And what do I want to rant about today? Hall of Fame voting. I love the actual Hall of Fame. I love the idea of a Hall of Fame. I hate the voting system.
So, as we all know by now, Bert Blyleven must wait at least another year in Hall of Fame Purgatory (which, as far as I can tell, is about 40 miles SE of Cooperstown). As much as this stinks, this is not the true subject of my rant.
Now, to be clear, I really want Bert to go into the Hall, but my reasons are purely subjective. I'm a fan of his and I think it would be cool if he were in. I've seen his numbers, and I think they're good enough to get him in. It should be hard to get into the Hall of Fame, but I think it's been too hard for Bert. However, I can't honestly say that I can be 100% objective about it.
My problem is that I think the voting system is severely flawed, and therefore the results are skewed. Not to take away those who have been voted in, but the current voting system is a crock.
Currently, only members of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) elect players to the Hall of Fame. They also are the sole voters for the yearly post-season awards in each league: Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. This arrangement was started in the '30s to ensure access to the clubhouses. Is this really necessary any more?
Now, I don't want to bash all the writers, as I'm sure many of them do their research and vote with good consciences. However, this arrangement also lends itself to excessive lobbying (someone had to have promised David Segui a vote in return for a scoop on a story), laziness (five people sent in blank ballots), and a springboard for self-promotion (see this rant about Jay Mariotti for an example of that).
Why MLB allows such an important and honored decision to be left solely with a group of people who spend their time in the periphery of actual baseball activities is indefensible. It's a shame and pity, I tell ya.
The good news is that what makes this rant different than straight-up bitching is that I'm going to offer a solution. 'Cuz I'm cool like that.
The people entitled to complete a ballot should undergo a rigorous application process. As tempting as it is to give them an intelligence test, I'm not really suggesting that. But the application should be difficult enough to separate the in-the-knowsers from the posers. Once a person's application has been accepted, it's always good.
Next, allow more than just BBWAA members to vote. In fact, I think people from the following groups should be given an opportunity to apply for a ballot:
- BBWAA members -- I don't want to take it away from them because, for the most part, they really do have to understand good baseball in order to do their jobs well.
- Broadcasters -- They probably know as much as the writers do.
- Professional baseball statisticians and researchers -- Everyone throws around stats from Elias Sports Bureau, why not let the folks who come up with the stats have a vote?
- Major League scouts -- These guys make a living out of carefully evaluating players; they should know who's good at baseball.
- Current Hall of Fame members -- They wouldn't have to submit the rigorous application; they would just get to vote if they want to.
I'm not saying that my system would've allowed Bert to get in any sooner, or even at all, but I do think it would be a much more fair process.
End rant. Whew! I do feel better.