Skip to content

Why do writers vote on the Hall of Fame again?

Jan 7, 2013, 8:28 AM EST

cooperstown

Usually people answer this by saying that they’re the best option we have.  Tim Marchman writes in the Wall Street Journal, however, that there is no particular reason to believe so:

The worst element, though, is that the writers debating all of this have the franchise even though there’s no real reason for them to have it: They have no special knowledge of the game relative to anyone else, and they’ve never done a good job.

The first point here, that writers know little more than anyone else, shouldn’t be especially controversial. The voters are (theoretically) good at writing about baseball, which has no obvious connection to assessing what players’ legacies mean within the broad context of 160 years of history. No one who wanted to know who the most important presidents of all time were would think to poll political reporters rather than historians or the public. Why do the same in baseball?

Fair enough point, though I’m still left with the idea that writers having the vote is the least worst option. Marchman’s suggestion — giving over the vote to the public — strikes me was worse than keeping it with the writers. Even among your friends who follow baseball quite a bit, aren’t you often amazed at how limited their grasp of baseball history is?

My brother was here over the holidays. He started watching baseball when I did and, though he’s more of a hockey fan these days, he still keeps generally apprised of what’s going on in the game. One day when he was here I had to explain to him why Nolan Ryan was not the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball. He wasn’t really buying my arguments. He was, however, buying the hype and legend-making that accompanied the latter part of Ryan’s career. I think that would be pretty common with a public vote for the Hall of Fame. The “fame” part would pretty much take over the process.

I do agree with Marchman that those who vote for the Hall of Fame aren’t automatically qualified simply because they happened to write about the game for a bit, but I think the solution to that is to simply do better at choosing the pool of writers who vote rather than take it away from them entirely.

Latest Posts
  1. Giants casting “wide net” that includes Max Scherzer

    Nov 25, 2014, 10:12 PM EST

    max scherzer getty Getty Images

    Max Scherzer, a client of Scott Boras, seems comfortable with slow-playing this market. We’ve seen loads of rumors and reports involving the other prominent free agent ace, Jon Lester, but it’s hard to identify which teams are in the running at the moment for Max. The Giants may be one …

  2. Lucas Harrell, Jim Adduci both sign contracts in Korea

    Nov 25, 2014, 8:47 PM EST

    kbo logo

    Via Jeeho Yoo of Seoul’s Yonhap News, right-hander Lucas Harrell and outfielder Jim Adduci both agreed to one-year deals Tuesday in the Korea Baseball Organization — Harrell with the KIA Tigers for $900K and Adduci with the Lotte Giants for $650K.

  3. Diamondbacks “among teams pushing hardest” for Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas

    Nov 25, 2014, 7:51 PM EST

    yasmany tomas getty Getty Images

    Arizona has been mentioned before as a potential landing spot for Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, but it was never really considered a strong likelihood. Maybe that perception should be changing …

  4. Red Sox announce four-year, $88 million deal with Hanley Ramirez, DFA Juan Francisco

    Nov 25, 2014, 6:38 PM EST

    red sox logo

    The Red Sox have officially introduced Hanley Ramirez and his new four-year, $88 million pact. Juan Francisco was DFA’d in the process.

  5. Yu Darvish has been cleared to resume throwing

    Nov 25, 2014, 5:40 PM EST

    Yu Darvish AP AP

    Darvish missed the final six weeks of the season with an elbow injury.

  6. The Senate will hold a hearing about domestic violence in professional sports

    Nov 25, 2014, 5:25 PM EST

    Capitol

    Possibly well-intentioned, possibly grandstanding. But it’s hard to see how this is in Congress’ bailiwick.

  7. Indians interested in Chase Headley

    Nov 25, 2014, 4:46 PM EST

    Chase Headley AP

    What would happen to Lonnie Chisenhall?

  8. The Cubs have offered Jon Lester “north of $135 million”

    Nov 25, 2014, 3:46 PM EST

    jon lester getty Getty Images

    Based on what we know at the moment, the Cubs’ offer is the richest one out there.

  9. Twins drop arbitration eligible Anthony Swarzak

    Nov 25, 2014, 3:15 PM EST

    swarzak getty Getty Images

    Swarzak was due for a raise to around $1.5 million via arbitration.

  10. How Twitter has changed baseball coverage. Which is part of the story, anyway.

    Nov 25, 2014, 3:03 PM EST

    Typewriter

    Technology itself hasn’t changed how reporters do their jobs. Rather reader demand, newly obvious by technology, has done so.

  11. Daisuke Matsuzaka is going back to Japan

    Nov 25, 2014, 1:47 PM EST

    Daisuke Matsuzaka Getty Getty Images

    Matsuzaka spent the past two seasons with the Mets.

  12. Dave Martinez is leaving the Rays after being passed over for manager

    Nov 25, 2014, 1:20 PM EST

    Dave Martinez, Joe Maddon Getty Images

    Martinez served as Joe Maddon’s right-hand man since 2008.

  13. The Mariners have spoken with the Red Sox about Yoenis Cespedes

    Nov 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    cespedes getty Getty Images

    They’ve been linked to Justin Upton and Matt Kemp. But another power bat is a possibility.

  14. Red Sox designate Ryan Lavarnway for assignment

    Nov 25, 2014, 12:46 PM EST

    Ryan Lavarnway Getty Images

    Lavarnway was once a top-100 prospect.

  15. Mets interested in Craig Breslow

    Nov 25, 2014, 12:15 PM EST

    Craig Breslow Getty Getty Images

    Breslow spent the past three seasons with the Red Sox.

  16. Let go of your Troy Tulowitzki fantasies, Yankees fans

    Nov 25, 2014, 11:03 AM EST

    troy tulowitzki getty Getty Images

    At least to the extent you still have them. Because it ain’t happening.

  17. More Hall of Fame ballots like Adam Rubin’s please

    Nov 25, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    10 METS FAYTOK

    The first rule of Hall of Fame Ballot Club: Use all ten slots on your ballot. The second rule of Hall of Fame Ballot Club: USE ALL TEN SLOTS ON YOUR BALLOT.

  18. Phillies sign Chris Nelson

    Nov 25, 2014, 10:15 AM EST

    Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v New York Yankees Getty Images

    Nelson was the ninth overall pick in the 2004 draft.

Featured video

Maddon has high hopes for Cubs
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. P. Sandoval (5686)
  2. Y. Tomas (3902)
  3. H. Ramirez (3687)
  4. J. Lester (3228)
  5. A. LaRoche (2226)
  1. J. Upton (2215)
  2. J. Bruce (2189)
  3. T. Hunter (2025)
  4. I. Davis (2021)
  5. M. Scherzer (1782)