Category Archives: Hall Of Fame

Fixing The MLB Hall Of Fame Voting Process

The process of the Baseball Writers Association of America voting retied baseball players into the baseball Hall of Fame museum in Cooperstown has become an annual rite of tribalism and silliness for the past several years. The process is broken. Possibly the best evidence of this is the vote of 2013. The ballot featured Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Alan  Trammel, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Kenny Lofton, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez and the BBWAA voted to enshrine….nobody. Jon Stewart’s reaction sums up that announcement well.

Stewart HOF

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You’re Killing Me, Buster: The 2014 BBWAA Hall of Fame Jerk-Off Begins

I like Buster Olney. Good writer. Well connected. Level-headed and intelligent. On the topic of the Hall of Fame vote Buster leads the charge among BBWAA writers with the smarts and balls to say aloud that the way their body has been voting is not serving the Hall of Fame or the players well and is in need of reform. I like all that.

Olney suggested this month that new rules are needed in the vote (Insider subscription required) and he’s right. To an extent. Olney cites PEDs, the billion-pound gorilla in the room, and admits his own inability to determine who used and who did not use, and announces what will probably be his ballot under a paradigm of “who cares about PEDs?” That’s great. And that’s what needs to change, the process determining the vote, not the rules. Continue reading

On Expanding the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Beyond Ten

At 2:00 PM EST today the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the results of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s vote for this years slate of Hall of Fame candidates. No one passed the 75% threshold required for induction. I took my recycling out, and looked at Twitter on my phone as I came back up the stairs, and saw Jonah Keri’s tweet: “NO ONE’S IN. OF COURSE.” I should have been upset, because the BBWAA voting in no one in 2013 is, to put it politely, silly. But I wasn’t shocked. I knew it was coming and had a month to deal with it.

I have been in full-on Hall of Fame Mode the last month-plus, reading by my count 211 different BBWAA members’ columns and tweets about the ballot. It’s well over 211 when I figure in the pieces that were not ballot disclosure by the writers, but just general talk about the Hall process. Plus there are the writers and bloggers I have read who don’t have a ballot and the interesting discussion at BBTF. It’s probably close to 1500 different things, of one kind or another, that I’ve read in six or so weeks.

I’ve been doing all of this while helping update the database of Tim Raines yes and no votes at the Raines 30 site, something I believe in and am honored to have been invited to help on, even if the ‘job’ has left me exhausted. And boy am I exhausted. I can’t read another Hall of Fame piece for a while, and am excited to turn my attention to the upcoming Spring Training (we are under five weeks) and MLB season. I do intend to put a lot more thought into the Hall over the summer, to email BBWAA members about Raines and how I hope he will be included in their future ballots if he is not already, and to write a good deal more about it, but after this little piece I’m done writing about the Hall for a while. More specifically, done writing about the Hall’s voting process.

I think they need to change the whole process. Continue reading

Tim Raines Has Hall Of Fame Character

Ladies and gentlemen of the Baseball Writers Association of America who have a Hall of Fame vote,

I submit to you today a case for Tim Raines’ character. I understand that character is part of the criteria on which the BBWAA as a body asks you to individually vote, and that it is a part of the decision-making process you will undertake when filling out your ballots. Despite the black mark of early-career trouble with drug abuse, Raines’ is a positive story for the Hall of Fame, and can provide a wonderful life lesson for young visitors to the museum in Cooperstown. I’m asking that you vote Raines into the Hall, if character is playing a role in your vote, rather than to not vote for Raines under the notion that his character lacked. I believe that latter notion is wrong, and would like to talk briefly about why I believe that.

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A Humble Proposal Re The Baseball Hall Of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award

I do not support in the least the moralizing, sermonizing, and character-judging being done by BBWAA’s members over the Hall of Fame. It is taking place on their ballots and publicly, as they rush to write columns and post tweets damning players they believe to have used PEDs. “Cheaters,” they are calling them. This year as in the past they will fail to cast ballots that are backed by rational analysis and will instead cast votes rooted in self-righteous disgust. A disgust directed at ex-players who they wrongly believe tarnished something that was spotless.

If Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Jeff Bagwell do not belong in the Hall of Fame because of PED suspicion, then there is a larger group who similarly don’t deserve reward or association with the Hall: the baseball writers.

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Because There Are Not Enough Big Long Rants About BBWAA Sermonizing Over The Hall Of Fame

To get a vote for the Baseball Hall Of Fame? One must cover baseball for ten consecutive years. But then one can stop covering baseball, watch literally no baseball, and retain membership in the BBWAA and a vote for the Hall of Fame. It’s like being a drug addict, I guess: once you’re a drug addict, you’re always one. Nothing can change it.

That policy of inclusion, though, speaks to something incredibly bizarre. It takes a while for the door to open, and then once a new member has stepped through that door, he can slam it closed, locking himself in.

An example of why this is an outdated and inefficient way to determine voter eligibility is Philip Hersh of the Tribune company. Hersh covered baseball for 10 or more years and acquired a HOF vote. But since 1987 he has exclusively covered the Olympics and other international sports for the Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

Hersh has not covered baseball for as long as some people who read this have been alive, but he retains a vote. Phil Hersh did not cover most or all of the following careers: Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, Barry Larkin, Rafael Palmerio, Kenny Lofton, Edgar Martinez, Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens. All of whom are at present on the Hall Of Fame Ballot or were recently inducted. (Also Kevin Brown, who was criminally–criminally I say–excluded from future voting when he received only 2.1% of the vote in 2011.)

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A Brief Thing About Tim Raines and The Hall Of Fame for BBWAA Voters

Let’s call this an open letter to the members of the BBWAA who did not, last year, vote for Tim Raines on their Hall Of Fame ballots. It’s easy–too easy–for some sabermetrically-slanted bloggers, writers and fans to cast a stone and make accusations about intelligence when it comes to stuff like this. This is not going to be an assertion of superior intelligence, or the value of sabermetrics entirely over the value of traditional stats. It’s going to, I hope, appeal to BBWAA members and statheads alike without alienating either, and if just one BBWAA voter reads this, and considers Raines a little closer when he’s filling out his or her HOF ballot, I’ll consider that the best thing I’ve done on this blog outside of having a dumb contest to rename my buddy’s Ottoneu team.

While the “open letter” genre is typically a sarcastic and arrogant piece of mockery full of faux-sincerity best left in the realm of McSweeney’s and hipster kids’ tumblrs, this one is going to be sincere and heartfelt. I certainly hope at least one BBWAA writer–and I apologize for the onslaught of Twitter mentions to draw you here in advance–will have a look and give it some thought.

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