Friday, January 8, 2010

Rocking the Rant

You know how a good cry makes you feel better? Well, so does a good rant. I haven't ranted in a while, and since it's been cold and snowy, and traffic has pissed me off all week, now is as good a time as any to get some stuff off my chest.

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.

Yeah, I know, eleventy-billion other people have already ranted on this topic. What's your point?

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.
For the record, I also think the same process could be used for the yearly awards. The voters for those should include those above (except the Hall of Famers), current team managers, and current team general managers (the managers and general managers wouldn't be able to vote for players from their own teams).

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.


On the road with.... said...

I think Oneonta is 40 miles SE of Cooperstown :). Good ideas except having Hall of Famers vote. They rarely vote anyone in on the Veteran's committee. If you vot zero, you have to rationalize each guy you didn't vote for, then your ballet is fine. Otherwise, don't count it. Jay Marriotti is an ass clown, as an aside.

Fran said...

Adding broadcasters carries a significant risk of adding more Mariottiesque assclowns to the pool.

The voting system certainly is flawed, but I think the debating and ranting is not all bad.

Seems to me if the system were perfect; no questionable choices as to who gets in, who doesn't and everyone marveling at how knowledgeable and sage-like the voters are, some of the enjoyment would be lost.

mookie5 said...

I kinda have to agree with Fran. I'm not sure there are enuf Dick Bremers to outweigh goofballs like Joe Buck, and many of the TBS or FOX guys. And, you shouldn't be a baseball announcer and also do other sports, to vote. So, Al Michaels is out.

What about they have to be out of baseball a certain length of time ?

linda said...

Could not agree more K-bro.