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Rosenthal: BBWAA membership is too bloated

Jan 8, 2010, 11:30 AM EDT

Ken Rosenthal doesn’t mince any words when it comes to the Hall of Fame electorate:

Our membership is too bloated, too riddled with voters who do not take
the process seriously enough to educate themselves properly . . . Virtually every voter I know is honored to participate in the process.
Virtually every voter I know considers the ballot a tremendous
responsibility. It’s the voters I don’t know — the ones I never see at
ballparks — who worry me. I fear that some do not give the candidates
the consideration they deserve.

The BBWAA has done a fine job in
recent years of adding Web-based writers, including several whose work
is strongly influenced by sabermetrics. The next step is to go the
other way, trim the fat from the membership, purge those who do not
study the game closely enough to warrant Hall of Fame votes.

The other day I was talking to someone about my “the BBWAA should be ashamed of itself” talk. His response was that it was a bit harsh for me to paint with such a wide bush because, after all, most writers did vote for Blyleven and most did vote for Alomar.  My response: you’re right, you can’t tar all the writers. But you can do is tar the organization collectively due to the fact that the electorate is simply too bloated and way too many votes are cast by people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

I’m glad to see that Ken Rosenthal (and Pete Abraham and other working baseball writers) feels the same way.  As Rosenthal notes, you have a lot of editors and assistant editors who get a vote, most of whom don’t have watching, researching and/or writing about baseball anywhere in their job description.  There is at least one political cartoonist in there.  It’s a cast of hundreds too many.

The BBWAA has managed to get the postseason awards pretty close to perfect the past couple of years using an electorate of people who actually watch and write a lot about baseball. That’s probably too small a pool to handle something as large as Hall of Fame voting, but I’m thinking that the ideal voting group should be a lot closer in size and expertise to the awards voters than it is to the current anyone-who-once-arguably-wrote-about-baseball-and-is-not-yet-dead crowd.

UPDATEBuster goes one better: After noting that there’s an inherent conflict of interest involved in writers voting in the first place, he argues the writers shouldn’t vote at all. Make the Hall of Fame come up with their own committee since it’s their thing anyway.

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