Building a Better Hall of Fame Voting Process


Good evening everyone!  I’m happy to announce that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) Jeff Idelson just contacted me via Twitter to let me know that I have been tasked with improving the Hall of Fame voting process!

Okay, not really….but after reading Puckett Pond’s Ted Schwerzler’s piece on the problems with the voting process, I decided to figure it out for everyone. So…if Jeff’s looking for some advice, I’ve come up with 5 easy changes to making the process more fair, efficient, and acceptable to the general public:

More from Minnesota Twins News

  1. To be eligible to submit a ballot, all voters must be ACTIVELY covering Major League Baseball, or have been actively covering it within 5 years.  No more legacy voters.  No more writers who don’t recognize any names on the ballot because they stopped covering the sport before some of the players were on a major league roster.  You want your vote to count?  You have to know your candidates.
  2. Expand the number of candidates a voter can choose from 10 to 13.  Anybody know what year the BBWAA decided on limiting the number of players a voter can select to 10?  Answer: 1936. Let me repeat that…1936!!!!  When they put the limit on the number of players a voter could choose, there were 16 teams in the league!  In 79 years, the number of teams and players has doubled, but the rules haven’t changed.  It’s time to fix that.  I’m not going to get too crazy here and double the number of players a voter can vote for to 20…but let’s expand it and allow 3 extra votes per ballot.  A writer isn’t mandated to choose 13, but in a given year, it definitely could warrant it.
  3. Expand voter eligibility to include qualified bloggers. Now, this might look like I want a Hall of Fame vote.  While I would absolutely be that self-serving, I am not suggesting this.  What I am suggesting that many fine writers these days covering major league baseball are not in the BBWAA, thus making them ineligible, which is a shame. The fact is that some of the best evaluators of talent and competency at the sport of baseball are not allowed to determine who should be admitted into the museum that celebrates talent and competency at the sport of baseball. Does that seem right?  Of course it doesn’t.  The BBWAA should allow bloggers to submit an application for eligibility after 7 documented years of covering Major League Baseball.  The BBWAA will review the writer’s content, knowledge base, and ability to submit a quality ballot to determine eligibility.  (For those wondering, I did consider adding broadcasters in this change as well, but with many of said broadcasters being on a team’s payroll, I don’t feel that they could properly separate themselves from their employer when making decisions that could include their employer’s player(s).)
  4. Make the voting process black and white regarding the Steroid Era.  I know, I know…this is an overly simplified way of determining, but it doesn’t have to be.  Since I’m making the changes, here’s what I’m suggesting:  Has the eligible player ever been officially sanctioned or suspended for Performance Enhancing Drug (PEDs) violations?  If yes, then that player can be viewed with stigma of steroid usage and that can be held against him.  BUT IF THE ANSWER IS NO, then the voter MUST evaluate the player’s worthiness of the Hall of Fame based on the player’s resume.  No more rumors.  No more conjecture. No more “did he or didn’t he?”  Just what the player did on the field counts.  Does this mean suspected cheats like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get in?  You bet they do because they played baseball better than almost anyone has in the history of the league, and if the league didn’t have a policy regarding PEDs and didn’t test for them, then that is on the league and not the player.
  5. No more secret ballots. So, you want to vote for Darin Erstad for the Hall of Fame?  Shine on, you crazy diamond.  But from now on, no more hiding behind the curtain of anonymity. Every voter will be required to make their vote public from now on.  Yes, voters will now be open to scrutiny of how they voted.  In the age of social media, we have seen many voters brave enough to make their ballot public, including the Pioneer-Press’s Mike Berardino:

Berardino and many like him who made their ballots public brought a lot of criticism upon themselves by doing so.  It also brought a lot of discussion and conversation to who is Hall-worthy based on many of the voters.  Discussion and conversation are never a bad thing. It enhances fans’ knowledge of the thought processes of voters as well as brings attention to voters who might be voting for players for the right or wrong reasons.  For some voters, this might not be something they’re interested in participating in.  That’s too bad, it’s now part of the process.  I have been reminded by many voters over the past few weeks that the opportunity to vote for the Hall of Fame is not only a privilege but also a responsibility.  It’s time to make sure that voters are living up to that responsibility.

So, once again Mr. Idelson….you know where to find me when you’re ready to make some changes.

So, dear readers, what do you think?  Agree or disagree with these ideas?  Any changes that you would like to see?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

Next: Baseball Gets Stained On Hall Of Fame Day

More from Puckett's Pond