Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Term Limits or Perpetual Eligibility for Candidates?

DanG sent this to some of us about a week and a half ago:

I thought I would run this idea by youse guys.

I feel compelled to take another stab at limiting candidacies.  Perpetual eligibility is great in theory, but in practice it has its problems.

As we near the halfway mark, the cautions that Marc (Sunnyday2) and I brought forth in the formation of the project are bearing forth.  Only four candidates received 33% of possible points, a new record low.  69 players received votes, a new record high.  These records will soon be broken and the fragmentary balloting will worsen.  Players will be elected that will make Pike and Terry’s support appear overwhelming, especially as we get into the elect-3 years.

This is not really a huge problem yet, but I have a suggestion to subtly relieve the pressure in this direction.  I call it 70-and-Out.  For players last playing after 1891 (or eligible for our first election), they get 70 years on the ballot.  For players retiring before 1892, they are eligible until 75 years after their last game.  This would mean that Jim Creighton is already ineligible for election, but nobody has voted for him for quite a while anyway.

But.  Along with this I suggest a 10% rule.  A candidate will only be retired after he is named on less than 10% of the ballots (less than 6 votes, as things currently run) in two consecutive elections.  So Friends Of Charley Jones, all ten of them, have no worries.  In time, this will reduce the votes being thrown away on pet candidates (there were 63 votes wasted on candidates receiving less then 6 votes in 1949).  By the time we reach the present in 2007 we will have retired all the bad candidates retiring before 1932.

It’s not too late to enact this rule.  The first “significant” candidates to expire would be Harry Wright and Candy Cummings, after the 1952 election.  Unless they get a sudden revival of support.  Which leads to the chief benefit of this idea.

It’s a perfect way to highlight the old time candidates.  I would provide lists of players due to get the blade.  Discussion would proceed from this; Do we really want to let Harry Wright disappear forever?  When we get to 1959 and Tommy Bond and Levi Meyerle are on the bubble, this may very well revive their candidacies.  Or not; as it stands now they are almost entirely forgotten.

I expect the usual cries of, “But these aren’t my 15 best candidates, you’re forcing me to vote for someone I don’t want,” or similar drivel.  Look, we already know that the difference between your #6 and #16 player (or #26) is negligible, and becoming even less as time goes on.  So we’re not dredging up refuse by doing this.  Focusing attention on The Candidates and away from the fantasies is a good thing.  You’re saying 140 weeks is not enough time to study and stump for a player?  “Yes, we know you love Fred Dunlap/Tommy Bond/Tony Mullane, but it’s time to go now.”  Why can’t we say that?

To me, the point of this project is reaching consensus through informed discussion.  To those who stubbornly reject the values of the majority, we can help them.  Yes, there is virtue in open discussion of all candidates, and we are doing this.  But there is vice in anarchy and chaos, and this is a small attempt to ensure order because I think it ultimately leads to a better result.

 

What do you think?  Should we put this idea before the group?

 

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2005 at 09:42 PM | 158 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2005 at 09:52 PM (#1308122)
hot topics
   2. David C. Jones Posted: May 03, 2005 at 10:00 PM (#1308140)
No.

I might support this idea if there was a mechanism for returning a player to a ballot. If new statistical analysis or evidence comes to light, and the player is already "retired", what would we do? How could an eliminated candidate be returned? The door should never be shut on ANY player forever.
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 03, 2005 at 10:00 PM (#1308143)
With all due respect to Dan (who put a lot of hard work into his proposal), I think it's much ado about nothing. Yes, we probably will have lower and lower percentages of votes for some of the candidates, but I don't see this as a major problem, IMO. When you have more and more borderline candidates, the voting will become more fragmented. But is this actually a bad thing? Well, I guess it might be if you have a new borderline candidate who has to go up against all of those stinky borderline candidates from the past, but them's the breaks.

When we start voting in candidates that are noticeably below borderline, then we would need to do something - pronto!
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: May 03, 2005 at 10:30 PM (#1308225)
David, there is a mechanism for returning a candidate to the ballot after they fall off. Dan, you should import some more of the off-line discussion that doesn't seem to be here, unless I'm missing it.
   5. DavidFoss Posted: May 03, 2005 at 10:33 PM (#1308232)
One of the things that the HOF was doing in the late 40s (timely here in 1951) was having a runoff election. They stopped doing this in 1950 which is part of the reason why there were no inductees that year.

Logistically, there is no way that we could have runoff elections, but it would probably make a significant difference in past (and future) backlog elections.

WARNING -- Thinking out loud here while looking for a way to do some sort of run-off election. We could have each voter submit their list of any fifteen eligibles as we are now. This would generate a list of the next week's eligible backlog "finalists" (fixed number, say 15).

With their original ballots, voters would also rank all of the current "finalists" that they have left off their ballot. Currently we all have to explain top ten omissions anyways, in this method, we would have to rank them and possibly expand them (depending on the size of the finalist list agreed upon).

When tallying for the winners, counters would only include newly eligibles and backlog "finalists" to generate each voters top fifteen. A non-consensus voter may have the bottom 5-6 slots on their ballots filled in this way.

With the backlog "finalists" regenerated each year, it's easy for players down the backlog can gather support and rise up into the top 10-15 just as they have in the past. With the run-off re-count, it insures more data points for those tricky Pike vs Sewell or Faber vs Jennings elections.

This is probably too complicated -- the current election system is nice in its simplicity -- but since a thread was started on this, I thought I'd toss this out there.
   6. jimd Posted: May 03, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1308269)
I really don't see this as a compelling issue, but I'll still put my two-cents in.

For players last playing after 1891 (or eligible for our first election), they get 70 years on the ballot. For players retiring before 1892, they are eligible until 75 years after their last game.

Strike this. Everybody gets 70 years on the ballot, even Jim Creighton.

I might support this idea if there was a mechanism for returning a player to a ballot.

Veteran's Committee. (Groan ;-) Everybody gets to participate if they wish. They cast a vote annually. Top vote getter on the Veteran's Committee ballot gets recycled as an eligible candidate for 5 years.

This eliminates the pet candidates while allowing those on the 10% margin to move back and forth. New evidence would be evaluated by the VC and if found persuasive, the candidate would move back into competition against the current backlog.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: May 03, 2005 at 11:11 PM (#1308326)
I confess to ambivalence on this but I can absolutely attest to the phenomenon that Dan mentions. i.e. We will continue to fragment, and we will eventually elect some player with a ridiculously puny vote total. It WILL happen.

The question is whether this is a problem or just a phenomenon. I do recall people being outraged that we elected G. Wright and Pike and Pearce and some others who snuck in in those deep backlog years. Many who benefitted happened to be players I supported, including the 3 just named, which may be why I'm not sure it's a big problem. But it WILL happen.

Just for fun, here are the 3rd place candidates over the years (for years when we elected 2 only and drilling down to whomever would have been 3rd if their predecessors in 3rd had been elected:)

1899--G. Wright--elected 1901
1900--T. "O'Keefe"--elected 1901
1901--Glasscock--elected 1904
1902--Glasscock, or if he had been elected in '01 then Radbourne--elected 1905
1903--Glasscock and Radbourne--then H. Richardson--elected in 1905
1904--Radbourn, Richardson--Galvin next--elected 1908
1905--Galvin, then McPhee-elected 1913

Then came our elect 1 years which, BTW, represent a sound precedent for implementing new rules "on the fly."

1912--McPhee, then McVey--elected 1914

2 more elect-1 years.

1915--Stovey--elected 1916
1916--elect-1
1917--Flick--elected 1918
1918--elect-1
1919--J. Collins--elected 1921
1920--elect-1
1921--McGinnity--elected 1928
1922--Brown--elected 1925
1923--elect-1
1924--Brown, then G. Johnson--elected 1925
1925--McGinnity, then Wallace--elected 1929
1926--Wallace, McGinnity, then Sheckard--elected 1930
1927--McGinnity, Wallace, Sheckard, then Thompson--elected 1929
1928--Wallace, Sheckard, Thompson, Caruthers--elected 1930
1929--??? (can't locate result)
1930--Pearce--elected 1931
1931--elect-1
1932--Van Haltren--NOT with 35 ballots, 533 points
1933--Groh--elected 1938
1934--E. Collins--elected 1935
1935--J. Williams--elected 1936
1936--Heilmann--elected 1937
1937--Groh, then Coveleski--elected 1938
1938--Carey--elected 1939
1939--Pike--elected 1941
1940--???
1941--Sewell--NOT with 35 ballots 483 points
1942--Rixey--NOT with 37 and 527
1943--Frisch--elected 1944
1944--Goslin--elected 1945
1945--Beckwith--NOT with 39 and 593
1946--Suttles--NOT with 51 and 758
1947--Wilson--elected 1948
1948--Lyons--elected 1949
1949--Suttles, Beckwith, Rixey, then Ferrell--NOT with 29 and 358
1950--Cronin--probably elected 1951

So there are only a few players who we would have elected in an elect 3 year who has not been elected anyway. But the numbers of votes these players have gotten have declined from 35-40 ballots and about 500-750 points all the way down to Ferrell's 30ish and 350ish.

This trend will continue. In 1951 Suttles will probably be in 3rd place again, though by the later '50s he and Beckwith will probably be elected. When we get into the backlog again after that, well, then you're looking at players with 20-30 ballots and 300-350 points.

And that's just with basically the current backlog, long before the players that all of us grew up watching are eligible.

So, is this a problem?
   8. Chris Cobb Posted: May 03, 2005 at 11:37 PM (#1308453)
Been looking at the 1950 results, and I must say that I am doubtful that this proposal would achieve the desired results. 77 votes were given to candidates who received less than 10% of the vote. In 1965, when the marginal candidates will be getting up near the top again, 21 of those votes would have been excluded by this rule. That's less than 1 per 2 voters, not enough, I think to raise significantly the percentage of the vote received by the candidates with a serious chance at election.

To raise the elimination threshold to a level that would materially influence voting patterns would entail raising to a point at which it would also seem unduly coercive, I fear.

I would rather see us reopen the subject of expanding the ballot to 20 or even 25 names. More than one voter is saying that they would like to vote for candidates who they can't fit onto their ballots. For myself, even if I'm skeptical that the guy I have at #24 is HoM-worthy, I'd rather give him 6 points for reaching the ballot to make sure he stays ahead of the _next_ guy, who is at #40 in my backlog and who I'm _reaaally_ dubous about.

But expanding the ballot would require more work and more bookkeeping, and in 1965, when Averill, Rixey, and Ferrell may be vying for election, folks may no longer be sorry they can't give support to their #18 candidate.

So I don't advocate strongly for this change. But I think it is more likely to mean that elected players will be receiving more than 50% of the vote, if that is seen by the electorate as a highly desirable situation.
   9. Carl Goetz Posted: May 03, 2005 at 11:44 PM (#1308501)
I guess I don't have a problem with removing players, but I'm not sure what the point is. Right now, we see only a few players with clear consensus and lesser support for lesser candidates. Doesn't this make logical sense? What is accomplished by removing players who get some minor support? These voters still support those players, you're just not allowing them to vote for them. At best, you will simply achieve the illusion of consensus, but not actual consensus.
I understand that you would not want a player to get in who is named on less than 50% of the ballots. What if we simply made a rule that no one could be elected with less than 50% support? We could simply 'carryover' that spot to the next election and add an electee there. We would also add a ballot spot so that more people would be named on each ballot. This would be much better than ending eligibility. Voters should continue to have the right to vote for the players they feel are the top 15 that aren't already in.
We could also just increase to 20 or 25 on a ballot. I have a feeling that would solve this 'problem' instantly.
   10. Carl Goetz Posted: May 03, 2005 at 11:46 PM (#1308524)
I didn't start that last post well since I obviously do have a problem with removing players.:)
   11. EricC Posted: May 04, 2005 at 12:04 AM (#1308604)
(Obligatory comment on the "voting paradox", that, in an election among 3 or more candidates, there is no way to ensure a completely fair result.)

If the relative ranking of the candidates in an election represents the consensus opinion of their relative merits, then what's the problem? Ah, but there is a problem. The mandatory 15-player ballot and 24-23-18-17-... point scheme means that my ballot in any given election never accurately represents my own opinion of the relative merits of the candidates. Why not (in an elect 2 year) give every voter 203 total points that they can partition among as many candidates as they feel worthy, with a maximum of 24 points for any given candidate? This would allow me to give backlog players like Beckley and Jennings the points I feel they deserve instead of zero every year, allow people to expand their ballots as they choose, and cause less stress overall (to voters, not ballot counters :-) ), as voters would not have to agonize any more over making impossibly fine distinctions. Furthermore, anybody could "opt out" by submitting a 15-man 24-23-18-17... ballot exactly as before.
   12. yest Posted: May 04, 2005 at 01:24 AM (#1309034)
I think we shouldn't change anything
IF IT AINT BROKE DON"T FIX IT
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2005 at 01:27 AM (#1309050)
This would allow me to give backlog players like Beckley and Jennings the points I feel they deserve instead of zero every year, allow people to expand their ballots as they choose, and cause less stress overall (to voters, not ballot counters :-) ),

Definitely not ballot counters. That would be a nightmare and a half.
   14. Brent Posted: May 04, 2005 at 02:19 AM (#1309293)
I agree with Chris Cobb # 8 - the change I would like to see us considering is expanding the ballot to 20 or 25 names.
   15. OCF Posted: May 04, 2005 at 02:39 AM (#1309354)
Filling the holes in Sunnyday2's #7:

1929 Sheckard, Caruthers, Pearce (1931)
1930 Pearce, Van Haltren (NOT)
...
1940 Sewell (NOT with 35 ballots 483 points)
1941 Vance (1942)
1942 Rixie (NOT)

and then as above.
   16. PhillyBooster Posted: May 04, 2005 at 03:49 AM (#1309509)
A. I'm not sure what the advantage is of a perceived consensus among limited options compared to less consensus among more options.

B. Dan wrote:

To me, the point of this project is reaching consensus through informed discussion. To those who stubbornly reject the values of the majority, we can help them.

This implies that there are majority values to be rejected. It looks to me that only 9 players were named on a majority of the ballots. Next week, 31 of 53 voters will be explaining why they left tenth place Hughie Jennings off of their ballots.

C. I am not convinced that the 4 voters who have Vic Willis in the bottom third of their ballot are more "outside the mainstream" than the 8 who have Mickey Welch in the top third.

D. Meanwhile, I've got a new concern down ballot. If 3 new candidates are ballot-worthy and I had Bill Monroe (8 votes) #15 last year, do I risk dropping him off my ballot? By the time the allstar glut subsides in 3 years, he may not be eligible to come back on. Maybe it's safer to drop Dick Redding (14 votes) from #14 to #16 instead.

E. I am not convinced that the "Elect 3" years will cause further fragmentation. Those are years when, at least in theory, there will be more top candidates.

F. Finally, on a practical level, I'm not sure that the cats can be herded. Unique votes tend to stem from unique valuation methods. The most likely consequence, I think, will be the lone Frank Chance voter becoming the lone Roy Thomas voter or the lone Curt Davis voter. Votes will not de-fragment. They will just fragment along different lines. (What are the odds that a player with unique picks at 14 and 15 will have Earl Averill and Wes Ferrell at 16 and 17?)
   17. Michael Bass Posted: May 04, 2005 at 04:18 AM (#1309561)
I've long been against changing anything, but this feels to me like a particularly bad idea, primarily for reason D. in PhillyBooster's post. I know we hope there isn't gamesmanship in voting, but I think there's going to be a real temptation to boost player A from 20 to 15 in ones system if he's in danger of getting the boot.

I do not support any changes, but I'm far more likely to support an expansion of the ballot (because longer lists = more fun for dorks like me! :) ) than anything else.
   18. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 04, 2005 at 05:24 AM (#1309617)
I would support going to a 20-man ballot. I advocated that earlier as well. This helps candidates with 'depth' to their support, hurts candidates that have strong support from limited numbers - I think that's good in terms of 'consensus'.

I agree with what Carl G said as well, what a great sentence, that puts in perspective what will happen if we do this, "At best, you will simply achieve the illusion of consensus, but not actual consensus."

Here's the 'off-list' replies to Dan's initial note (which is quoted in the lead in for this thread) . . . thanks for compiling it all Dan!

Joe Dimino replied to Dan:

I don't like it.

I think as we get to elect 3 years, we'll actually start electing more people (obvious, duh J) - and working through the backlog. Part of the reason we were conservative with the 'elect me' spots was because of perpetual eligibility. Does it really matter if we have a lot of names out there? Someone said he only sees 4 non-obvious choices the next 15 years or something - so I don't think we're in danger of electing anyone without solid support any time soon.

I don't think we want to force people's hands, let's see how the process works. If I thought Van Haltren and Ryan were about to drop off the ballot, it'd be awfully tempting to bump them to #14/15 to keep them alive - since I think they should probably be elected someday, and certainly remain in the discussion.

Another thing is that we are going to be more and more noticed by others the further we move in time - I think it's important to have everyone possible exposed as we go on. Perhaps someone will look and say - why did Charley Jones get 4 votes in 2004 - is there something to his case? It's keeps people like that in the consideration set, etc..

I'm open to being convinced (of course, as always) - but I really don't think it's necessary.

Dan G responded to Joe:

What if the percentage was only 5%? That's pretty minimal, only 3 votes needed to stay alive.

The elect-3 years don't really get going until the mid 80's. By then, the years of weak candidates will be behind us and the backlog will include a great many post-WW2 stars added to the current 20th century stars. Which is to say, the time has passed for Van Haltren and Ryan, IMO. The new voters who join us in the future are more likely to be voters like (name deleted) more than genuine scholars. These new voters are not likely to be friendly to the earlier players. So the time to stump for 19th century guys is now and for the next 20 "years" or so, if it has not already passed.

At the same time, if these oldtimers are to have any chance, wouldn't it help them by clearing out some of the dead wood? We've come down pretty firmly that Ryan is the least of the bunch. Wouldn't it give GVH and Duffy a fighting chance if Ryan were declared expired after 1978?

With my idea, we _could_ add that players would be reconsidered every 20 years. So, after Harry Wright dropped off after 1952, he would return for another crack in 1973, then 1993, then 2013. I really don't think this is at all necessary because we ARE NOT eliminating anyone who has any chance at election. (That guy who notices Charley Jones in 2004--so Jones gets 5 votes that year instead of 4, so what?) But it would rejuvenate investigation into their merit, which is always something that needs to be encouraged.

My point is that these oldtimers have ZERO CHANCE of gaining traction with the electorate under the current system. Something new needs to be injected to reenergize the process.

Sunnyday2 chimed in:

I have mixed feelings.

There is no question that we will be electing candidates with very few votes in the future.

OTOH Dave Bancroft got no votes in the last election and yet he is the kind of candidate who will make a comeback at some time, and will leapfrog a lot of players who have a "pocket" of support. (Of course, he would not become ineligible for many years in the future, but) My point is whether some really viable candidate might get deleted someday...

But for the moment it does seem to me that the 70-75 year men have had plenty of opportunity. I still have Tommy Bond on my ballot but, realistically, it would make my life easier if I could get rid of him. And Charley Jones would have a loophole for staying eligible under Dan's
proposal. Per my Dave Bancroft comment, I think 6 votes might be too many but conceptually I am fine with it.

Why not have this discussion on the Web site and give everybody a crack at it?

If people feel that players getting elected with (I am guessing) half as many votes and points as our currently lowest level electees have gotten
(that is reality) is NOT a problem, then it's not a problem. But if somebody getting elected with 15 ballots and 200 points is a problem, then it's a problem.

Dan G replied again to Joe:

Just to pick nits for a minute. You said, "but I really don't think it's necessary." Perhaps that was a poor choice of a word on your part, as none of this is really "necessary."

The question to ask is does this improve the process? Does the benefit outweigh the costs? Obviously, you know my answers to those questions.

The idea falls under the heading of Minor Tweak. Old timers get renewed attention while non-candidates get culled.

Sunnyday2 raised a good point, as well: "If people feel that players getting elected with (I am guessing) half as many votes and points as our currently lowest level electees have gotten (that is reality) is NOT a problem, then it's not a problem. But if somebody getting elected with 15 ballots and 200 points is a problem, then it's a problem."

To me, that's a problem.

Eric C chimed in:

Hey guys, thanks for adding me to the email list here.

Before this discussion goes live, let me express an isolated concern about the proposal. I have concerns about this effecting Negro League candidates more than MLB candidates. Voters have expressed that NgL candidates are being underrated already, and once they are competing against players from a voter's own lifetime, they may be drowned out completely because info on them is so much sketchier than on MLBers. (Also, how would we define their "last game", by first year of eligibility minus five years?)

Would it be useful to include a mechanism whereby if new information is uncovered about a candidate that he could be reinstated to the ballot? I'm thinking it would require a fairly large majority to return a candidate and a reinstatement vote would only be called when a piece of information substantial enough to warrant it would be uncovered (like a hoard of Bill Monroe boxscores being discovered or something like that).

Dan G replied to Eric:

I'll try to address your concerns here. I've written a more cogent justification that I'm hoping to save for the "open" discussion.
   19. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 04, 2005 at 05:26 AM (#1309618)
One other thing - I could be convinced that a runoff election of say the top 5 or 10 candidates, if none receives a certain number of points/votes (50% of each?) is a good idea.
   20. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 04, 2005 at 05:30 AM (#1309621)
Dan sent this to me earlier today as well . . . almost forgot to add it.

**********

Perhaps if I send this along it will get the ball rolling. This is the more cogent justification that I have referred to.

Let me try a different tack, better reasoned than my initial email.

First, a reminder of the three pillars of the 70-and-Out proposal

1) Candidates initially get 70 years of eligibility (or until 75 years after last game for pre-1892 retirees).

2) Exempt from #1 are those players still being named on 10% of the ballots. (A percent much lower tends to render the rule ineffective.) Two consecutive years of <10% at 70+ years eligible sends a player into dormancy.

3) Dormant candidates are revived every 20 years for a fresh assessment.

I am not arguing that we eliminate perpetual eligibility; that is one of the foundation principles on which the HoM is built. I am arguing that we eliminate constant eligibility. I am saying to acknowledge that our expert electorate has correctly assessed candidates; that after 70 elections, if a candidacy is going nowhere that it be allowed to go dormant – NOT expire permanently. IMO, a fresh assessment 20 years later can only benefit a candidacy. It gives it that newbie feeling all over again.

As things run now, we’re telling the voters, “We don’t really trust our collective judgment of (e.g.) Ed Williamson. Those three voters [only 1 in 1950] with him on the tail end of their ballot – they could be right!” Gimme a break – sure, they could be right, but if there are arguments for him that the rest of us are missing, bring it on. You have through 1965 to convince us. Surely 68 elections are enough time to digest the information. We’ll check him out again in 1986. If people complain, so what? We still get complaints about Caruthers, Thompson, Pike, Faber, Terry and a dozen other HoMers.

Another primary benefit is relief from having to vote for guys that everyone else has “wrong.” The Constitution compels you to vote for players who have no chance of election if they are one of your top 15. For instance, Jimmy Ryan. He’s a near match for GVH value-wise, IMO. As most other voters came to neglect him, he held his place in my queue until now I’m his best friend. The 70-and-Out rule may free me of being forced to list this hopeless case after the 1978 election. I would prefer this to having to dishonestly downgrade him.

The other side of this is voters will be freer to support candidates that they see as deserving, but who just miss their ballot. Many voters have posted that they have more than 15 candidates they think deserve to be in the HoM. Since we have decided not to expand the ballot to 20 players, there is no way to build support for these sub-15 guys until others are cleared off.

Finally, I don’t think we want to get into a pattern of electing players who are supported by a minority of the electorate. It then appears that most of the voters have “rejected” him, when in reality they simply didn’t have room on their ballot to support him. The 70-and-Out proposal lessens these occurrences, which improves how those outside this project view us. If we have no concern for outsiders then it makes this a purely academic exercise, something that really doesn’t interest me.

To recap the benefits of the 70-and Out rule:

1) It’s a perfect way to highlight and revive the old time candidates.

2) It gives the electorate credit for being able to prioritize candidates.

3) Focus is towards serious candidates and away from lost causes.

4) Voters are freed from having to vote for players that nearly everyone else has rejected.

5) It makes it more likely that deserving candidates who are just off-ballot now will find their way on to ballots.

6) HoMers are less likely to be elected by a minority of voters, so we appear rational to outside observers.

To me, it is clear that the 70-and-Out rule is an improvement to our process. Sure, you could say that it’s not necessary, that we’ll get along fine without it. But, when presented with a low-cost opportunity to upgrade your system, why not go for it? There is no downside, it’s just fixing things so that voters will temporarily stop voting for the loonng-time, low quality candidates.
   21. David C. Jones Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:06 AM (#1309636)
I still don't like it. To me, the simpler, more elegant solution is the one we already have: voters pick the top 15 candidates who are not already enshrined, period. No need for strategic voting to keep someone from falling off the ballot, or tracking when a "dormant" candidacy comes back on, or knowing who the dormant candidates are. If I'm convinced that Ned Williamson should be on my ballot, I don't think I'd like the idea of everybody else telling me that not only will they not also support his candidacy, but they will deprive me of the right to vote for him as well.
   22. Ardo Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:17 AM (#1309640)
DanG's "70-and-out" rule does not appeal to me. That said, I have mixed feelings on the greater issue that Dan has raised.

1) First, I'm not as worried as many voters are about a fragmented election. Simply put, obvious HoMers come into the pipeline quite often - thus the very presence of a backlog in the 'year' 1951.

Last year was a fight between three clearly Meritious players; this year, we will most likely elect the leftover (Cronin) and one newcomer (Foxx). In '52 we get three more clearly Meritious players (Dickey, Gibson, Ott), &c.

2) I support the extension of the ballot to 20 places. As of now, I have players that I consider worthy of HoM induction (Schang, Leach, Redding, Van Haltren) just outside of my top 15. Counting and graphing 16-20 votes would broaden the consensus on any one player.

3) One reason that I oppose the 70-and-out rule is my relative newness to the process. I am more than a casual fan, but I will never be a serious scholar of the Negro Leagues or a full-time sabermetrician.

Comparing players from different eras, leagues, and conditions to each other (Rick Ferrell or Deacon McGuire? Dave Bancroft or Dick Lundy? Charley Jones or Bob Johnson?) have greatly sharpened my [crude] analytic methods. I look forward to Jake Beckley/Fred McGriff HoM debates in 2006 or 2007.
   23. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:55 AM (#1309658)
I'll just throw in my 2 cents and say that I'm overwhelmingly against any kind of term limits, to such a degree that a rule like that would make me significantly less likely to continue participating in HOM. (Not that my participation record has been stellar as it is.)

I just think it's an abominably bad idea. To me, at least, it wholly violates the spirit in which the HOM was founded -- the principle that you can vote for who you think the best player is, period.

As for expanding the ballot, I wouldn't mind too much one way or the other. On one hand, aesthetically it would be nice to be able to have the voting format be the same across the entire project. On the other hand, there certainly guys I'd like to vote for who I'm currently unable to.
   24. Paul Wendt Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:19 AM (#1309698)
Finally, I don’t think we want to get into a pattern of electing players who are supported by a minority of the electorate. It then appears that most of the voters have “rejected” him, when in reality they simply didn’t have room on their ballot to support him. The 70-and-Out proposal lessens these occurrences, which improves how those outside this project view us.

[Recap 1,2,3,...]

6) HoMers are less likely to be elected by a minority of voters, so we appear rational to outside observers.


This "problem" may be solved with little effect on the outcomes, only on the share of voters who list each winning candidate. Expand the ballot to 20 rankings and award 5,4,3,2,1 points to #16 to #20 (rather than recreate the 5-point bonus for making the last spot on someone's ballot).
   25. EricC Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:09 AM (#1309757)
From post #18:

Eric C chimed in:

For the record, it wasn't me.
   26. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:58 AM (#1309780)
I would also add that changing the election rules midstream is something the HOF has done frequently, with disastrous results. The HOM was a well-conceived idea from the get-go, and I don't see the need to change something that was very well thought out to begin with, and has worked well.
   27. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 04, 2005 at 01:01 PM (#1309855)
Perpetual eligibility today, perpetual eligibility tommorrow, perpetual eligibility forever.

Based on the way I look at it, the induction structure of the HoM (1 inductee for many early years, 3-4 for later years) was designed to have people stay eligible forever.
   28. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 01:18 PM (#1309874)
Post #20 probably should have been the lead to this thread, before the negative reactions began to gain momentum. Many of the comments before this are due to a misunderstanding of the proposal.

IMO, the benefits of the proposal are being brushed aside out of hand. While I didn't really expect the 70-and-Out proposal to be welcomed with open arms, I at least hoped it would be fully considered.

The benefits:
1) It’s a perfect way to highlight and revive the old time candidates.

2) It gives the electorate credit for being able to prioritize candidates.

3) Focus is towards serious candidates and away from lost causes.

4) Voters are freed from having to vote for players that nearly everyone else has rejected.

5) It makes it more likely that deserving candidates who are just off-ballot now will find their way on to ballots.

6) HoMers are less likely to be elected by a minority of voters, so we appear rational to outside observers.

Some comments have touched upon numbers 5 and 6 while numbers 1-4 have not been addressed.

As for "changing the election rules midstream", this would not be the first time. Anyway, the only real effect would be to keep the dormant players more in people's consciousness. The truism "out of sight, out of mind" has been proven by the voting pattern of long-time candidates.

IOW, it's a Good Thing if a player drops off the ballot for awhile. Rather than hopelessly dribbling along with 2 or 3 votes year after year, he benefits by the scrutiny that normally only new candidates get. Right or wrong, that is how it works.
   29. fra paolo Posted: May 04, 2005 at 01:18 PM (#1309875)
FWIW, the absence of term limits was the main reason I declined to participate in the project, putting me on the other end of the spectrum from Mr Definitely Immoral, as one might expect given our handles. (Another was the limited number of electees each year. I preferred the threshhold approach of the BBWAA.)

I deeply believe that the first test a player needs to pass en route to the Hall of whatever is the one against his peers. If he can't meet that standard, he doesn't deserve to be in.

Consequently, I tend to look askance at Veterans’ Committee HoF picks.

However, I don't think it's right to change the rules of anything at a stage like this.
   30. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 01:47 PM (#1309910)
'Expand the ballot to 20 rankings and award 5,4,3,2,1 points to #16 to #20 (rather than recreate the 5-point bonus for making the last spot on someone's ballot). '

Even if we stick with 15, I would agree with removing the 5-point ballot bonus. Can anyone really say that #15 on their ballot is substantially better than #16? I can't even say #10 is substantially better than #20 on my ballot. That said, I am in favor of increasing to 20. I don't think I fully realized in the beginning how deep the backlog(of borderline candidates) would be by now and I can only imagine what it will look like when we reach present day. I think alot of the problems with the HoF stem from limited eligibility. Granted, I trust this group to get things right in the 1st place and not leave great players like Santo, Grich, Minoso, etc on the outside looking in(a little preview of guys I'll be stumping for later) in the first place, but it is still possible. More importantly though is the spirit the constitution was written in; did we ever intend that players would eventually become ineligible? As I recall, perpetual eligibility was one of our founding principals. I remember someone running a mock HoM to present and having Pud Galvin not go in until 2000 or 2001. Why end the chance of this happening? And why, if someone believes that Ned Williamson is 1 of the top 15 players not in, should that voter not be allowed to vote for him? I foresee some protest votes if someone's pet player is made ineligible. Say you've got someone who is #15 on your list and he's ineligible, you might vote for Clay Bellinger(its also 1 of our founding principals to pick on Clay) in protest. I'm not saying I would do that, but someone might; and I know I wouldn't be happy if I were told to remove a player I thought belonged there.
I think that the lack of support for some highly ranked players is more of a sign that our ballots are too short for the number of eligible player than that there are too many eligible.
   31. andrew siegel Posted: May 04, 2005 at 02:44 PM (#1310003)
I am very strongly against imposing term limits at this point. I just think perpetual eligibility was one of the cornerstones of the project.

As for expanding the ballot, I am neutral. I have always said that I would favor expansion in the same election where we start electing three, but can go along with it earlier if the rest of you guys prefer.

If we expand the ballot, we need to consider a variety of scoring systems. In addition to those proposed above, we might want to consider everybody naming their 15-20 players and 21-25 players in groups (as many do already) and giving three or four points for being in the first group and one or two points for being in the second.
   32. PhillyBooster Posted: May 04, 2005 at 03:06 PM (#1310059)
I'd be interested to hear whether any proponents of term limits have a response to Chris Cobb's #8 ("77 votes were given to candidates who received less than 10% of the vote. In 1965, when the marginal candidates will be getting up near the top again, 21 of those votes would have been excluded by this rule. That's less than 1 per 2 voters, not enough, I think to raise significantly the percentage of the vote received by the candidates with a serious chance at election.")and my related #16F (votes will only shift from early lost causes to more recent lost causes).

If the concern is that candidates will be elected by a minority of voters/votes, I think that both proponents and opponents would agree that a fatal argument against is "Your plan will not fix the flaw you identified."
   33. Daryn Posted: May 04, 2005 at 03:27 PM (#1310101)
To answer Marc's question, it is a phenomenon, not a problem. The system works. None of the changes suggested will fix the system. It appears to me that it is unlikely that any of the changes suggested will alter the complement of the Hall of Merit by even one person.
   34. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 03:33 PM (#1310119)
A few quick responses.

"As I recall, perpetual eligibility was one of our founding principals."
"I just think perpetual eligibility was one of the cornerstones of the project."


Which is exactly what I said in #20. The proposal does not eliminate perpetual eligibility.

"someone running a mock HoM to present and having Pud Galvin not go in until 2000 or 2001. Why end the chance of this happening? And why, if someone believes that Ned Williamson is 1 of the top 15 players not in, should that voter not be allowed to vote for him?"

I'm arguing that as our rules are now, there is no chance of our electing a long-time candidate. We are becoming exactly like the HOF VC in that regard. I'm saying that if there is any hope for Ryan, McCormick, Williamson and other essentially already-dormant candidacies to receive notice it is to renew their eligibility at occasional intervals. The leading old-timers like Griffith, Jennings, Van Haltren, Beckley will not go dormant under the proposal. (I would actually favor term limits and renewal for them as well, but decided not to go there. IMO, the opportunity for them to be elected has passed them by.)

"Your plan will not fix the flaw [i.e., low election percentages] you identified."

Though I personally favor term limits that would "fix the flaw", as you put it, I decided not to propose a plan to that extreme. Anyway, that was only one benefit of the proposal.
   35. PhillyBooster Posted: May 04, 2005 at 03:34 PM (#1310125)
Put another way: Assume a future election where a Top 2 elected candidate would receive only 40% of the votes/max. points from 54 electors (22 votes/ 518 points). Our stated goal is to get him (or a competitor) up to 50% (27 votes/ 648 points).

To get 5 the extra 130 points (or more, if the 3rd place candidate is going to pass him), we'd need to eliminate 22 guys receiving 1 vote, and that's assuming that all of those voters have the same guy at #16.

To actually increase some top candidate's vote total by 20% (40% to 50%), you'd need to eliminate a huge number of competitors.
   36. ronw Posted: May 04, 2005 at 03:59 PM (#1310220)
We've had 45-50 voters for many, many years now. I agree with yest, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. (Also, George Davis bites, no, wait a minute, I don't agree with him on that.)


Yes, fragmentation will be an issue, and borderline candidates will be elected. That is inevitable, whether the HOM is 213 players or 10 players. As sunnyday2 predicts in Nostradamine fashion:

A many-headed monster shall elevate one whom has only been digested by a few mouths.

Or, we will elect someone supported by a minority of individuals. The question is, how much of a minority. Is it possible for someone to be elected with only 10%, 20%, 30% support? I think that 40% might be the low. If 40% of this group thinks someone is worthy enough for election, that is OK by me.

For the record, I vote Perpetual Eligibility, no ballot expansion.
   37. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 04:13 PM (#1310287)
Philly, I realize all that. It's why I wrote, "I have a suggestion to subtly relieve the pressure in this direction." You're right, if that were the primary focus of the proposal, it fails to fix the flaw. By pointing this out, I assume you're not arguing for a more extreme fix, but merely trying to discredit the 70-and-Out proposal.

However, you should be aware of something missed by you and Chris in the mathematical projecting. By the 1970's, when the proposal might actually affect someone voters care about, our ballots will be much more fractious. There will be a lot more players getting <10% support than we had in 1950.

One thing to see is if we adopted this proposal, not one ballot would change in 1951. Nobody cares if Dick McBride, Wes Fisler or George Zettlein is a viable candidate. Harry Wright is dormant after 1952 under this proposal. When's the last time he had more than one vote, or any votes? But it may force a re-examination of his credentials, which would be a benefit.
   38. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 04:17 PM (#1310304)
Again, this still only achieves the 'illusion of consensus' since you are forcing a minimum of 22 voters to vote for someone other than the guy they believe belongs there. This change would purely be for aesthetic purposes so those who want strong consensus' will be able to look at the results and say that every HoMer received at least x% of the vote. Guess what, not everyone is Babe Ruth. There are alot of borderline candidates who aren't going to be supported by everyone. Some will get in and some won't. We should be more concerned with getting things right rather than forcing a fake consensus. Why is throwing Ryan to the wolves to improve Van Haltren's and Duffy's chances a desired result? Do you see that people who believe Ryan is just as good as the other 2(myself included) aren't going to change that opinion just because you make Ryan ineligible?
I guess I don't see why electing players on less than 50% of the ballots is such a problem when they are getting more support than the rest of the eligibles? The way I see it, you can have 1 of 2 problems with this: 1)You think the points are being distributed incorrectly so that a player with strong support from a few voters is beating out a player with weak support from many voters or vice versa. Reducing the eligible players does nothing to solve this, if this is your issue. You should be arguing to change the point system. 2)You think there are more than 15 players worthy of a ballot spot and support is split among various players by the electorate as a result. If this is your issue, the logical solution is to expand the ballot, not restrict it.
Removing players from the eligible list will give you a consensus, but it will be a false consensus because you can no longer trust that every voter is giving you their actual opinion. At least right now, when I look at someone's ballot, I believe that that is his opinion on who the top 15 are and the order that voter believes they should be in. I don't believe Jake Beckley should be #1 on a ballot, but I do believe that it is Karlmagnus' honest opinion that he does(not to pick on you karl, thats the only example I could think of off the top of my head). If we take away those eligible players, we will lose that ballot integrity and we won't be able to regain it. I'd rather see a guy elected on only 30% of ballots(even if he's not on mine) than lose my faith in the integrity of the system.
   39. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 04:29 PM (#1310365)
ps I don't think Beckley would become ineligible under your system, that was just an example of a player whom I am involved in a disagreement over.
   40. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 04:47 PM (#1310446)
Carl:

Actually, what the proposal offers is an embracing of the group consensus. Our learned electorate has reached a clear consensus that (e.g.) Ed Williamson is not a HoMer. Even at the nadir of the candidate gap he only climbed as high as 25th. Now he's virtually invisible. Why not acknowledge this? Why can't we trust the electorate?

This 'illusion of consensus' is what we have always had. It is intrinsic to our system, so that many (most?) of our electees have been elected with a minority of voters listing them in "elect me" positions on their ballot. If this were truly undesirable we would have adopted a HOF-type system.

Again, all this I addressed in post #20, listing the benefits:
2) It gives the electorate credit for being able to prioritize candidates.

3) Focus is towards serious candidates and away from lost causes.

4) Voters are freed from having to vote for players that nearly everyone else has rejected.

It is intrinsic to our system to be unconcerned with voters who disagree with the consensus. Once we elected Pike, Caruthers, Terry, etc., those who disagree have no recourse. This is a similar thing in reverse: we're not too concerned with the minority who disagree, once those with negligible support are dormant. However, unlike the "mistakes" who get elected, who can't be recalled, the candidates who we reject will be recalled.
   41. Evan Posted: May 04, 2005 at 04:57 PM (#1310488)
It is also worth noting that while the 5 point "ballot bonus" seems high (I always felt it seemed like a lot for the guy in 15th), there are maybe 2 elections where it has really come into play in any meaningful way. In 1942, Rixey was close, but even if he finished 16th on every ballot he wasn't named on, at 5 points each, he still loses. In 1932, Van Haltren would have needed to be 16th on 12 ballots - not impossible, but extremely unlikely.

Considering his overall level of support, Joe Sewell probably would have been elected in 1940 if 16th-20th place votes had been tallied. Not a huge change, no matter how you look at it.

I support this, if only because it removes some of the arbitrariness to a 15th place cutoff. (And as the author of the ballot tallier, I'll commit to updating it, too...)
   42. Paul Wendt Posted: May 04, 2005 at 05:16 PM (#1310542)
I suspect that two premises are crucial for Dan Greenia here.

First, the HOM might be influential. Dan and some others are engaged here (and in "The HOM Half-Time Show!") as stewards of its credibility.

Second, consider "benefits" 4 and 5:
4) Voters are freed from having to vote for players that nearly everyone else has rejected.
5) It makes it more likely that deserving candidates who are just off-ballot now will find their way on to ballots.


Another crucial premise, I suspect, is that some voters have "freed" themselves (contra the constitution) and relegated a "lost cause" or two whom they genuinely rank among the most worthy 15; and that more voters will do so as time passes; that new voters will do so in effect by neglecting to consider very old-timers.

--
For what it's worth:

I agree with EE #23, aesthetically it would be nice to be able to have the voting format be the same across the entire project.

I don't believe there is any difference for the credibility of the project if a change such as this is made 0-5 rather than 10-15 years in advance of a serious problem.
   43. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 05:22 PM (#1310557)
'2) It gives the electorate credit for being able to prioritize candidates.

3) Focus is towards serious candidates and away from lost causes.

4) Voters are freed from having to vote for players that nearly everyone else has rejected.'

2)How can it give the electorate credit when it doesn't give the individual voters who make up the electorate any credit? There are individuals who believe that Williamson is ballot-worthy.
3)read: Focus is towards the preferred candidates of the electorate as a whole and away from those that the individual voters may find meritorious.
4)This sounds like something straight out of the Communist Manifesto. Voters are freed from thinking for themselves?! To paraphrase my mother; if the rest of the electorate decides to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, will a resolution be introduced making it manditory for me to do so as well? Off topic; why, when I grew up in Milwaukee would all of my friends jump off the Brooklyn Bridge? Couldn't my mother have tailored this to the jumping off the Hoan Bridge or into Lake Michigan? I never got this.
   44. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:07 PM (#1310683)
"2)How can it give the electorate credit when it doesn't give the individual voters who make up the electorate any credit? There are individuals who believe that Williamson is ballot-worthy.
3)read: Focus is towards the preferred candidates of the electorate as a whole and away from those that the individual voters may find meritorious."


Again, it is in the spirit of embracing the consensus, rather than denying it. It's giving the decisions made by thegroup the proper respect. This is not the American Presidential election; votes and debate are open, in the aim towards a consensus.

"4)This sounds like something straight out of the Communist Manifesto. Voters are freed from thinking for themselves?!"

Paul Wendt answered this in #42: "Another crucial premise, I suspect, is that some voters have "freed" themselves (contra the constitution) and relegated a "lost cause" or two whom they genuinely rank among the most worthy 15; and that more voters will do so as time passes; that new voters will do so in effect by neglecting to consider very old-timers."
   45. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:18 PM (#1310719)
'Again, it is in the spirit of embracing the consensus, rather than denying it. It's giving the decisions made by thegroup the proper respect.'

But don't you see that the 'group' doesn't exist without the individual members and you're not giving them their proper respect. You're seeing the forest, but not the trees. The implication here(and I'm sure it is not intended) is that voters who disagree with the 'consensus' are somehow less expert than those that do. Since they will not change their ballots willingly, they need to be guided along the 'correct' path by the more intelligent 'consensus'.
Along a similar vein, the 'consensus' actually loses its meaning and deserves less respect when the individual members are less free to choose the most meritorious players for their ballots.
The way we give the group consensus its proper respect is to respect the final results(ie those players deemed meritorious by the group) and to uphold the integrity of the ballots that make up the 'group consensus'.
   46. David C. Jones Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:49 PM (#1310820)
Yeah, count me among those who find this type of argument about "respecting the consensus" completely repulsive and incredibly arrogant. Sorry, but this sort of rule would significantly detract from my enthusiasm for this project, and I might even decide to drop out again.
   47. PhillyBooster Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1310833)
Also, have you considered that some of us are counting on fragmented voting to get our guys elected?

The nine of us who are still voting for Jose Mendez may never get the extra 30 votes needed to elect him today, but if can just fracture the ballot enough so that no one else can get ten votes either . . .
   48. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 06:58 PM (#1310839)
Individuals are given free reign to discuss candidates and stump for whomever they wish. IMO, 70 years is more than adequate, granting the individual voter all the license necessary to achieve our desired results.

By doing this, we show due respect for both the forest (the integrity of the project) and the trees (the individuals in our expert electorate).

For the good of the forest, we elect a Bill Terry over the will of a given individual. Likewise, we should be able to sit down a player for the good of the forest over the will of a given individual.

By allowing rejected players to take votes from more meritorious players (as defined by the consensus) we are not properly pruning our forest. The rogue deer are allowed to degrade the pristine qualities of our Eden.
   49. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 07:09 PM (#1310863)
Yeah, count me among those who find this type of argument about "respecting the consensus" completely repulsive and incredibly arrogant.

If having confidence and pride in the quality job that our electorate is doing makes me arrogant, then so be it.
   50. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 07:10 PM (#1310866)
Except we're voting who goes in, not who stays out. If someone had Bill Terry 16th on their ballot the year he was elected, that doesn't necessarily mean they don't think he belongs, just that they think he went in too early and that 15 eligible players were better. You're talking about stripping voters of the right to vote for a player who they feel is top 15-worthy simply because the 'almighty consensus' doesn't agree.

'For the good of the forest, we elect a Bill Terry over the will of a given individual. Likewise, we should be able to sit down a player for the good of the forest over the will of a given individual.'

Terry received more points than anyone else did in a fair election where everyone was free to rank the players as they saw fit. We won't be able to say that once 'the consensus' has tampered with the player pool.
   51. Chris Cobb Posted: May 04, 2005 at 07:12 PM (#1310871)
I have no comments on group-think, fascism, communism, capitalism, American democracy, consensus, respect for individuals, respect for the collective, Paradise, or the Fall of man to add to the discussion :-).

However, I would like to ask Dan if he has a projection of how much farther the voting will have fragmented by 1965. Are we talking 90 candidates getting votes? 100?

I ask this question in part because the ballot expansion idea, which has received a number of favorable comments and few strongly opposed comments, is one that Dan advanced about 15 election cycles back, looking ahead to the voting conditions we would be encountering now. At that time, there was little support for it. Now that we actually see what the voting in the 1950s is like, it seems to be getting a better reception. I hope discussion of it will continue alongside the discussion of Dan's current proposal.

Although I'm not in favor of the removal/renewal of eligibility plan at present, I'd like to hear more about what Dan foresees in about 15 election cycles.
   52. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 07:13 PM (#1310873)
'If having confidence and pride in the quality job that our electorate is doing makes me arrogant, then so be it.'

You say that, yet you propose that they be on a tighter leash. This is not respect.
   53. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:05 PM (#1311009)
I have no comments on group-think, fascism, communism, capitalism, American democracy, consensus, respect for individuals, respect for the collective, Paradise, or the Fall of man to add to the discussion :-).

You are wise. Fools rush in....

However, I would like to ask Dan if he has a projection of how much farther the voting will have fragmented by 1965. Are we talking 90 candidates getting votes? 100?

I don't really have a reliable number. However, IMO the number will continue to expand throughout the project. Maybe sunnyday2 has looked at this.

Some thoughts. Look first at a simplified history. Number of players receiving votes, years ending in "0":

1900 32
1910 39
1920 47
1930 54
1940 62
1950 67

By this, we're adding 7 guys every decade. This projects us to about 78 by 1965.

The tide of Negro league candidates will have ended by then. This contributes to an upcoming candidate gap. However, we will be into an issue that the group seems very divided on: credit and discredit for WW2 era players. So I really have no guess whether that 78 is high or low.

I ask this question in part because the ballot expansion idea,

I'm glad the ballot expansion idea is finding support. An expansion to 20 with 5,4,3,2,1 points assigned is easily done. A logical start would be 1953, the beginning of the 2nd half.
   54. Al Peterson Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:20 PM (#1311051)
I'm someone who tends to have one or two "rejected" players on my ballot most years. Yet if you told me that those people were no longer eligible I'd be fine with it.

When doing the work for a ballot my system creates an order for players. I truly believe the order produced is right, knowing the system has probable flaws. So I write out the order and move on with my life. If people now want to say Player X is ineligible then let me remove him from the list - guys are lined up behind waiting to crack the top 15. I'm not going to take it personal that I'm the last man standing in the Tony Mullane corner.

More than anything I enjoy the walk through history. So many good stories, anecdotes, and pieces of information come out as new players come eligible. That won't change if we exclude so-and-so or get 25 person ballots.
   55. Chris Cobb Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:28 PM (#1311058)
I'm glad the ballot expansion idea is finding support. An expansion to 20 with 5,4,3,2,1 points assigned is easily done. A logical start would be 1953, the beginning of the 2nd half.

I am, too. We'll see if it holds as people start looking at it as something that might really happen.

Starting in 1953 would have a certain elegance.

I like the the idea not only as a way of dealing with low ballot totals for electees but also as a way of getting the ballot closer the what I find to be the reality of the quality distribution right now: there's just not enough difference between #15 and #16, or between #20 and #21 to justify an "on-ballot" bonus. I still support the "elect-me" spot bonus, though. I think even in "weak years," it makes sense to give a distinction to the players one believes are truly the best available.

By this, we're adding 7 guys every decade. This projects us to about 78 by 1965.

That seems like a reasonable way of reaching an estimate. The removal process would remove about 10, so assuming that other marginal candidates didn't get the votes going to these fallowed candidates, the 10% after 70 years rule would probably tend to stabilize the pool at about it current size, or at least slow its rate of expansion significantly.

The tide of Negro league candidates will have ended by then. This contributes to an upcoming candidate gap. However, we will be into an issue that the group seems very divided on: credit and discredit for WW2 era players. So I really have no guess whether that 78 is high or low.

The WWII credit question could spread things further, indeed. I think handling the issue of WWII credit well is going to be as important to the success of the project as handling the NeL candidates has been. I hope that by the time this becomes a _major_ issue, we will have reached a level of agreement similar to the one we have reached on the NeL candidates.
   56. DanG Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:30 PM (#1311061)
"You say that, yet you propose that they be on a tighter leash. This is not respect."

This is becoming a glass half full/half empty debate. It's also related to the distinction between freedom and license.

Some people feel that being denied the right to own nuclear weapons is an intolerable restriction.

IOW, if I haven't convinced Carl of the benefits to be gained by the proposal by this point, it ain't happening.
   57. Carl G Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:38 PM (#1311084)
And if I haven't convinced you that those 'benefits' are an illusion by this point, I guess that's not going to happen either.
   58. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:39 PM (#1311093)
Yeah, count me among those who find this type of argument about "respecting the consensus" completely repulsive and incredibly arrogant.

I disagree, David; I think Dan is genuine in his desire to improve our election process, and I am always appreciative of such efforts regardless of how misguided I feel they are.

I think the proposal is an awful one, but I certainly don't find it "repulsive," or to be indicative any kind of moral failing on his part.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: May 04, 2005 at 08:41 PM (#1311103)
I like the 70-year rule; I have in the past voiced my own quibbles about hopeless causes. I tend to have a high consensus because I get bored with certain players.
If that seems odd, well, my feeling is that many of the 'hopeless causes' deserved votes earlier in the process, but can't realistically keep up with the current crop.
After all, the top contemporaries of the earlier guys all got elected already. I've been a leading proponent of Mickey Welch, but he slides slowly down my ballot as more and more stud players come along. I think that's a more realistic evaluation of these players.

P.S. I had Dihigo second well before the DJones tide rose; it's funny how often that happens (and I know it isn't people 'copying my ballot,' which is why it's so funny!).

But I'll stick around either way; the consensus around here seems to be the best possible result for a lot of things..
   60. Chris Cobb Posted: May 04, 2005 at 09:11 PM (#1311205)
If Dan and Carl have agreed to disagree on the philosophical point on how to protect the voter's freedom, let me re-raise the practical question:

Is there a point at which low voter support for the top candidates because the vote is being spread more and more widely substantially increases our risk of making bad choices because of arbitrary factors that happen to raise this or that candidate to the top at the right time?

If there is, does it benefit the HoM project to alter the election system to enable a more accurate assessment of the true views of the voters?

I think there probably is this danger: the more mathematically minded among us could probably find a way to express it quantitatively. If this danger is there (although it's clearly not a problem for the 1950s), how to address it?

Here's a way of stating the problem in practical terms. Say there are three candidates in competition for two HoM slots. You have these candidates ranked at 8, 17, and 74 out of 197 eligible players you have taken the time to put in rank order.

The system we have in place allows your preference for candidate A over candidates B and C to be registered as part of the election, but it doesn't allow your marked preference for B over C to be registered. When the top candidates aren't getting voted on, the amount of knowledge from the electorate that is contributing to the group's decisions is diminished, and the voter's freedom to apply his or her knowledge to the election is diminished. Thus, the greater chance of error.

Dan G's proposal of fallowing candidates offers voters a tradeoff of freedoms. You lose the freedom to vote for a few players who have no chance of election in order to have a greater opportunity to register your real preferences for the candidates whom the electorate as a whole agrees are the top candidates. Depending on the voter's other rankings, this change might get candidate B onto the ballot in the example above.

Expanding the ballot to 20 spots would also enable voters to more freely and fully register their preferences. The real difference in this voter's assessment of candidates B and C in the example would be registered with a larger ballot.

Going to a run-off model would accomplish the same thing to a much greater degree. If, say, the top vote-getters failed appear on at least 50% or 45% or 35% of the ballots (the threshold could be discussed), a run-off among the top 5 (or 3 or 10) candidates could be held, in which those players only are voted on by everyone, according to some formula. So the fact that candidate C is dead last in this voter's view no matter what the system will now be in some degree registered when it might make a difference.

I believe that, given our present knowledge about the challenges facing our election system, going to a 20-person ballot would be a meaningful change to address the challenges we expect to face in the 1960s. I think the fallowing proposal is insufficiently meaningful to justify the restrictions it proposes. I think that a run-off system might be valuable at some point, though I think more discussion about low election thresholds is needed.

I hope everyone will recognize that not being able to register what one believes to be a meaningful distinction between two players as part of the voting process _is_ a limitation on voter freedom and one that Dan's proposal would address, at the cost of some bit of other freedoms the voters now enjoy.
   61. OCF Posted: May 04, 2005 at 09:27 PM (#1311245)
PhillyBooster said:

The nine of us who are still voting for Jose Mendez may never get the extra 30 votes needed to elect him today, but if can just fracture the ballot enough so that no one else can get ten votes either . . .

For me, that's Larry Doyle (7 ballots in 1950). The only real chance for Mendez or Doyle is for those who advocate them to succeed in changing the minds of a significant number of other voters. When I vote for someone like that, I feel as a weight the fact that most others don't agree - but if it's truly what I think, then I have to vote that way.

There's another side: I usually list my votes down to about #25, sometimes a little further. In 1950, I had Mendez at #24. So if we expanded to 20 people on the ballot, I wouldn't have had Mendez on my ballot - but clear a few people off the front, hit a slack year, and he will get into my top 20.

The "on the ballot" bonus"- 6 points for 15th, none for 16th - is a tricky thing. It never makes any sense in terms of your own ballot. I had Duffy 15th, Childs 16th. It's absurd to report my opinion as gung-ho for Duffy and totally against Childs, but there is that gap. But on the whole: a person I don't vote for could be Childs, or Mendez - candidates who could get a vote for me if I tilted my head a little differently. Or that candidate could be Sam Leever - nowhere close to gettng a vote from me. The intent of the "on ballot" bonus is to penalize someone like either Childs or Leever because you don't know which one I have 100th rather than 16th.

Count me as against any automatic disqualification mechanism. Leave eligibility perpetual, and leave it to our powers of persuation over each other. Meet the intent of of Dan's proposal socially, with an appeal to all of us not to be too stubborn.

As for the second proposal, a 20-candidate ballot with no "on ballot" bonus: that would have to increase the number of candidates voted for. My own #16-20 (Childs, Bridges, Bell, Roush, Sisler) wouldn't have added to the length of the list, but there have to be other voters for which it would. But it might give a better measure of breadth of support. I don't care strongly about this one way or the other, but am leaning in favor of it. (Yes, I would have to re-do the consensus scores spreadsheet, and the absolute numbers would shift a little and not quite be comparable.)
   62. DavidFoss Posted: May 04, 2005 at 09:32 PM (#1311260)
Is there a point at which low voter support for the top candidates because the vote is being spread more and more widely substantially increases our risk of making bad choices because of arbitrary factors that happen to raise this or that candidate to the top at the right time?

Of course, this isn't a problem at the moment because we have a solid group of five candidates each year that we are all near consensus on.

It may help to look back at the 1939 (Faber first ballot with a single #1 vote), 1940 (Pike squeaks past Sewell) and 1942 (Terry inducted -- 65 players get votes) results and try to extrapolate what 1965 might look like. We won't change the results of those elections, but future elections of the same type would certainly be affected by a change in voting rules.
   63. jingoist Posted: May 04, 2005 at 09:46 PM (#1311307)
Here here!
I'm incredibly impressed while reading the well-crafted and lucid comments of the representatives of the electorate body in this blogstream.

As I sit back and listen to the thought process and the logic being employed to persuade one-another to think from varying perspectives about the subject matter at hand, it is truly encouraging that each of you are doing your level best to select the correct candidates for election to this baseball honor roll.

Very impressive, gentlemen.
You can be justifiably proud that you have so taken this arduous process to heart.
I believe that the results will ultimately be awe-inspiring; the commitment you've made to do so will no doubt be personally gratifying.
   64. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 04, 2005 at 09:57 PM (#1311340)
I am receptive to the longer ballot and am ambivalent to the 70 and out rule so long as it never knocks Hughie Jennings out of competition. So maybe I am against the 70 and out rule.

A few ideas:

1. Instead of 10% of all ballots, could be make it 10% of all points or something that will allow players with small but loyal followings to remain? I can see a scenario where Jennings (or Bekcley or Welch, two guys I will never vote for) will be on say, 9% of ballots but those 9% all have him him in their top 5 or top 7. Would it be fair to lump them in with a Tony Mullane or an (N)Ed Williamson?

2. I kinda like the longer ballot. I don't think it would take any more work as I rank out to #50 anyway and know that many other even go further. However, I do like a ballot bonus, I believe it forces me to really think about at last spot and get it right. So if we do elect to go with a bigger ballot I think the point structure may need a change because I am not sure I favor a 5-4-3-2-1 set at this point. The difference between #20 (1 point) and #21 (0 points) is so small that I can't see it ever making the difference in an election, so why do it?
   65. Howie Menckel Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:02 PM (#1311350)
Hypothetically, one could have a system whereby a certain number of career points (2500?) before the 70-year threshold entitles one to permanent consideration. So a candidate with some 300-400 pt efforts before a fade could stay, as could a consistent 100-150 pt guy.

But I don't think the tide is at all in favor of any limitation, at least for now.
   66. David C. Jones Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:09 PM (#1311368)
Eric,

That's fine, but I still think it's arrogant, and I can't help but be repulsed by it. I wouldn't have used those terms initially to describe the proposal, and didn't, but after reading about how individual voters should be taught "respect" for the "consensus," I concluded the position was one based primarily on arrogance (i.e. we know who the right candidates are and need to prune the forest, because you are using your "license" to pick unworthy trees), and stand by that position. I don't know if Dan is an arrogant individual, since I don't know him, but I do feel very strongly that the rationale for his plan is very arrogant.

So what if there is a diversity of candidates? That's the way baseball history is. There just isn't that much difference between many of these guys that we're talking about, and let me add that as someone who has never voted for Williamson, I would never endorse any statement which concluded that he was clearly not HOM-worthy. I will say right now that if this proposal were to be enacted, I would put Williamson #15 on my ballot, and encourage others to do likewise, to "save" his candidacy. I would continue to do this for any candidate threatened with the ax. Since artificially restricting the player pool negates the authenticity of future ballots in favor of "consensus", I might as well subvert the process by keeping the player pool as large as possible. That is the way I would use my ballot if this proposal were enacted.

Also, FWIW I think the more candidates who get support, the better. I don't have any problem with 45 ballots containing 65 or 70 names, or more, so long as the voters remain engaged in a dialogue on the candidates.
   67. David C. Jones Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:13 PM (#1311379)
I'll also add that I'm against expanding the ballot, simply because I don't see the need to do so. None of the arguments advanced so far seem very convincing that there is any particular need to do this.
   68. DavidFoss Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:31 PM (#1311430)
I'll also add that I'm against expanding the ballot, simply because I don't see the need to do so. None of the arguments advanced so far seem very convincing that there is any particular need to do this.

Imagine an election in 1965 where 60 people vote. The inductee appears on 20 ballots, the runner-up also appears on 20 ballots. Maybe only 10-15 have put both on the ballot. Maybe as many as 25-30 ended up voting for neither.

Has an election like that garnered enough feedback from its voters? Can someone with little support (read -- low average ballot placement) end up 'stealing' such an election?
   69. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:35 PM (#1311441)
Imagine an election in 1965 where 60 people vote.

If it's '65, I'll be too busy having my diaper changed. :-)
   70. David C. Jones Posted: May 04, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1311480)
I'm comfortable with whatever results the current system now in places gives us. There isn't any candidate who receives anything like the breadth of support required for induction whom I would say is definitely not a HOMer. The guy I probably rate the lowest is Beckley, but that's only because I value peak over career.

In fact, looking at the 1950 election, the first guy who shows up who I feel is definitely not a HOMer is Tommy Bridges, and he finished in 35th place. After that, I have no problem with any candidate getting elected until Fred Dunlap in 47th place. From there most of the candidates look undeserving to me. But that's 45 of the top 46 candidates who, while I don't personally support most of them, would have no problem with them getting in. All of those 45 players have aspects of their resume that look HOM-worthy to me.

So in other words, I have a hard time envisioning any scenario where the current system will produce a result which A.) elects a candidate with weak support and B.) the elected candidate is undeserving of induction. And I would only have a problem with an election if both conditions (A and B) were met.
   71. PhillyBooster Posted: May 04, 2005 at 11:06 PM (#1311530)
Some thoughts. Look first at a simplified history. Number of players receiving votes, years ending in "0": PLUS extra info, such as number of voters (to the best I could figure), and the semi-junk-stat of "players per voter".

1900 32/ 35/ 0.91
1910 39/ 43/ 0.91
1920 47/ 45/ 1.04
1930 54/ 51/ 1.06
1940 62/ 47/ 1.32
1950 67/ 53/ 1.26

It looks to me that most of the change in players voted for has to do with an increase in the number of voters. There was a single jump in the 1920s (due likely to the extreme lack of solid new candidates) and otherwise the rate has been pretty constant.
   72. PhillyBooster Posted: May 04, 2005 at 11:11 PM (#1311558)
I also wanted to point out that the two issues being discussed -- player limitation and expanded ballots -- will work at cross purposes.

Expanding ballots will lead to more people voting to guys who currently only have a few voters, decreasing the numbers of players excluded. They will also increase the overall number of "single voter" players, since each voter's 16-20 will likely diverge more than their 11-15.
   73. sunnyday2 Posted: May 05, 2005 at 12:08 AM (#1311817)
I have said before that eventually we will elect players who appear on one-third of the ballots. It will happen.

Now 1) is that a problem? Well, it's in the eye of the beholder, I guess. And 2) if it's a problem, does Dan's idea resolve it? Does a 20-man ballot resolve it? I don't know how you can test that without just trying it out.

I do think that as long as we have an elect-me spot bonus, we need to have an on-ballot bonus as well. But I don't claim to know the impact of those, really.

Maybe somebody needs to run some hypothetical ballots, which I remember someone doing way back when--i.e. trying out a whole range of different scoring systems. Remember that? Maybe there's some way to simulate?

PS. If having an idea here is arrogant, then everybody better take their share of the blame. Words like "arrogant" and "repulsive" are stupid and ridiculous and somebody owes DanG an apology. Just my opinion.
   74. jimd Posted: May 05, 2005 at 12:25 AM (#1311907)
Number of players receiving votes, years ending in "0":

1900 32 23 72 35 0.91 0.66
1910 39 27 41 44 0.89 0.61
1920 47 30 50 46 1.02 0.65
1930 54 30 51 51 1.06 0.59
1940 62 37 43 51 1.22 0.73
1950 67 36 36 53 1.26 0.68


1st column: Year
2nd column: Number of candidates on ballots
3rd column: Number of candidates on at least 10% of the ballots
4th column: % of ballots for #15 candidate (ranked by #ballots)
5th column: # of voters
6th column: candidates per voter
7th column: "10% candidates" per voter

Just pointing out that most of this increase is concentrated in "pet" candidates (those below the 10% barrier). The growth in candidates above the 10% barrier is much slower. Extrapolating the first column arrives at about 100 names mentioned on ballots in 2000, though only about 50 will be above the 10% barrier.

The fourth column shows the percentage of ballots for those at the 15 mark (bottom of our 'consensus' ballot). 1900 is very high, obviously because there was a shortage of candidates at that point. 1930 is near the end of the Great Drought, again when there was a candidate shortage. Otherwise, there is no clear pattern as to whether the "top" of the ballot is losing consensus or not.

The sixth and seventh column expands PhillyBooster's stats (with modified #voters). Column 6 shows again that the total number of candidates mentioned is growing, but column 7 shows that the number of "serious" candidates (those mentioned on at least 10% of the ballots) has only grown at the same rate as the size of the electorate and therefore may just be a reflection of an increase in the number of opinions.

I really think this needs to be studied further. I firmly believe, to quote yest,
"IF IT AINT BROKE DON"T FIX IT".
   75. David C. Jones Posted: May 05, 2005 at 01:46 AM (#1312347)
Well, here's what I actually said:

Yeah, count me among those who find this type of argument about "respecting the consensus" completely repulsive and incredibly arrogant.

I don't find "ideas" arrogant; I find the kind of argument Dan was advancing arrogant. And no, there won't be an apology forthcoming.

My feeling is that we just came off one of our most interesting elections, and instead of focusing on the 1951 ballot we are being barraged with information purporting to show that our voting system is flawed and out of control, and that steps must be taken to "correct" the individual idiosyncracies of some voters and to weed out the so-called "pet" candidates. This entire line of reasoning is insulting and stupid.
What Dan is basically proposing is a kind of tyranny of the majority, in which individuals are required to respect the alleged wisdom of the consensus of voters. Of course, we could just allow individuals to exercise their free will, and take the opinion of the consensus into consideration when determining whether their "pet" candidates are truly deserving, but instead Dan is proposing a mechanism that would remove free will from the equation and force voters to comply with the majority.
   76. Chris Cobb Posted: May 05, 2005 at 04:29 AM (#1312895)
David,

It appears to me that you are missing the point of Dan's proposal and overreacting to it with language that is unnecessarily inflammatory and harsh. Dan's reasoning neither "insulting" nor "stupid."

What Dan is basically proposing is a kind of tyranny of the majority, in which individuals are required to respect the alleged wisdom of the consensus of voters.

[attempt at argumentation by gentle ridicule alert!]
If we are going to toss around the "stupid" word here, let us consider its application to this statement of yours. Every year we respect the alleged wisdom of the consensus of voters and remove two players from the pool who are eligible for our rankings and enshrine them in the Hall of Merit. Such tyranny! If the wisdom of the consensus is merely alleged, why do we tolerate this interference with our right to continue putting players onto our ballots??

If you believe that the majority view is sufficiently wise to be a good register of who ought to be honored in the Hall of Merit, how can you maintain that the majority has no wisdom in the matter of identifying candidates who lack the credentials to merit continued consideration?
[/alert]

The line of reasoning that Dan is using to propose limits is the same reasoning that is used to justify the election of candidates in the first place.

Furthermore, if you do not recognize that your "free will" as a voter has already been CONSTRAINED in a variety of ways by the design of the system, you have not thought carefully enough about how the voting system works. It was carefully designed to constrain voters in a variety of important ways in order to work smoothly and to produce results in which the voters can have confidence.

It is not a natural, self-evident system, and its smooth functioning is helped, not hindered, by critical examination of the way it works and by the suggestion of reasoned alternatives.

This is neither the first discussion of its kind that we've had, nor will it be the last. The system that we have is a good system, but we should be open to considering ways that it could be improved. Although I do not agree with this particular proposal of Dan's and have made arguments against it, I have found it valuable in identifying potential problems with the reliability of our voting system, and I appreciate the fact that Dan and others are keeping an eye on the functioning of the process, enabling us to consider whether or not the voting system is continuing to enable the HoM project to reach its goals.

The purpose of the HoM is to honor the best baseball players of all time, not to provide a forum for the exercise of free will. The exercise of reasoned judgment is necessary to the pursuit of the goal of the HoM, and the Constitution wisely places few constraints on voters so to allow their reasoned judgment to operate without unnecessary interference. Some interference is necessary for the project to function at all, however, and as the state of the voting pool and the size of the electorate change with time, it is important to consider whther changes in the constaints on voters would improve the process.

If you don't like the rhetoric Dan has used to couch his arguments, that's understandable. But I urge you to view with a spirit of greater generosity any effort that is made to examine and to improve the selection process.
   77. David C. Jones Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:51 AM (#1312991)
If we are going to toss around the "stupid" word here, let us consider its application to this statement of yours. Every year we respect the alleged wisdom of the consensus of voters and remove two players from the pool who are eligible for our rankings and enshrine them in the Hall of Merit. Such tyranny! If the wisdom of the consensus is merely alleged, why do we tolerate this interference with our right to continue putting players onto our ballots??

If you believe that the majority view is sufficiently wise to be a good register of who ought to be honored in the Hall of Merit, how can you maintain that the majority has no wisdom in the matter of identifying candidates who lack the credentials to merit continued consideration?


This reasoning makes no sense. The entire purpose of this exercise is to elect players to the Hall of Merit. That's why we are here. When two players get elected, they move off the ballot and into the Hall of Merit. The only effect this has on the individual voter is that he is no longer going to vote for the elected player. But since the entire purpose of voting for someone is to see them elected to the HOM, there is no "tyranny" over the individual's ballot. In other words, if I thought Martin Dihigo was in no way deserving of HOM election, I would not vote for him. If he got elected anyway, I would still not vote for him. Nothing changes. If I did think Martin Dihigo was HOM-worthy, then his election would indicate that the desired result had come to pass.

However, if I thought Ned Williamson was HOM-worthy, but nobody else did, by Dan's formula I would be barred from voting for him. In the latter example the electorate prevents me from voting for a candidate of my choosing, which is not the case in the former example. Put more simply, the electorate cannot exercise "tyranny of the majority" over the Hall of Merit, because no one individual owns the Hall of Merit. However, the electorate can exercise "tyranny" over an individual's ballot if it is allowed to dictate to the voter who he cannot vote for. The message would be basically: "You might like this guy, but we don't, so we forbid you from voting for him."

Furthermore, if you do not recognize that your "free will" as a voter has already been CONSTRAINED in a variety of ways by the design of the system, you have not thought carefully enough about how the voting system works. It was carefully designed to constrain voters in a variety of important ways in order to work smoothly and to produce results in which the voters can have confidence.

The only artificial constraint I can see on how I decide to vote for concerns the year in which individual candidates become eligible. The reason that my "free will" is constrained in this respect is entirely sound and logical. But what is Dan proposing? He is specifically proposing that individuals should be prevented from voting for candidates who would otherwise be eligible, simply because those candidates don't meet some arbitrary threshold of support. It was Dan who really brought up the issue of free will, not me. He explicitly made the distinction between "freedom" and "license." Now, license has many different meanings: he could have meant the term like a driver's license, but the specific contrast with the word freedom suggested to me that he was using the definition of license as "lack of due restraint; excessive freedom." Whereas the existing constraints simply ensure that there is some logic as to when candidates become eligible, Dan's proposal is specifically attacking the wisdom of voters who support candidates that are otherwise unpopular. In other words, his proposal challenges the right of the individual to make his own determination as to whether a candidate is worthy of the HOM; wheras the existing rules simply define WHEN a player becomes eligible, not WHETHER he is deserving enough of receiving support.

It is not a natural, self-evident system, and its smooth functioning is helped, not hindered, by critical examination of the way it works and by the suggestion of reasoned alternatives.

I agree, but this particular proposal struck me as uniquely bad, and I wasn't the only one who felt that way. My harsh language stemmed not from the proposal itself, but from the rhetoric deployed to support it; the "embracing of the collective will"; the "respect for the consensus"; the juxtaposition between "freedom" and "license." Again, I was not calling the proposal itself arrogant or repulsive, but rather the argument being advanced in favor of that proposal.

The purpose of the HoM is to honor the best baseball players of all time, not to provide a forum for the exercise of free will.

But there will never be an objective accomplishment of the HOM's goals. The HOM will never be able to say "Mission Accomplished." Just read through the ballot discussion threads. Everybody has a different standard. Some guys like long careers; others like outstanding peaks. Some have even flagrantly ignored the Constitution's statement that players be judged according to the value they brought to their teams. (Just witness those voters who downgraded Dihigo because he wouldn't have pitched and batted in the majors, an intelligent observation in and of itself, but entirely irrelevant to the question of the value Dihigo provided to his teams.) The "best baseball players" will always be a subjective, tentative label. That's just the way it is. The HOM will simply reflect the judgments of a majority, or in some cases, a plurality of the voters, but these judgments are not made collectively, but rather on an individual, case-by-case basis. When you deny the individual the right to exercise his free will when constructing his ballot, you undermine the integrity of the system itself, and therefore, the results of that system.

If you don't like the rhetoric Dan has used to couch his arguments, that's understandable. But I urge you to view with a spirit of greater generosity any effort that is made to examine and to improve the selection process.

I will remain skeptical of attempts to change the voting process simply because somebody doesn't like the wide array of candidates people are voting for. As others have noted, this is something that has dogged the Hall of Fame throughout its history. Changes should only be made if the situation makes it absolutely necessary. FWIW, I don't see that happening. I think the system works fine now, and any attempt to change it will alter the results without "improving" them. I'm willing to hear arguments to the contrary, but none presented so far in this thread has impressed upon me any need for a change to the current system.

I think I've explained my position pretty thoroughly now, and at this point I would rather get back to analyzing the 1951 candidates.
   78. Kelly in SD Posted: May 05, 2005 at 09:29 AM (#1313138)
I understand the thought and concern about electing a player with only a plurality of the votes. I was one of the people who was disturbed with either the Pike or Terry election because of the lack of strong support for the player who was elected.
I am still disturbed by the fact that a player in some elections could be elected by just being 6th or 7th on every ballot while other candidates with stronger, but narrower support are passed over. Sometimes, I have thought the system might make more sense if the ballot bonus for first/second/ and later third was extended 1 or 2 spots down. It seems wrong to me that a player could be elected when no voter actually thinks he is good enough for an elect-me spot.
Some voters will argue that the system is set up to elect those who get the most votes, that a player who appears on all the ballots is deserving or as seen as deserving by the voters. But does it make sense to elect someone who no one thinks of as a Hall of Meriter just because he has lukewarm support from everyone?
This is the problematic possibility I see occurring, and occurring soon.

Maybe the solution is the run-off election concept a previous poster mentioned. IF a player is elected with a total below a pre-set minimum (50%, 45%, 40%, etc.), then there is a run-off the next week among all players within a certain percentage or within a certain number of ballots.

Re: Extra spots for the ballot.
This doesn't matter to me. It doesn't change the situation - we'll just have more candidates listed. Though Welch might pick up a few more votes...I know the ballot is deep right now. I cannot include all my PHOM players on a ballot - there are too many good players. That just means every voter needs to take their time and concentrate.
   79. Carl Goetz Posted: May 05, 2005 at 12:10 PM (#1313177)
The problem is that we're not using an in/out system. Just because someone isn't listed in an 'elect me' slot doesn't mean they don't think he's worthy of induction. It only means there are players he finds to be better. It is entirely possible, even likely, that a player who is 6th or 7th on every ballot is a HoMer in every voter's mind. Its entirely possible that a player 16th and off the ballot is a HoMer in that voter's mind.
We are voting players in, not deciding who should be out. If we were deciding who should be out, we would be ranking the bottom 15 that are eligible.
   80. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 05, 2005 at 03:09 PM (#1313421)
I am still disturbed by the fact that a player in some elections could be elected by just being 6th or 7th on every ballot... does it make sense to elect someone who no one thinks of as a Hall of Meriter just because he has lukewarm support from everyone?

That's not much of a concern for me. Do you really think the 6th best player on your ballot is non-HOM-worthy? Personally, I think all 15 guys on my ballot are deserving HOMers, and I suspect many feel the same way about theirs.

So the way I would put it is, if somebody is elected by virtue of being 6th or 7th on every ballot, he will have been elected because everybody thinks he's a HOMer, not because nobody does.
   81. Carl G Posted: May 05, 2005 at 03:26 PM (#1313467)
'So the way I would put it is, if somebody is elected by virtue of being 6th or 7th on every ballot, he will have been elected because everybody thinks he's a HOMer, not because nobody does.'

Agreed. I'd rather see this player get in than someone with 1st place support on 40% of the ballots.
   82. Chris Cobb Posted: May 05, 2005 at 03:32 PM (#1313481)
I think that there is significant potential for error in both scenarios.

It would be useful to review the elections to see how often and under what conditions the player with the most or second most elect-me votes was not elected or the player appearing on the most or second-most ballots was not elected (assuming two electees in the year).
   83. The definitely immoral Eric Enders Posted: May 05, 2005 at 03:34 PM (#1313491)
I guess I should have read #79 before repeating its entire contents in #80....
   84. DanG Posted: May 05, 2005 at 03:41 PM (#1313515)
Moving to another, more important, aspect of the proposal:

1) It’s a perfect way to highlight and revive the old time candidates.

Howie gave us his solution, which seems to be the approach that most voters take on this issue:

I have in the past voiced my own quibbles about hopeless causes. I tend to have a high consensus because I get bored with certain players.
If that seems odd, well, my feeling is that many of the 'hopeless causes' deserved votes earlier in the process, but can't realistically keep up with the current crop.
After all, the top contemporaries of the earlier guys all got elected already. I've been a leading proponent of Mickey Welch, but he slides slowly down my ballot as more and more stud players come along. I think that's a more realistic evaluation of these players.


IOW, forget it, just timeline them gradually off the ballot. Are today's studs placed above yesterday's studs just because they're more "today"?

What is the point of perpetual consideration if, in fact, voters are not considering players perpetually? "Oh, they're still in my queue." Nice to say, but if they never get your vote, so what? Their time for serious consideration has passed.

OCF had this suggestion:

leave it to our powers of persuasion over each other. Meet the intent of of Dan's proposal socially, with an appeal to all of us not to be too stubborn.

(OK, he was commenting on a different issue and I took that out of context.) On the issue at hand this isn't working; we've seen many once-strong candidates slip-slide away over time, despite the best efforts of the champions for their cases.

So, are we all just to take care of our own "pets", keeping them on life support while praying for a cure? Or should we decide they just can't "keep up with the current crop" and pull the plug?

The lack of focus on this issue tells me it's not really that important. Is it one of our foundation principles or not?

Are there any other ways we can invigorate long-time candidates? Or am I simply off-base and everything will take care of itself in time, that Griffith-Jennings-Van Haltren-Beckley will make their moves during "candidate gap" periods, or they'll be rescued towards the end when we're electing tons of players?

BTW, I hope none of this comes off as "arrogant". I prefer the term "iconoclastic".
   85. Carl G Posted: May 05, 2005 at 03:56 PM (#1313555)
I have feeling when we reach modern day and we're electing 3 or 4 every year, we're going to want to have these guys around for analysis. My gut tells me that, once we pass 2003(when we actually started), we're going to be electing more per year than the HoF. That'll be a big backlog time.
   86. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 05, 2005 at 04:06 PM (#1313574)
BTW, I hope none of this comes off as "arrogant". I prefer the term "iconoclastic".

I have never thought any of your proposals were arrogant, Dan. I just personally don't like the idea of restricting my choices, that's all. If a peak voter wants to place Jim Creighton on his ballot, I say more power to him.

The idea of placing the fifteen candidates each one of us feels were the best each "year" was a powerful reason why I joined our group.

One thing I should add: I don't have a problem with a run-off system for players that reach a plurality, but not a majority, of votes. For the few times that this might happen, I would support it. Everyone still gets the chance to rank their fifteen best, but Dan gets the majority that he wants in the run-off. Works for me.
   87. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 05, 2005 at 04:29 PM (#1313627)
I am still disturbed by the fact that a player in some elections could be elected by just being 6th or 7th on every ballot...

I just can't for the life of me see this happening. It's like the old argument, if a presidential candidate won the most populated X-number of states by one vote each and won no votes in any other, he'd be elected president. Mathmatically it stands, but I can't forsee it ever happening.

More likely you'll get a guy with a slew of #1 & #2 votes that's left off the ballot who gets elected. That's what happened to Charlie Bennett, and - even though I didn't have Bennett on my ballot - I thought it was fine. It'll probably happen to Hughie Jennings at some point to.
   88. DavidFoss Posted: May 05, 2005 at 04:39 PM (#1313656)
Re:I am still disturbed by the fact that a player in some elections could be elected by just being 6th or 7th on every ballot...

I just can't for the life of me see this happening.

Isn't this how Red Faber (and to a lesser extent Bill Terry) got elected? The result was not unreasonable at the time, but some teeth-gnashing still did occur.
   89. OCF Posted: May 05, 2005 at 04:40 PM (#1313659)
"Just 6th or 7th on every ballot" is hyperbole, but being elected with lots of mid-ballot and low-ballot support and not very much top-ballot support has already happened (Bill Terry) and has nearly happened in some other cases (Joe Sewell). I don't have a problem with that.
   90. David C. Jones Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:06 PM (#1313725)
Just one more quick comment:

I consider every player on my ballot HOM-worthy; in fact, I also consider several players just off my ballot HOM worthy.
   91. Michael Bass Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:06 PM (#1313726)
The more I think about it, the more I think we're trying to solve a non-existant problem.

Is it really a shock that we're not going to have much consensus on players the 200-231st best players? Is that "problem" actually eliminated by artificially limiting choices? Is that actually going to make Jake Beckley or Hughie Jennings (to take two polar opposites) a more popular choice when/if they get in?

And the whole "help people find the consensus" thing is a real turn off, to be honest.

I'm not even for expanding the ballot at this point. Count me, maybe for the first time ever, in yest's camp.

IF IT AINT BROKE DON"T FIX IT
   92. DanG Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:32 PM (#1313842)
Dr. Kevorkian, thank God you've come! How did you get out of prison?

One of the guards is a baseball fan. When he heard about your situation he gave me leave.

Yes, of course. Please, there's no time to lose, Mr. Ryan is in excruciating pain.

I see that. Does he have any idea what we're planning?

I very much doubt it. We've cut back his support drastically over the past few months, hoping he would "go" naturally, but somehow he hangs on, despite his condition.

Yes, I've seen this before.
...McCormick...Griffin...Tiernan...they were much the same.


Can you help him?

Yes, I think I can. Do you know what's in this hypodermic syringe?

Wait...No...

Yes, the deadly TIMELINE, very effective in "treating" one so old.

I prayed it would never come to this!

We both know it's done for the good. You and the rest will be free now.

Free?

To get on with your life! To stop throwing it away on someone who has no hope.

Yes, you're right.

The time has come.... There, now he is happier...we're all happier.

Thank you, doctor. Will you go back to prison now?

Not just yet. There's a certain Mr. Duffy who seems to be in need of my "treatment".

Wait...No! But he's not...
   93. Daryn Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:37 PM (#1313864)
Imagine an election in 1965 where 60 people vote. The inductee appears on 20 ballots, the runner-up also appears on 20 ballots. Maybe only 10-15 have put both on the ballot. Maybe as many as 25-30 ended up voting for neither.

In the above scenario, I don't think it is a very good idea to break the "tie" by looking at voters' 16-20 spots. I oppose run-off elections, but they would be a better way of determining who the electorate preferred, as would making the tie-breaker an analysis of how the contenders fared in the elect-me spots.

The system isn't broken. It produces results that reflect the view of the electorate. It may not be perfect, but either are the suggested alterations. Let's get back to enjoying the process.
   94. andrew siegel Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:53 PM (#1313938)
Two quick points that haven't been made that clearly by others:

(1) There are guys who are not receiving any votes who are sitting 40th or 50th or 60th on my ballot who I have not conclusively voted "no" on. I wouldn't be surprised--scratch that, I expect--that one or two of those guys will get a new advocate or some further statistical ammunition and will become a strong candidate for enshrinement 40 or 50 years from now. Do I have any idea if that candidate will be Mike Tiernan or Tony Mullane or Mike Griffin or Fielder Jones or (N)ed Williamson or Addie Joss or Bobby Veach or Dave Bancroft or Pie Traynor or Spotswood Poles or . . .? Absolutely not. But I am fairly certain there will be a couple of those guys. Why close off (or more accurately limit) our options?

(2) If we want to make sure we all take a new look at old candidates, why not a rule that, for anyone who has a total of 100 career points, voters have to comment on them every 25th ballot (their 25th year of eligbility, their 50th, their 75th, etc.). That should be easy to keep track of and would require only that John list a name or two or three at the top of the discussion and ballot threads each week.
   95. DanG Posted: May 05, 2005 at 05:58 PM (#1313962)
I should be thicker-skinned, but when the proposal is repeatedly miscast I get irritated.

Five posts (so far) have used the word "broke" (or broken) in their interpretation of the proposal. I fully agree, Daryn, the system isn't broken. Which is why I never said it was.

It follows from this that we don't need a "fix". I never used that word in the sense of repairing or correcting anything, only once in the sense that it changes something.

What this proposal is, is an upgrade. It has no overt effect on the process, but it addresses certain background issues which have made themselves known. It makes for a better result at no real cost.

Saying this, I don't expect to change anyone's mind. I am simply requesting others for a more thoughtful discourse. Which reminds me, thank you for post #60, Chris.
   96. jimd Posted: May 05, 2005 at 06:04 PM (#1313993)
I think some of the benefits of this proposal can be gained by other means than coercion.

Too many "pet" candidates? Suggest, constitutionally, that support for a candidate is no longer obligatory once a player fails to appear on, say, 10% of the ballots cast two years running. (OKs what many voters do anyway, unconstitutionally.)

Revive interest in bygone candidates? Mention in the ballot thread header that so-and-so hasn't had a vote in 20 years, (or has had no more than one or two supporters for 20 years) and invite people to plead the candidate's case (if any) in his thread.
   97. Jeff M Posted: May 05, 2005 at 06:06 PM (#1314005)
I am very strongly against imposing term limits at this point. I just think perpetual eligibility was one of the cornerstones of the project.

Totally agree with Andrew on this. I also agree with yest's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" concept.

As for expanding the ballot, I think there needs to be substantial justification to overcome my concern about further clutter. I can hardly read the ballots that are posted now.

If we go to 20, I would propose also limiting the ballot to those 20 and any required disclosures about Top 10 candidates not on the ballot, plus maybe newbie candidates that don't make the list. In other words, if we do this, let's stop having ballots with 40 players on it (with the same old comments), since that seems to be preserving a record for the voter's benefit, but doesn't add anything for those reading (or tabulating) the ballot. I've made the argument before, and no one (except maybe PhillyBooster) ever likes it, but I just can't stop myself. :)

My only problem with the run-off ballot is again administrative. Keeping track of having to vote a run-off ballot in an off-week wouldn't be so bad unless we find there are lots of run-off ballots. Then it can get confusing (voting every week). Also, there may be some voter dropout between the real ballot and the run-off, which could skew results.
   98. Daryn Posted: May 05, 2005 at 06:49 PM (#1314259)
Dan, I know I am, and I think others are, using the term "broke" idiomatically rather than literally. I appreciate your ideas to improve the process. I just don't agree that those ideas will improve the process and philosophically, I think ideas to improve a process are more useful when the process is failing. When we all agree the system is working, it would seem to me we would only change it if we were relatively certain that the change would improve the system in a meaningful way.
   99. DanG Posted: May 05, 2005 at 07:18 PM (#1314491)
Suggest, constitutionally, that support for a candidate is no longer obligatory once a player fails to appear on, say, 10% of the ballots cast two years running.
...
Mention in the ballot thread header that so-and-so hasn't had a vote in 20 years, (or has had no more than one or two supporters for 20 years) and invite people to plead the candidate's case
...
let's stop having ballots with 40 players on it.

I think these are all good suggestions that should be added to the constitution.

My only problem with the run-off ballot is again administrative

Exactly, I agree with this, too.

I think ideas to improve a process are more useful when the process is failing.

Well, IMNSHO, the amount of thought that went into our structure made it failproof. Not to say it couldn't use a tweak now and then.
   100. jimd Posted: May 05, 2005 at 07:32 PM (#1314589)
ballot thread header

Oops. Should have said: "ballot discussion thread header". I think we knew what I meant?
Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Harveys Wallbangers
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 1.3326 seconds
49 querie(s) executed