…. Worthy of the Hall

Here’s two writers, explaining how they think the Hall of Fame should change it’s ways. The first is Dan Rosenheck, writing for the NY Times:

…. a little-noticed quirk of the Hall’s voting procedures has denied a vast majority of candidates their due period of deliberation. To prevent the electorate from being swamped by an overwhelmingly long list of choices, the organization permanently removes everyone from the ballot who fails to attain 5 percent of the vote in any year. This condemns those players to obscurity because their names will be excluded from the annual ballot debate among baseball pundits nationwide.

He goes on to detail the mant players whom he feels have been slighted by this quirk, including Bobby Grich and Alan Trammell.

The second writer is Joe Sheehan:

…. still comfortably ensconced in my position as an outsider to the process, I’d like to suggest that the 15-year window for eligibility has long outgrown its usefulness. With all of the information available about modern players—information accessible in a heartbeat—you can cut that by two-thirds and still get solid evaluations of players’ careers. In addition, by lowering the eligibility window, you can eliminate the five percent rule that has claimed a handful of players, such as Lou Whitaker, who deserved greater consideration. That rule was designed to clean up the ballot, but with players only staying on for five years, the ballot would be plenty clean.

Both suggestions come from the same place, the same notion, that the Hall of Fame voting process needs revision. It needs updating. In fact, Sheehan already wrote a piece about the Hall of Fame earlier this off-season, bringing up the BBWAA’s refusal to open it’s doors wider, (notwithstanding the fact that several internet writers have recently been included). Since he never really made a petition for his own inclusion, let me be the one to say it; Joe Sheehan absolutely should be a voter in the Hall of Fame process. Then again, so should Bill James, David Pinto, and many, many others.

The BBWAA is stuck in the past. The time has come to change the process in many ways. Of all the ideas, however, I still think the best one is the simplest. I’d like to see the Hall open up the voting to lots of writers. Bill James wrote about this many years ago, his idea was to set up a fairly simple application process, with a test or something like it, maybe even an interview, and anyone interested could do their homework, prepare, and either they know enough about the game and it’s history to be included, or they don’t.

More voters wouldn’t make it easier for players to get in. It wouldn’t harm the Hall, it wouldn’t cheapen the honor. It would broaden and expand the arguments for and against each player. It would prevent players from being denied because the only people who can vote on them didn’t like them, or thought they were assholes, or rude to kids, or whatever. It would lessen the impact of any one person, and almost certainly make it harder for a marginal candidate to be inducted unless his value can be explained in a detailed and convincing way.

This would be a good thing. A meeting of the minds between the old establishment, the BBWAA, and the new, the baseball blogosphere’s best, would be a good thing, too. The future is now, the time has come for this kind of progress.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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