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Hall of Fame to reduce the waiting period from five years to three years?

Jul 25, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

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Kevin Kernan at the New York Post passes along word that the Hall of Fame is considering cutting the waiting period for induction from the current five years after retirement to three years.  It’s not a done deal or even a deal in progress. If it were, it would be in press release form as opposed to said in passing in a Kernan column, but it’s pretty neat to think about anyway.

The assessment-train moves a lot faster than it used to. We start arguing about whether someone is Hall of Fame worthy as soon as they retire now, so five years seems kind of long. Heck, we start talking about it before they retire. Anyone over 35 who goes on the disabled list tends to get the “if their career is over now, are they a Hall of Famer?” treatment.

I can’t really see a downside to this. It’s not like two extra years are going to change our opinion of Derek Jeter or anyone to whom the new waiting period — if enacted — would apply.  And besides, if the Hall realizes that it can change stuff without the walls crumbling down, perhaps they’ll start changing some things that actually matter.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Wasn’t part of the reason so that nobody gets voted in then comes back and plays again? I thought that was a big thing in the NFL HoF…that coaches who are already in there came back and coached, which the NFL HoF wasn’t too happy about.

    • gammagammahey - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      The Hockey HOF let Gretzky and Lemieux bypass the waiting periods and then Mario decided to come back and play again. Then they said they’d never let that happen again.

      Rickey Henderson was talking about trying to get back on with an MLB team right up until the day he was inducted into the HOF. I think he was still playing unaffiliated ball at least three years after his last major league game, trying to get some team to take a shot on him. He should have given Jack Zduriencik a call earlier this year. The Mariners could probably get better production out of a 52-year old Rickey than they do out of half of their current lineup.

  2. Panda Claus - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Well that’s good news. Now Pete Rose won’t have to wait so long… Oh, never mind.

  3. hittfamily - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    I am not a baseball historian. I took a look at the list, and was pleasantly surprised to find Cum Posey had finally been elected. It is about time.

    And I thought Buster Posey was a funny name.

  4. largebill - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    This is an awful, poorly thought out idea. Chris hits on part of the concern. The other reason for the 5 year delay is to allow better perspective to develop. Beyond that, this is a particularly bad time to entertain shortening the wait. The year after this we will start to have an overload of quality players to consider. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where no player gets the 75% necessary for election. You have some voters who will vote based on the players accomplishments who will use some of their 10 slots on Bonds, Clemens, etc. You will have others who (thinking they have a responsibility to enforce a rule that didn’t exist) will not vote for anyone with any hint of PED usage. Adding other greats to the backlog more quickly will only acerbate the problem. Let Jeter, Rivera, etc play a couple more years and let the 5 years pass and hopefully some of the backlog will have sorted itself out by then. I’ve heard Omar Vizquel is playing until he is 50 to ensure the backlog is gone.

    • bjavie - Jul 25, 2011 at 4:42 PM

      “You will have others who (thinking they have a responsibility to enforce a rule that didn’t exist) will not vote for anyone with any hint of PED usage.”

      What? The use of steroids without perscription has been a federal crime since 1981 and the use of human growth hormone without perscription has always been illegal.

      So how does “rule that didn’t exist” apply? The rules of baseball do not supercede the law of the land.

      Murder isn’t in the rule book either. Should a dude be allowed to murder the SS in an attempt to steal second base???

      • Utley's Hair - Jul 25, 2011 at 4:53 PM

        That depends on the SS, now doesn’t it?

  5. bigharold - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    “The assessment-train moves a lot faster than it used to.”

    As does the “hype machine” keep moving longer.

    I see the point about the HOF assesment discussions starting before players even retire but what is to be gained by changing the time frame? What is the current disadvantage of the five year waiting period?

    It seems like fixing saomething that isn’t broken.

  6. dodger88 - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    I wonder if this is overeaction to the fact that the ballot for 2012 may not yield anyone getting elected. Only Barry Larkin was over 60% amonst returning candidates and the only player of note appearing for the first time will be Bernie Williams, who is not likley to make it especially on the first ballot. If they make the 3 year period take effect by the next vote, perhaps they feel there will be a first ballot candidate. Off the top of my head, both Bonds and Clemens would be eligible but each is likley to struggle getting support.

    Has it always been five years? I like the fact that you can’t make it to the hall and still reasonably expect to return as a player. Jim Palmer tried it and couldn’t get through spring training.

    • largebill - Jul 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      No, it has not always been a five year waiting period. In fact there was no rule you had to be retired at one point. DiMaggio got a few votes while active. Five year wait was instituted in the 50’s I believe. Since then it was waived for Clemente. Can’t remember specifics, but some relaxation of rules was done to allow a quicker election of Gehrig, but I don’t think it was the five year rule.

      • natstowngreg - Jul 25, 2011 at 6:37 PM

        Don’t know the specifics on Gehrig, but it seems that, to consider waiving the 5-year waiting period, dying must be involved. I recall that there was a push for getting Thurman Munson in after his tragic death.

  7. The Baseball Idiot - Jul 25, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Aren’t there more important things to fix first?

  8. lampdwellr - Jul 25, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    This would glut even more guys into already-too-crowded ballots in the short term. I know they’re trying to kick up interest in the inductions, but whatever…the Hall isn’t for short-term interest.

  9. 78mu - Jul 25, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    A solution in search of a problem. It can be waived for a player like Clemente while giving a long enough time to put a career in perspective.

  10. randomdigits - Jul 25, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    So Rice wouldn’t be a member of the HoF with a three year waiting period. Would Blyleven had made it?

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