Burning the Deadwood

So I see that the Hall of Fame leadership is again “fixing” the Hall voting. This time they’re calling out those writers who have no contact with baseball writing in the last 10 years and telling them they can’t vote in the next Hall of Fame election. Of course they’re not really banning them, because if the about-to-be-banned guy (or gal) can show some work that is baseball related they can get back in the good graces of the Hall and continue to vote. Apparently this would entail writing a piece for your local semi-weekly rag that says “The Hall of Fame is a great place. Go visit, people.”

This is the second change in as many elections. The first cut the number of years a player could be on the writer’s ballot from 15 years to 10 years, with guys (read Tim Raines here) already over 10 but not yet at 15 being grandfathered on. It’s supposed to cut the backlog on the ballot.

OK, I guess I applaud the Hall for the changes. I’ve argued that a lot of people voting for the Hall aren’t currently up to date on the sport and probably shouldn’t vote. I’ve also argued that if you can’t get in the Hall in 10 years you probably shouldn’t be elected by the writers. So hooray, I think.

Why is it I have a problem with all this? Maybe it’s because the “fix” is kind of smoke and mirrors. If a writer is about to lose their Hall of Fame vote, they can do something to get back into good graces. I know the Hall specified it had to be more than lip service, but guess who gets to determine what lip service means? Give you a hint–the place is located in Cooperstown. No hard, fast rule that says exactly what allows a writer thrown out of voting back into the fold. That strikes me as a problem.

Going from 15 to 10 years? As I said before, I’m all for it. But then there’s the little matter of the Veteran’s Committee taking up the players. I guess all this means that the Vet’s Committee gets to start looking at a particular player five years earlier. I realize that allows the writers to kick the steroid guys down the road quicker and thus wash their hands of the entire issue and era, but it’s going to come up again, team.

So “Yippee” for the Hall, I guess. I just can’t get all that excited about the changes and that’s kind of sad because they were changes I advocated. Am I just too hard to please?

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6 Responses to “Burning the Deadwood”

  1. Miller Says:

    Interesting take. I’m more pleased with this change than you are, v. Will it get rid of 50 writers? Surely not. But I think it will get rid of some. And I suspect many of those people will be among the least informed voters.

    Further, I’d guess that if the Hall is making this rule to remove less qualified voters, I don’t imagine they’d want to keep someone around just because s/he writes something about the Hall at the 9 year, 11 month mark.

    I’ve been accused of being too hopeful about the Hall in the past, but this change strikes me as no-lose. Just because it’s not an excellent change doesn’t mean it’s not still a plus. Even if it’s just a small one.

    And regarding the 10 or 15 years. Bert Blyleven and I thank the Hall for not changing that rule sooner.

  2. wkkortas Says:

    I thinnk part of the problem with the Hall’s voting system is the ballot itself; I can’t imagine you need to have the Mike Timlins and Tony Womacks of the world on the ballot because they meet the mininum requirements for enshrinement. The Hall needs to do something more like the NFL and whittle the ballot down to a manageable number and then have a simple up or down vote for each player on the ballot, which I think would lessen the Jack Morris/Dom Mattingly issue hand-wringing and voting machinations. Given the institution’s history, I’m not convinced they could do this effectively. As far as the recent changes, I join you in a lack of enthusiasm in terms of this being a real fix, but realizing you have a problem is a step toward a solution, at least one hopes.

  3. Gene Says:

    I like the idea of weeding out some of the writers no longer involved in the game. However, I’m a little concerned about the 15-10 change, simply because I think there are quite a number of guys coming up that probably should get in but won’t because they’ll get overshadowed by the big names. I would be more in favor of that change if they allowed the writers to vote for a few more players.

  4. William Miller Says:

    I have to go along with Gene that since 15 years has now been dropped to 10 (which I support), then they should allow the writers to vote for more than ten players at a time. Otherwise, the backlog will simply fall on the Veteran’s Committee to review in the future, and their record isn’t very impressive.
    I also agree with you that if they are going to remove those writers who haven’t even been interested in baseball in years, there should be more specific rules governing which writers can go and which ones can stay. Otherwise, like most other things about The Hall, it just becomes one more subjective, arbitrary process which will satisfy no one.
    But at least they’re trying, I guess.
    Cheers, Bill

  5. Gary Trujillo Says:

    I think we need younger and fresher voices/voters due to different morals and popularized statistics. The dinosaurs of the game should just quietly go away. Most seem to hold onto their HOF voting credentials for something to talk about at cocktail parties.

  6. Steve Myers Says:

    I don’t think you’re too hard to please, just a fan who cares a tremendous amount about the HOF. And I know this isn’t much of an argument, but at least it’s still humans voting and not a machine.

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