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. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are partying like it’s 2009

    May 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Braun and Fielder Getty Images

    They’re 31 and super expensive, but maybe they aren’t quite as washed up as some people have suggested.

  2. Angels demote designated hitter C.J. Cron to Triple-A

    May 26, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    C.J. Cron Getty Images

    Cron was billed as a potential middle-of-the-order slugger when the Angels drafted him with the 17th overall pick in 2011.

  3. Video: Nolan Arenado made two sweet plays yesterday

    May 26, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Nolan Arenado Getty Images

    He also homered, had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly in the ninth.

  4. Ruben Amaro dismisses fans who “bitch and complain” about the Phillies’ moves

    May 26, 2015, 8:25 AM EDT

    Ruben Amaro Getty Images

    Ruben Amaro offers some truthful observations in about as undiplomatic a fashion as possible.

  5. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    May 26, 2015, 6:51 AM EDT

    Bartolo Colon Getty Images

    Walking Mike Trout, running Bartolo Colon. Today’s ATH has everything.

  6. The Braves are trying to trade Alberto Callaspo

    May 25, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23:  Alberto Callaspo #1 of the Atlanta Braves walks back to the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on April 23, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After signing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Braves, Callaspo is batting just .206 with one home run and a .545 OPS over 123 plate appearances this season.

  7. Travis d’Arnaud on track to rejoin Mets next week

    May 25, 2015, 10:19 PM EDT

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Travis d'Arnaud #7 of the New York Mets looks on from the bench priro to the start of the game against the New York Yankees  on April 26, 2015  at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) Getty Images

    D’Arnaud has been sidelined since April 19 due to a fractured right pinkie finger.

  8. Video: Giancarlo Stanton makes a leaping catch to rob Josh Harrison of extra bases

    May 25, 2015, 9:18 PM EDT

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 25:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins catches the third out in the second inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 25, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

    We usually post videos of Giancarlo Stanton hitting long home runs because he has a penchant for doing that on a regular basis and it’s a lot of fun to marvel over them. However, he can also get it done with the glove.

  9. Jose Bautista receives cortisone shot in ailing shoulder

    May 25, 2015, 8:14 PM EDT

    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 13:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista hasn’t been able to play in the field since April 21 due a nagging shoulder injury, but he hopes to change that soon.

  10. Video: Khris Davis has home run taken away before getting it back

    May 25, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 25: Khris Davis #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the third inning agains the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park on May 25, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Khris Davis Getty Images

    Brewers outfielder Khris Davis hit two home runs today against the Giants, but he nearly had one of them taken away for not touching home plate.

  11. Wily Peralta out at least four weeks with oblique strain

    May 25, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17:  Wily Peralta #38 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 17, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Brewers manager Craig Counsell said today that right-hander Wily Peralta will miss at least four weeks with an oblique strain.

  12. Great Moments in Memorial Day Tributes

    May 25, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    American Flag

    When I think solemn remembrance of the military dead, I definitely think John Kruk and Curt Schilling in weird jerseys.

  13. Another potential cable deal could mean more Dodgers games on TV in southern California soon

    May 25, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    dodgers logo

    Dodgers fans have been through this before, but hope is hope.

  14. Broken finger sends James Loney to Rays’ disabled list

    May 25, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT

    james loney getty Getty Images

    Loney was hitting .275 with two homers and a .698 OPS in 30 games.

  15. John Farrell calls for an approved substance pitchers can use for a better grip

    May 25, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    He thinks it’s silly that guys are risking 8-10 game suspensions for doing something everyone does and everyone thinks is sensible.

  16. Travis Ishikawa designated for assignment by the Giants

    May 25, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    travis ishikawa getty Getty Images

    Ishikawa started (out of position in left field) for the Giants during last year’s World Series-winning playoff run.

  17. A’s closer Sean Doolittle is ready to make his season debut

    May 25, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT

    Sean Doolittle AP

    Doolittle is coming back from a partially torn rotator cuff.

  18. Josh Hamilton is starting in left field and batting fifth for the Rangers today

    May 25, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    Josh Hamilton AP

    Last time he started in left field and batted fifth for the Rangers? July 27, 2010.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (3811)
  2. A. Pujols (3346)
  3. R. Castillo (3204)
  4. J. Lucroy (3068)
  5. D. Travis (3056)
  1. Y. Puig (3012)
  2. D. Wright (2942)
  3. C. Crisp (2936)
  4. B. Harper (2862)
  5. J. Reyes (2725)