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Another blank ballot submitted

Jan 9, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT

protest sign

This one from Howard Bryant of ESPN:

As it turned out, I sent my 2013 Hall of Fame ballot in blank. This wasn’t science. It wasn’t a clever attack in the three-front culture war among the players, the SABR s and the BBWAAs. It wasn’t a protest, either. It was just one voter’s inability to reach a comfortable verdict on a colossal mess that for years no one wanted to take responsibility for and that isn’t going to get any less complicated as time goes on.

No, Howard, it was you being a drama queen.

Bryant has kind words for Fred McGriff and Jack Morris later in his column. Two guys who, depending on how close the vote is, may not make Cooperstown because of the handful of voters who, like Bryant, submit blank ballots.

But at least Bryant is relieved from having to participate in what he calls “a joyless and sour” process. Bravo.

Anyway, this is all that needs to really be said about blank ballots.

  1. wpjohnson - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    I have a lot more respect for Bryant than for those who feel they must vote for ten. the Hall needs to be exclusive rather than inclusive. this if X, why not Y mentality needs to stop. there are far too many Xs in there now. Adding the Ys does nothing but lessen the integrity of the Hall.

    • Jeremy T - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      In the abstract, I might agree with you. However, there are enough legitimate all-time greats on this year’s ballot that voting for 10 people is more than defensible. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the argument that someone felt that they “must vote for ten” just because that’s how many votes they were given. The reason that so many writers are listing their 10 yes’s is because there are probably about 15 players that had careers significantly better than the average hall of famer.

      • wpjohnson - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        thus, you are a proponent of “if X, why not Y?”. The problem is that it becomres less of a Hall of Fame and more of a Hall of Mediocrity. If you find 10 worthy of election from this years crop, you obviously have rather low standards for rating greatness.

      • Jeremy T - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        I said better than the average hall of famer, not the minimum. Bonds and Clemens are great by any definition of the word in relation to baseball playing ability. Raines was one of the greatest base stealers of all time, perhaps even the greatest (at least in regards to efficiency), and was good enough in other areas to match up with just about any other leadoff hitter in the history of the game, outside of Ricky Henderson. Bagwell is probably one of the top 5 first basemen ever, hitting for average and power with great speed on the basepaths. Edgar Martinez may have been a DH, but his pure hitting ability still easily qualifies him as “great” in my eyes, at least. Piazza was the greatest hitting catcher ever, and probably still top 5 all time when taking other factors into account.

        OK that’s 6. On top of them I think you could easily make a very strong argument for McGwire, Schilling (he’s helped a lot by postseason performances), Trammel, Walker, Biggio, Sosa, and probably others that I missed. These guys aren’t worthy of the HOF because they match the standard set by Candy Cummings, Rabbit Maranville, Bill Mazeroski, etc. There are an astounding number of players on this year’s ballot that I believe would be in the top 10-20% of Hall of Famers.

    • paperlions - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      You could elect 10 guys from this class and NONE of them would be in the bottom 1/2 of the least qualified HOFers.

      If you want only the truly great and you think only a certain number of total representative should be inducted, then we need to either start over, or start removing guys that are less qualified as more qualified players become eligible.

  2. wonkypenguin - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    My boss asked me to make a decision regarding when to implement new software we’re using in our department. I went back and forth about the merits of February and March. I agonized about which month was better, about the factors going into our ability to be productive in both months, and about, really, which month has been better to me in the past. February 2004 was fantastic but March 1998 was hella awesome. Still, I would need to review those two particular time periods for much longer to decide if they were actually good or if there were some other forces at play. Maybe they’d look better with more time.

    In the end, it was just a joyless and sour process and I told my boss I was unable to make a decision but I would take it back up in December of this year and maybe institute the software in 2014.

    It went over well.

  3. The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    This isn’t an inability to reach a verdict. A blank ballot IS a verdict. A non-submission is what you do when you can’t reach a verdict.

    • TIF - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Precisely. If a writer contends that he cannot handle the pressure of voting this year or, as Bryant contends, has an “inability to reach a comfortable verdict on a colossal mess,” then do not submit a ballot! If Bryant feels that – for whatever reason – he is not “comfortable” voting this year, then don’t vote. But submitting a blank ballot is a vote – it is counted as a “no” against every player on the ballot. Do the writers that submit blank ballots not understand this?

  4. nategearhart - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    After reading several of Howard Bryant’s pieces several years ago (mostly concerning Mark McGwire), I became convinced the man simply does not enjoy baseball anymore. He’s a pretty good writer too, so the shit is terribly contagious. I had to stop reading his stuff to keep from collapsing into a corner, pining for 1961, the year that baseball and life were perfect.

  5. stex52 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Perhaps he could find more joy if he resigned his position as a voter. I know it would give me more joy if he did. If it’s so tough, he can hand off the responsibility.

  6. bombthreat27 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Morris deserves to be in the hall. He was masterful.

    • yahmule - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      Sometimes, on this site, the line between Morris supporter and Morris troll blends almost seamlessly. Other times, not so much.

  7. stex52 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    BTW, you could do us one real favor, Craig. I have been afraid to use the term “drama queen” due to fear of the instant and near-lethal response of the moral guardians on this site (both sides of the aisle). So I chickened and used “drama boy” on several occasions. If you would throw that in two or three more times to give guys like me cover, it would be appreciated.

    • Old Gator - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      My baseball coach, he done kicked me off the team,
      for wearing high heeled sneakers and acting like a queen.


      • rhodefan - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        It was “basketball” but you get a hall pass for the well-placed Cheech and Chong reference!!

        Totally worth a play of the full song –

        Who else could write the lyric:
        Mama, Papa try to tell me how to live
        By I don’t listen to ’em, cuz my head is like a sieve

  8. historiophiliac - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Is that a pic of a sign from the Rally to Restore Sanity? If so, mine read: “Pres Obama is NOT the anti-Christ (that’s Bud Selig)”

    • 18thstreet - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      I didn’t bring a sign, but my favorites were “THERE’S ALWAYS MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND” and “What do we want? Objective research [something like this]! When do we want it? Upon peer review.”

      • historiophiliac - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        Actually, the “front” side of my sign said: “Everyone right of me is not Franco” but no one got it (I guess if it’s not Hitler, it’s meaningless), so I added the baseball thing on the back. :)

        There were some good ones there…including the blank one that was waved wildly.

  9. El Bravo - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    It’s El Bravo to you, sir.

  10. cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    EVERYBODY! The link! The link at the bottom of the post! It’s Rush!!!!!!!!! Freewill in fact. Yes folks, today is a good day. Rush is the answer….

    • historiophiliac - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      Well, I can tell I’m going to have to take my ball and go home for the day…

      • snowbirdgothic - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        The whole process seems to have more of a “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” vibe to it these days.

  11. manute - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    And this is all that needs to be said about Bryant:

    No “character clause” at ESPN, apparently.

    • manute - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      Well, maybe that’s not all, but still….

      An agreement signed by Eisenberg and prosecutor Jeremy C. Bucci states that a review of the evidence does not support the witness allegations that Bryant struck and choked his wife or inflicted violence on her, although Bryant admits police had probable cause to arrest him.

  12. Joe - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    “It was just one voter’s inability to reach a comfortable verdict on a colossal mess that for years no one wanted to take responsibility for and that isn’t going to get any less complicated as time goes on.”

    In other words, Howard Bryant wants somebody to tell him how he should vote when it comes to the PED users?

    I thought the whole idea behind having so many people voting was that, while every voter brings his or her own bias (BA vs. OBP, Wins vs. WAR, PEDs vs. non-PEDs), the consensus would select those worthy of enshrinement. The Hall of Fame and the BBWAA trust Howard Bryant’s judgment in the matter, that’s why they gave him a vote. Why doesn’t he trust himself?

  13. mike913 - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    i say if bonds, clemens, mcgwire get in then hall of fame and MLB need to opens the doors for pete rose to be in the hall of fame

    • Jeremy T - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Maybe. I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but given the context of the league’s attitude towards their respective sins at the time they were committed, I’m not sure that they’re exactly the same.

  14. sportsdrenched - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    “It was just one voter’s inability to reach a comfortable verdict on a colossal mess that for years no one wanted to take responsibility for”

    Can’t say I read this guy. But if you have a HOF Vote Isn’t it YOUR responsibility to sort this stuff out. Don’t you as a baseball writer get paid to research and form opinions?

    I think if you send in a blank ballott your HOF vote should be revoked for not doing your job.

  15. hk62 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Rose should be in the Hall of Fame – that is a no brainer (and I never liked the guy). He’s not because he forced the game to separate him and is too stubborn to get it fixed. Very sad.

    I’m pretty tired of all this – kind of thinking I don’t care at all whether anyone else gets into the HoF because the complete irresponsibility of voters like Howard Bryant. “Can’t be comfortable” Seriously – no one that played in the past 25 years is ever going to get your vote? Then just shut the building down now, send the plaques to the teams or the next of kin or the inductee (they would be valuable collectors items as there would be no more!) – taking the vote away from the BBWAA means we have those elected by the writers (somehow better status?) and those that weren’t – unless you have actual evidence try using the American approach you goofs (innocent until proven guilty) – since there is no way for a player to prove his innocence.

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