games in Blue Jays history, was posthumously selected as the 2013 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting.
The 2013 ballot marks the 70th Hall of Fame election held by the BBWAA. The induction ceremony can be viewed on MLB Network and MLB.com.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.