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Nine Hall of Fame ballots were returned blank

Jan 9, 2012, 4:23 PM EST

cooperstown

There were 573 ballots returned to the Hall of Fame this year. Nine of them came in blank.

Blank ballots vex me. If they are genuine assessments that no one — not one single candidate — on the ballot is worthy, they strike me as evidence of a voter whose standards are unreasonably high and who is possessed of a basic failure of performance assessment and a general lack of understanding of baseball history.  Whether you’re small-hall, big-hall, anti-PED or PED-apathetic, there has to be at least one candidate who appeals to you, right? I mean, Javy Lopez got a vote.

If, on the other hand, a blank ballot is a protest of some kind, such a thing strikes me as evidence that the voter in question is not worthy of his ballot.  You’re a writer: protest in your column. You’re tasked with voting for the Hall of Fame: take your task seriously.

I would like to see voters have reveal and/or explain their ballots publicly in some way. I would truly like to hear why someone honestly believes that a blank ballot is justified.  Because to me it makes no sense.

  1. El Bravo - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    invisible ink?

  2. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    There’s one writer who’s turned in a empty ballot every time he (i want to say she but don’t quote me on it) has been eligible, because (s)he feels that writers shouldn’t be the arbiters of the HoF.

    • caputop - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      That’s stupid. If you don’t think writers should be the arbiters, don’t turn in any ballot; by turning in a ballot you are voting for no one and impacting the outcome.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        Apologies (s)he may not turn in one at all, but the point still stands.

      • caputop - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        No it doesn’t because not turning one in and turning in a blank one are completely different things.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        The point of why (s)he does, ffs.

  3. 78mu - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    These guys think that Ruth wasn’t very good at moving the runner over from second to third and that Ted Williams was overrated because he didn’t steal many bases.

    When the complete player is on the ballot they’ll give him a vote but until then no more of these borderline cases like Seaver or Bench. Of course I think these are the same guys that think Greg Maddux is the pitching coach for the Rangers

    • dan1111 - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      In all fairness, there were no slam dunk players on the ballot this year. I think Larkin, Bagwell, and others deserve induction, but they aren’t exactly Ruth and Williams. They aren’t even A-Rod, Bonds, Manny Ramirez, and other recent big names. I disagree with a blank ballot, but I do think it is a defensible position–assuming it is really an evaluation of the players based on merit, not some dumb protest vote,

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:22 PM

        Yeah I agree. If you’re a small hall guy I can totally understand not voting for anyone on this ballot.

      • 78mu - Jan 10, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        But how many slam dunks are there? You can look at every player and find something missing in their game. And the fact that no one has been a unanimous selection means there are voters that don’t care how good a player has been, they aren’t worthy of their vote.

        And you can’t say they were going to vote for Mays or Aaron or Bench on their second year because they know they’ll never make it to a second ballot (though I can’t understand Berra not making it his first year).

        Obviously when only one player gets 75% there are issues with the others on the ballot. But as with my Ruth and Williams examples, you can find weaknesses in any player if that is what you are looking for. Baseball, with its wealth of statistics, should be the easiest of sports for the voters to examine a player’s case for the HoF but so many seem to go by their memories.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        I would argue if it’s not a slam dunk I don’t think they should be in. And again, just my opinion…everyone has their own hall in their head you know what I mean.

        I would love if players were on the ballot for one year. Either they’re a hall of famer or they’re not. If it takes you 15 years to figure it out they shouldn’t be in. Plus it would stop the nonsense of not voting for players on the 1st ballot.

  4. Jeremiah Graves - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    *sigh*

    …can we just do the HoF voting like a reality show already?! I mean that’s where we’re headed, right?! Just let people text in who should get in, give everyone one week and we can have a big reveal show on FOX or something with an insipid celebrity host.

    It’d be about as legit and worthwhile as the current system.

  5. Jonny 5 - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    I bet all the return addresses read “Arkham Asylum”.

  6. klbader - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Not that I agree with this position, but I think if you are a small-hall voter who relies on more “traditional” methods of evaluation and is anti-PEDs, then the vote is not surprising. I think that a blank ballot is better than a ballot where no one but Javy Lopez got votes. In the universe of different manners of thinking about the hall of fame, how could any ballot be unthinkable?

  7. mattjg - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Philadelphia Flyers beat writer Randy Miller:

    @RandyJMiller: Baseball HOF results coming out at 3 p.m. today. Again, I left my ballot blank because, in my opinion, no one was Hall worthy.

    • kopy - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Wow. Knowing that, it’s pretty funny to read his Twitter feed and see him disparage other voters for all kinds of different reasons.

      • El Bravo - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        That is a threatening level of douchenozzle-i-ness…

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      To be fair, the entire ballot has zero goals, zero assists, and zero PIM between them, so I can’t see how he’d assign any of them any value.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      I honestly had a lot of respect for Miller, but this tweet is just insane…

      “Tim Raines averaging .298 for 12 years is very good, but not great. Had he averaged .318 for those 12 years, I’d have voted for him.”

      Just for that statement alone I can’t respect Miller anymore. Ridiculous.

    • cur68 - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Why are these guys even allowed to vote? Between Dan Mattingly’s #1 Fan and this guy, they make my national pass time’s analysts seem like lazy dunces.

      Hey! Hockey guys! Do some ‘effin research and, if you can’t be a credit to the privileged which was bestowed upon you, at least don’t be a friggin embarrassment…you nitwits.

  8. icanspeel - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    A Blank ballot should be a resignation from HOF voting

    • hep3 - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      Bill Conlin always seemed like a blank ballot kind of guy.

      • dw3dw - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:47 PM

        Conlin famously refused to vote for Nolan Ryan his first year of eligibility as he was worried Ryan might get 100% of the vote. He believed that no one should be elected unanimously.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:24 AM

        I believe that anyone who blatantly ignores the rules should have his ballot taken away. There’s NOTHING in the rules about first ballot.

        This upsets me more than the blank ballots or the throw-away votes for Bill Mueller.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:36 AM

        Actually, here’s why Bill Conlin didn’t vote for Nolan Ryan…mostly, it came down to him averaging a 12-10 record over his career and not having an ERA in the top 100.

        http://amarillo.com/stories/010799/spo_UK5176.shtml

  9. koufaxmitzvah - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    For Hall of Fame day, I’ve been walking around the office with a stick up my tuchus and screaming, “No soup for you!”

  10. theonlynolan - Jan 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    When the voters stop giving a shit about what they’re voting for it becomes evident that the process needs to be changed. Anyone who could look at their ballot and decide to send in blank when there at least 10 players worthy of consideration shows they don’t care about the Gall of Fame. It’s a position that’s impossible to defend and it’s upsetting to those that study the game. I’m disgusted.

  11. indyralph - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Blank ballot translation: “I only vote for big men who hit ball far. But not if they took steroids. Or maybe took steroids. Or gave me a nasty look that one time.”

  12. charlutes - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    At most a blank ballot is silly. I usually dig your writing but the number of anti hall voter articles is becoming a bit much.

    Get a vote or get over it.

  13. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    I’d love to see Bagwell, Raines and Trammell make it.

  14. tartan1 - Jan 9, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    I was under the impression that some writers left ballots blank due to Pete Rose not being a choice.

  15. budha425 - Jan 9, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Maybe they decided that unlike yourself they would like to uphold a sense of integrity when it comes to casting a ballot for what use to be an elite and prestigious honor that is (or at least was) for those who are truly deserving as oppose to voting for an undeserving candidate for lack of better options. Also, they shouldn’t have to answer to you or anybody by giving their reasons why they left their ballots empty. They have a vote and you don’t for a reason. If anybody should have to answer for their decisions it should be the people who put a pretentious @ss in charge of writing $hitty articles such as this one that i wasted 30 seconds out of my life on that i will never get back because i took the time to read it. Go cry elsewhere!

    • kalooz - Jan 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      I’ve always been just a reader and not a commentator, but I had to login just to reply to this. This truly has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Seriously. I am trying to place it in my hierarchy of just downright idiotic comments I have read over the years and I’m pretty sure this comment takes the #1 spot.

      This is his freaking blog. It’s his forum. Did you seriously write Go cry elsewhere? You mean, like, on his own freaking site?

    • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:41 AM

      Well budha. Seems kalooz pretty much said what had to be said. Just to add a few things, next time you comment on here, feel free to say whatever you like, but keep in mind a goodly few of us will reply to you with what we think of your opinions. Now, whatever you think of our opinions on the voting is entirely up to you. But if you think a HOF that contains Ty Cobb is some hallowed, perfect place, and sportswriters are a perfect group and above reproach, weeeeelllll…you need to get outside just a tad more. Oh, and adjust your foil hat, when you do, eh? The cosmic rays are cookin’ the ole bean a little.

    • dluxxx - Jan 10, 2012 at 8:30 AM

      Okay, I gotta add that many of these writers who “have a ballot for a reason” are guys who aren’t even baseball writers anymore. Seriously, the guys of HBT are WAY more plugged in than many hall voters. Take the above mentioned Randy Miller who is a beat writer for *hockey*. That’s right, he’s a hockey writer. What bearing does his opinion have on the baseball HOF? Especially when he submits a blank ballot?

  16. fist72 - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    If a voter believes no one is a hall of famer, why should he vote for someone he believes is unqualified? I saw the whole list and Larkin was very good but not great, consistent but his abilities were not of a player that jumps out and says, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to see Barry Larkin play shortstop.” Next year with Maddux (100% yes and Glavine (80% yes). Remember some voters did not vote for Ricky Henderson. HOF is strange animal.

  17. stevem7 - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Ever notice how the writers are never identified? Sure would be nice if these guys had to justify their votes and explain why they didn’t vote. And the HALL itself should have the integrity to not send ballots ever again to any writer who returns a blank.

  18. scorch22 - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Um, why is there something wrong with a blank ballot? Personally I think voting for people that don’t deserve it is more of a sin than not voting. Its the Hall of fame not the hall of people that played baseball at an average level.

    • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:51 AM

      Yeah…I’m just gonna have to go ahead and inform you that Barry Larkin was not an “average player”. Go to baseballrefs and have a look at how he stacks with awards, all star games, and how he ranks all time for batting and defence. He’s in the top 50 on most stats and in the top 10 on a goodly number. If that guy’s not an HOF player then loads of the guys in the HOF need to be tossed out.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:27 AM

        Even the guys who (I believe) didn’t deserve to be enshrined recently — Rice and Dawson — surely weren’t AVERAGE. That’s just stupid.

  19. Walk - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    The blank ballot has always perplexed me as well. A blank ballot says to me the writer is not objectively considering the players on the ballot and letting personal feelings color their thinking. If you cannot defend why you did not vote for even a single player then in my opinion that vote should be stripped and placed with a writer who is willing to take on the responsibility.

    • scorch22 - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      Why? What is so wrong with thinking nobody from that particular class deserves to be in? It is the hall of fame, that means you earn the right to be in it, you shouldn’t get in just because your the most appealing of people the writer doesn’t think is appealing. What makes the hall of fame so amazing is that it is a place to learn about and see the information of the greatest players of all time, not the greatest player of the guys we haven’t voted in yet.

  20. Walk - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    The problem is not confined to just this particuliar class. Some of these writers repeatedly return blank ballots. These players should be judged by the era they play in. Someone has to be the best of his era even if that era was another dead ball type era. By repeatedly turning in blank ballots these writers are painting a whole generation with their personal biases. Take jeff bagwell for instance. He was easily one of the best of his generation. By not voting for him or returning a blank ballot with no names added that writer is saying none of those players deserve a hof nod. Now there have been all kinds of rumors about bagwell, but they are just that, rumors. What i am saying is that if a writer is going to turn in a blank ballot i want to know why. There may be several votes in a row where thats happens and it is fine but someone will be the best of his generation and the votes should consider just that, the current generation. Comparing players to current hof members is ok for a guideline but if you use those marks for admittance criteria whole generations such as the dead ball era would have been left out. The recent blank ballots, again in my opinion, stinks of willful ignorance and personal bias.

  21. billb09 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    Voters should be known by the public. Not having to step into the light has given them a cloak to hide behind and puts them a place of prominence that they do not deserve. Fans should have some say to who gets to vote or better yet a vote of their own for who gets enshrined in the hall of fame

  22. billb09 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    Keith Hernandez. .298 lifetime, MVP, 11 gold gloves. C’mon man! Captain Keith is a Hall of Fame ball player. He revolutionized 1st base.

    • addictedzone - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      With all due respect to Keith, nine out of ten 1st basemen are at first because they can hit but can’t field. Playing first is the easiest route to a Gold Glove.

      • cogitobaseballergosum - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:40 AM

        And Keith Hernandez was one of that remaining 10% who COULD field. I’ve been watching baseball for over 50 years, and he and Mattingly were the best I’ve ever seen at first base. There have been others, like Wes Parker, who were outstanding fielders, but Hernandez and Mattingly brought an athleticism and agility to the field that I had never before seen in a first baseman, and was worthy of any great infielder. Of the two, Hernandez probably had a little more range, but I have no doubt that either of them, had they been right-handed, could have held their own at any infield position. In fact, I believe Mattingly played a few games at third base in spite of his lefty-ness and did just fine.

        Is Hernandez HOF-worthy? IMO he’s a perfect example of small-hall vs. big-hall. Small-hall, no way. Big-hall, he makes it.

  23. begoodharry - Jan 10, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    Call me old school, but I don’t think any of the current candidates have the credentials to enter the Hall. We need to stop watering down this great honor. With the right to vote comes the right not to vote. I have no problem with the blank ballots.

    • paperlions - Jan 10, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      I don’t think you’re old school, just unlikely to appreciate how good the current candidates were compared to those already in the HOF (including those inducted by the writers). There are many current candidates that were better than at least 1/2 the guys in the HOF that played their position.

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