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Making Sense of the 2010 Hall of Fame Selection

By Mike Silva ~ January 7th, 2010. Filed under: Hall of Fame, Mike Silva.

First, congratulations to Andre Dawson for his selection to the Hall of Fame. I said to Kostya Kennedy, during a show last season, the Hall of Fame debate is polarizing, contentious and, in the end, both sides made fair arguments. Unfortunately, a fun debate can be ruined by nasty differences, saturation of stats, and politics by the BBWAA.

I have been defending the right of individual BBWAA members to cast the votes as they choose. In my opinion, there is no “right” or “wrong” vote for the Hall of Fame, or postseason awards. Nothing burns me more than individuals who claim righteousness over decision making because they bow at the altar of advanced stats. With that said, today is more about the BBWAA, not the use of advanced metrics, because, after what transpired yesterday, they should take a long look at how they are treating the right to vote on these prestigious awards.

Before going forward I want to be very clear that I support the writers and respect what they do. I have never been a proponent of the proverbial “war” between bloggers, independent media, and professional journalist. Each come together to give us the greatest era of sports media in history. With that said, five blank ballots turned in by BBWAA members, as well as the perceived politics played with certain players, is starting to bother me.

How else can you explain the exclusion of Alomar, an elite second baseman from induction to the Hall? Whether it’s the spitting incident with John Hirschbeck, early decline that put him short of 3,000 hits, or last year’s HIV allegations, Alomar clearly was a victim of politics. The one hot button I have where I do question a voters “thought process” is making morality, or ethics part of the equation. It’s patently unfair to use that against certain players (McGwire, Alomar), but ignore it for others (Ferguson Jenkins). I realize the Hall puts “ethics” into its criteria, but a league that demonstrates poor ethics at times should loses the right to embrace such high ground. What is proper and right to one, may not be the same for others. Let’s go on the player’s career accomplishments, which will leave enough interpretation for debate.

What I can’t wrap my head around are the blank ballots, or writers admitting they nearly forgot to vote this year. How can you be flip with the honor? I realize the industry takes its toll. These guys are underpaid, overworked, and let down by their employers. Remember, covering baseball isn’t easy, you deal with odd schedules, working holidays, and dealing with difficult people just like any job. It can give even the best writer a cynical view of a game we all loved as kids. With that said, the privilege to vote for awards and the Hall of Fame should be taken seriously. Players trained hard to become that good at their trade, the least a writer can do is put an honest effort and thought process behind the ballot. Leaving it blank should be the rarest of cases. When five writers do it in one year you have to think it’s for a self serving purpose. Maybe in the future these writers need to submit a one page rationale for leaving the ballot blank. I would even go one step further and make sending in a ballot mandatory to inclusion to the BBWAA-  just like filing taxes! You forget to send in a ballot and your out, unless there is some extreme reason.

In the end, the 2010 vote sheds light on why the Hall of Fame election process needs to be reworked. Maybe it’s time to get the players, managers, and executives involved. Split the vote in three ways: 33.3% weight for each entity. Create a committee of players, another one of managers/executives, and the BBWAA. Take the vote and blend the totals together to come to the 75% benchmark. This will allow for diverse thought process and give all candidates a fair show. Obviously these committee’s could also be riddled with politics (see the Veterans committee and Gil Hodges), but at least there would be some checks and balances. Just because the BBWAA didn’t like covering an athlete (see Jim Rice), doesn’t mean the players, managers, and owners felt the same way.

There are many processes that need cleaning up in baseball. Instead of Bud Selig playing politics about a series in Japan, perhaps he should focus on the thing his fans (aka customers- have to keep reminding them of this) want improved. We probably will get a year without Hall of Fame voting controversy before that happens.

Listen to me talk about the 2010 Hall of Fame selection of Andre Dawson by downloading last night’s show

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Making Sense of the 2010 Hall of Fame Selection

  1. birtelcom

    “In my opinion, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ vote for the Hall of Fame, or postseason awards.”

    Mike, you surely don’t mean that literally. If a writer had submitted a ballot this year that consisted solely of David Segui and Mike Jackson, excluding Dawson, Alomar, Raines, Lee Smith and everyone else, surely you and I could justifiably argue that this was a “wrong” vote for the Hall. There is, I think you would agree, no reasonable argument that Mike Jackson should be inducted into the Hall of Fame while, say, Lee Smith is not, or that David Segui should be inducted while Dawson is not. One could well understand, I think, vociferous criticism of a silly Segui/Mike Jackson ballot, which ballot could be justifiably accused of lacking any coherence and having been cast frivolously. Indeed, such a ballot could be reasonably accused of undermining the integrity of the Hall of Fame because it would have clearly been cast without any meaningful thought given to who deserves induction and who does not.

    If you agree that a vote for Segui and Jackson would be deserving of such criticism, then you in effect agree that there is indeed a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in HOF voting, and that your ostensible dispute with some in the saber-sphere is really a matter of degree and not principle. For many who have studied these issues with great care, selecting Jim Rice but not Tim Raines is deserving of vociferous criticism on many of the same grounds (though obviously represetning a less extreme situation) as the criticism we have imagined of a David Segui/Mike Jackson ballot.

  2. Mike Silva


    The issue of “precedent” is a great case you make. I believe once you allow someone (i.e. Bill Mazerowski) into the HOF, you open it up for others that should be in. Now, in defense of the BBWAA, Maz was a Veterans Committee pick. That is why my idea of 33.33 percent weight makes sense. Eliminate the whole “Vets Committee” and allow people to vote for 10 individuals. Maybe the criteria for players “over the 15 year mark” is below 75% maybe make it 50. I am just throwing out ideas, but things need to change.

    Are Mike Jackson and David Segui “bad votes” – sure, but lets hope they didn’t just vote for them. Whatever that writer believes is a HOF player, those individuals met the criteria. Until the HOF puts up a clear criteria, its hard for any to criticize the blank ballot or the Segui vote. Of course, I do believe a blank ballot should include a one page explanation as to “why” said individual is not voting.

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