Skip to content

Why do writers vote on the Hall of Fame again?

Jan 7, 2013, 8:28 AM EDT

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. The World Series ratings are low. So what?

    Oct 23, 2014, 5:04 PM EDT

    old TV

    ‘Tis the season for concern trolling about World Series ratings.

  2. Blue Jays “willing to offer at least a three-year deal” to Melky Cabrera

    Oct 23, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Melky Cabrera AP

    That’s quite a change from last time Cabrera hit the open market, when he managed only a two-year, $16 million contract coming off a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

  3. Pirates sign Josh Stinson

    Oct 23, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    Josh Stinson Orioles

    Stinson has had brief looks in the majors with the Orioles, Brewers, and Mets, combining to throw 52 innings with a 4.47 ERA in parts of four seasons.

  4. The Mets are interested in Michael Cuddyer

    Oct 23, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Michael Cuddyer Getty Getty Images

    He only played 49 games this season, but they were 49 pretty good games.

  5. Gold Glove finalists announced

    Oct 23, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    gold glove award

    On your mark. Get set. Complain!

  6. The Brewers hire Darnell Coles as their hitting instructor

    Oct 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Brewers logo

    He previously managed in the Brewers’ minor league system.

  7. Blue Jays “getting a lot of interest” in Adam Lind

    Oct 23, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    adam lind getty Getty Images

    Will the Blue Jays trade Lind after he hit .321 this season?

  8. HBT Daily: Did Ned Yost outduel Bruce Bochy?

    Oct 23, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Division Series - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Kansas City Royals - Game Three Getty Images

    Or did the players actually have something to do with all of this?

  9. The Rockies fire their pitching coach

    Oct 23, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

    rockies logo

    Who wants THAT job? Anyone? Anyone?

  10. The Cubs’ battle with the rooftop owners may be coming to an end

    Oct 23, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    Wrigley Rooftop

    The team may soon own the buildings across Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.

  11. John Hart to be named Braves President of Baseball Operations

    Oct 23, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT

    John Hart

    Presumably, the Braves will also hire a general manager, giving them the two-headed front office we’ve seen in Chicago and will soon see in Los Angeles.

  12. There was a Tim Lincecum sighting last night! But then he went away again.

    Oct 23, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT

    Tim Lincecum AP

    The Freak was back last night. And he did OK, though he left with a stiff back.

  13. At least Hunter Strickland entertained us last night

    Oct 23, 2014, 7:44 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 7.42.57 AM AP

    The rookie didn’t have control. With his pitches or with his emotions.

  14. Giants should give Yusmeiro Petit the Game 4 start

    Oct 23, 2014, 2:25 AM EDT

    Yusmeiro Petit Yusmeiro Petit

    Petit deserves the nod over probable starter Ryan Vogelsong.

  15. Royals even up World Series with 7-2 Game 2 victory

    Oct 22, 2014, 11:34 PM EDT

    kelvin herrera getty Getty Images

    Yordano Ventura held the Giants to two runs over five-plus innings and the Kansas City offense awoke for seven runs on 10 hits as the Royals evened up the 2014 World Series at a win apiece with a 7-2 Game 2 victory on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

  16. Royals grab commanding lead and benches clear in sixth inning of World Series Game 2

    Oct 22, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT

    billy butler getty Getty Images

    The host Royals have the visiting Giants right where they want them in Game 2 of the World Series.

  17. World Series Game 2 tied 2-2 through five innings

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT

    yordano ventura getty Getty Images

    Game 2 of the World Series has been a back-and-forth affair thus far, with the visiting Giants scoring single runs in the first and fourth innings and the Royals scoring in the first and second. It’s all square at 2-2 as the action shifts to the top of the sixth.

Featured video

A managerial overanalysis epidemic
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Bumgarner (3103)
  2. J. Shields (2918)
  3. T. Lincecum (2799)
  4. M. Morse (2404)
  5. T. Ishikawa (2395)
  1. Y. Cespedes (2023)
  2. L. Cain (1665)
  3. B. Roberts (1646)
  4. B. Posey (1507)
  5. U. Jimenez (1495)