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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?
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