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Two simple changes to the Hall of Fame ballot

Jul 20, 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

cooperstown

We usually reserve all of our Hall of Fame arguing for late December and early January when we can devote sufficient time to the obnoxiousness that requires, but any time is a good time really.

Today Jim Caple has a suggestion to improve the process:  (1) eliminate the 15-years-on-the-ballot rule; and (2) eliminate the if-you-don’t-get-five-percent-of-the-vote-you’re-dropped rule.

I’m definitely in favor of the second one, as I’ve never understood its purpose.  If we can see players go from very little support in the early years of their candidacy to ultimately being elected, why does it matter how low their vote total is in the early years?  If they simply have no support, they won’t be clogging anyone’s ballot for multiple years and eventually even the hardcore voters will stop voting for lost causes.  Make it like, a bunch of years with sub-five percent before doing it.  Who knows what make us reevaluate someone’s candidacy over time?  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk about Lou Whitaker now?

I’m not as sure on the 15-year thing, because it can prevent someone getting moderate though not overwhelming support from clogging things up.  We’ll see this more in the coming years when half the voters refuse to vote for the steroid guys and gridlock results.  Still, I’m not adamant in opposing such a thing and could be persuaded because there still is an arbitrary feeling to the rule.

This would all be fun to debate.  Too bad the folks that run the Hall of Fame never seem all that interested in joining in that debate.

  1. bjavie - Jul 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Given the caliber of 50% of the Hall of Fame, until Dale Murphy is voted in it will always be meaningless in my eyes. No Craig, I’m not a Braves fan. Phillies.

    But when, in your particular era, were battliing every year for the home run crown with the likes of Schmidt and Dawson and you received back-to-back MVP awards, were a seven time all-star, and won 5 gold gloves, you are a Hall of Famer in my book.

    Saw a dude on TV many years ago saying that had Murphy hit 400 home runs, then most likely yes. Really?? Two more home runs? TWO?!?!

  2. Chipmaker - Jul 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    How about culling the deadwood from the electorate? Retired writers and columnists, editors who never watch a game, and so on. The right to cast a Hall ballot probably shouldn’t be a lifetime vestiture.

    • natstowngreg - Jul 20, 2011 at 1:42 PM

      To the limited extent I actually pay attention to HOF voting, I’ve been bothered by the exclusion of announcers from the electorate.

      I understand that announcers are usually hired by their teams, and that could create the appearance of bias. But more biased than some guy who has covered that same team for years? Not sure about that.

      On balance, it just strikes me as odd that the Hall of Fame doesn’t use the expertise of guys who have been watching the game day-in and day-out for a long time. Yes, cull the deadwood from the writers’ electorate, but also find a way to give Vin Scully a vote.

    • clydeserra - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:46 PM

      only send ballots to” Basement c/o writer’s mom’s house.”

  3. Chipmaker - Jul 20, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    Thinking a bit more — if dropping the 15-year window means that all but the very olde-tymiest players would be taken away from the Veterans Committee, this would be a good thing.

  4. Loren - Jul 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I think the real change that needs to happen is getting rid of the limit of only voting for 10 players. especially with the glut of steroid guys that will be sitting there as Craig mentioned.

  5. theonlynolan - Jul 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    +1 for a Sweet Lou Hall of Fame nod.

  6. lampdwellr - Jul 20, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Echoing Bill James in “Politics of Glory,” you can’t do either of these things without eliminating the 10-vote rule. It’s hard enough as it is to get votes to cluster around deserving people. The 10-at-a-time rule shouldn’t be there anyway, given that the question on any player is “Hall: Yes or No?”

  7. girardisbraces - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Honestly, there needs to be fewer HOF voters. Irrespective of the 10-vote rule, it’s a task that’s routinely bungled by writers and columnists due to personal biases. What other reason is there that we’ve never had a unanimous Hall of Fame election? Surely the criteria by which one’s career is judged is not THAT grey. There should be a board, a la the Veterans’ Committee – or maybe in place of it? – that votes on the candidates.

    Or maybe the ballots from the writers should be just the first step in the process, and subject to a final review and vote by a committee.

  8. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    Who cares what Jim Caple wants or things, he’s like the rush limbaugh of sports writers. Lots of noise but anyone with an IQ over 90 doesnt care what he says.

  9. ezwriter69 - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Oh swell, let’s make it so that the people who actually SAW someone play have less clout than those who look at the stats and sabermetrics and decide 20 years after the fact that someone’s a HOF’er… like Blyleven, who was NEVER considered a great pitcher during his career, would NEVER at any time in his career have been considered among the five best pitchers in basball, yet the stats geeks eventually retroactively decided he’s an all-timer. If someone gets less than five percent of the vote by those who remember him best and most clearly, they don’t belong in the HOF. And if you only get in after most people don’t remember seeing you play, ditto. The thing that makes the baseball HOF special is how exclusive it is, it is NOT the hall of very good, it is truly the only HOF that is for GREAT players only… or it used to be. Thanks to the sabermetric stat geeks, the Calcaterras of the world, it is becoming less so all the time.
    Don’t further de-value the baseball HOF, it is the one Hall that truly sets the standard of greatness.

    • clydeserra - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      For realsies?

    • cktai - Jul 20, 2011 at 3:19 PM

      I always think its funny that people don’t realise that “sabermetric stat geeks” probably watch more baseball then your average HoF voter.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 20, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      like Blyleven, who was NEVER considered a great pitcher during his career, would NEVER at any time in his career have been considered among the five best pitchers in basball, yet the stats geeks eventually retroactively decided he’s an all-timer

      Quick question, do you think Jack Morris is a HoFer? What about Mariano Rivera? Guess what would happen if you combined both of their careers into one mega pitcher?

      http://www.platoonadvantage.com/2010/12/blyleven-vs-morris.html

      [hint, they STILL WOULDN'T BE AS GOOD AS BLYLEVEN. Worse ERA, less K's, and more BBs]

      • IdahoMariner - Jul 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        that was awesome. thanks for the link.

    • lampdwellr - Jul 20, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      Fortunate for you that the stats geeks, as a community, don’t have a vote. Writers, who DO have a vote, voted him in. There is such a thing as underrated, and Blyleven was – if your sentiments are accurate – consistently underrated.

      “Great” players only: this is not in dispute. It is only the standards for “great” that are ever in dispute. Fortunately baseball is quite a measurable game so we have a way to determine who was great.

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