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One man's proposal to fix the Hall of Fame voting

Jan 8, 2010, 2:19 PM EDT

My buddy Jason at IIATMS has a rule:  you can’t complain unless you offer a solution.

Terrible rule. If I followed it I would be deprived of all kinds of self-satisfying complaining. Ideas are hard. Bitching cleanses the soul.

But he lives by it, and because of that he decided to come up with a proposal to fix Hall of Fame voting.  His proposals seem eminently sensible.  I’m curious to hear what others think.

  1. Old Gator - Jan 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    Far too sensible for reality in this dimension. Maybe over in Mr. Mxyzptlk’s ‘brane this would work, but here? Naaaahhh.
    I have an alternative suggestion. Each year, you pick a warm day and take the same number of box turtles as you have nominees, stick a tag with each nominee’s name on it on top of each turtle’s shell, line them up at the far end of a bocci court and drag a strawberry ahead of them to entice them to run to the other end. First turtle to get to the strawberry, that guy is elected.
    At the very least, that would free us from another year of Bert Blyleven’s puelling and pleading. And unless he can figure out how to keep his verbal anxiety barfing to himself, it would probably increase his odds of getting in exponentially.

  2. Ross - Jan 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    I like Jason’s proposal. I would also like to add that if you don’t vote for anyone, you have to have some defensible logic. For instance, it’s possible in a given year that someone doesn’t think any of the eligibles are worthy. Not saying this is likely, but it’s possible. But the voter who does this better not have voted for any of the eligibles in any previous year. If they have voted for previous eligibles, they should immediately lose their voting privileges. Otherwise, it should count as an abstain and not count against the total number of votes. That still wouldn’t have gotten Bly in this year (400/534 = 74.91%), but there is no perfect solution.

  3. michael standish - Jan 8, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    I notice that no one wants to talk about the Boston sportswriter who got so drunk that he kissed his wife and beat up his pet HOF candidate with a shovel.

  4. Darryl - Jan 8, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    Love Jason’s proposal. This year’s voting was a travesty.

  5. Philip P. - Jan 8, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    With such a large number of voters, what if there was a rotation in which a specific voter may only receive a ballot every so many years (i.e. one vote every three years). It is possible that the writers would be less likley to either waste a vote on a player (i.e. Eric Karros) that is clearly not a hall of famer simply because they liked them and want to see them stick on the ballot while also eliminating the practice of never voting for someone their first time on the ballot (i.e. Alomar). While such a rotation would create significant fluctuation to specific player results it might be the trick to at least produce some consistency, reflection and proper analysis on the part of some voters.

  6. Gelardia - Jan 8, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    A) Fans & former player should get a vote. Make it 1/3 writers, 1/3 fans & 1/3 former players.
    How many times have we seen a player finally get in after 5, 7, 10 tries when the fans have been screaming for the player to get in since year 1? If a player can illicit that kind of love from the fans, that should count for something.
    Sure, some guys are jerks (Randy Johnson) and some never spoke much to the press (Eddie Murray) but their teammates loved having them (or at least their production) on their team. Bert Blyleven is a perfect example. Did he have a shitty attitude towards a coach that wanted to take him out of games or was he a fierce competitor who left his body & soul on the diamond? Ex teammates & players who played against him could offer some insight into that.
    B) Make an absolute stat benchmark for getting into the Hall. Sure we hear that 300 wins or 3000 hits or X number of home runs will get you in but that’s always open to interpretation. If a player played his entire career in Colorado, his home run total is under scrutiny because of the thin air. If a player gets 300 wins but was taken out of the 6th inning in every game for a closer, he could be passed over for a guy with 250 wins but had a high percentage of completions. I’m not saying that guys that don’t reach these statistical benchmarks shouldn’t get in, but for those who do, it shouldn’t even be a question*. The asterisk is for known career cheaters, either they don’t get in automatically for reaching the stat benchmarks or the Hall makes a cheaters wing and puts in McGuire, Bonds, Sosa, Pete Rose, Gaylord Perry, etc.

  7. Innocent Bystander - Jan 8, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    OK, Craig, you asked for it. Keep in mind I am a “small Hall” guy:
    1-No Veteran’s Committee. If the writer’s say NO, then it’s NO. You shouldn’t get in because you have a friend on the board who lobbies for you. This is the HOF! Not Washington politics. It shouldn’t be compromised as easily some Senator from .
    2-No Pete Rose – ever. If a writer ever listed him, he should be barred from voting in the future.
    3-75% is too low to get in. That’s a “C”. Raise it to 80%…maybe even 85%.
    4-Similarly, move cutoff to remain on ballot up to 60%. Any lower and you’ve failed. Also, limit the number of tries to 10 years. 15 is too many. It’s longer than a lot of HOF careers.
    5-(This is my best idea.) ONLY 2 people (max) get in each year. That’s it. If people get 99% and 95%, and you get 92%…TOO BAD. You get to try again next year. So you’ll probably make it the next year or the year after, right, so what does this accomplish? Well, if you only got 81%, you might get pushed to the next year 10 times and never get in. The group being voted on would keep rolling and it would be much tougher. It would be a great competition. This would ensure only the best of the best. 2 guys per year equals the number of guys who were the best at their position in their league during their era.
    6-Guys can be voted out. Say Cal Ripken or Derek Jeter (or whoever “Mr. Nice Guy”) makes it in and someday in the future they find out what a scumbag he is. Stick him on the Vote Out ballot. They could have a plaque removal ceremony where all living HOF get to piss on it at homeplate at Doubleday Field.
    So, what do you think?

  8. Moses Green - Jan 8, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    I like most of Jason’s ideas, but I don’t think you can do both 1 and 3, for me term limits would effectively solve the credentialing issue. With the rumored imminent demise of newspapers, do you really want to kick guys out as their papers fold, while they’re looking for work?

  9. Moses Green - Jan 8, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    The Gator took one of my first responses to this on the whole though, hmmm … how eminently reasonable, therefore it will never happen. Thank you for trying though, unlike old Howie Bryant, who likes things old and jacked up. Cuz he’s used to it that way. So he likes it. Cuz he’s used to it that way. So he likes it. Crap I never should have had that Steven Seagal Cherry Lightning Bolt.

  10. TimberLee - Jan 8, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Bill James, in his book originally titled “The Politics of Glory”, detailed a complicated process for Hall of Fame voting that he hoped would result in more reasonable election results. As I recall, there would be several steps involving various groups of voters (including fans) and it may be more cumbersome than it’s worth, but it’s interesting. The whole book is interesting, for that matter.

  11. Chris Simonds - Jan 9, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    I disagree with Craig. I think Jason’s primary rule – can’t complain unless you offer a constructive solution – is excellent. God should have included it in the commandments. It would have spared me the agony of every unsolicited “conversation” I’ve ever had to slog through, while trying to have a quiet drink in an otherwise friendly bar. Amen.

  12. Tony A - Jan 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    I like all of Jason’s proposals except the term limits thingie. Never thought much of term limits, and the ability of the senior member council to vote the slag off the island takes care of keeping the voter pool limited to people that take the job seriously. The only concern I can see is if, somehow, the senior member group managed to accumulate a majority of people who thought like “innocent bystander”…

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