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Thursday, December 05, 2013

George Castle: Broadcasters Would Bring Knowledgeability to Flawed Hall of Fame Voting

I guess John Sterling’s voice doesn’t carry past the moat and into the Castle…

Full disclosure: I’m not a BBWAA member despite covering baseball for more than three decades based in Chicago, and two decades for a sizeable daily newspaper. Even in Cliff Notes form, the politics of why I’m not a member is too thick and involved to discuss here. That’s best left as a book chapter or three. Suffice it to say, I’d still believe the following thought process if I was on the inside looking out.

The Hall voting is too exclusive, too hide-bound with tradition. The elections should have been opened up long ago – as in decades ago – to veteran play by play broadcasters, senior baseball officials and even a couple of vetted fans in each major-league market. Just because the writers were the only organized media group when voting began in 1936 doesn’t mean the process must go unchanged after nearly 80 years.

There are problems with the BBWAA having a stranglehold on the vote now. The gold-card issue can backfire on the legitimacy of the vote, as some possessors of the lifetime card have not covered baseball in years, if not decades. How can you knowledgeably vote on candidates if you’ve been switched off the baseball beat during their playing careers?

...Cincinnati Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman has thought about this issue for what he figures is 25 years. The sometimes-outspoken Brennaman is No. 3 in continuous seniority with his team, after the Dodgers’ Vin Scully and the Royals’ Denny Matthews. His first game was Opening Day 1974, when Brennaman called Henry Aaron’s record-tying 714th homer off Jack Billingham.

“I say it all the time and I say it rather disparagingly, aimed at the baseball writers. “It might be the most closed fraternity in our business. Up and down the line, we see more baseball than they do over the course of any baseball season. While I take time off during the season, I still see upward of 140 games during the course of a season. I feel I’m qualified or more so than most of the members of the BBWAA who are charged with the responsibility of voting.”

Brennaman is just as candid in advocating that those who cease covering the game or don’t attend games lose their voting rights.

“There should be legislation in place that should prohibit that type of thing from happening,” he said. “But nobody does anything about it, year after year after year. All the rules remain in place, as antiquated as they may be. They continue with the approach and manner.”

Repoz Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:00 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. Tripon Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4611606)
The problem with broadcasters if that you're an employee of the team, and so there's the potential of an owner exerting influence on your vote.

I wouldn't mind independent broadcasters who work for TBS, or ESPN to have a vote though.
   2. Lassus Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4611607)
Holy crap.
   3. Bob Tufts Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:32 PM (#4611611)
But you can't hold the whole BBWAA membership responsible for the voting behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the entire Hall of Fame voting system? And if the whole voting system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of the Hall of Fame in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of baseball and our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

Sorry, Animal House is on AMC!
   4. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4611612)
   5. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4611613)
Was it over when Germany Schaefer bombed Pearl Harbor?
   6. silhouetted by the sea Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4611614)
Half right headline. Flawed Hall of Fame voting-yes. Broadcasters would bring knowledgeability-I don't think so.
   7. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:55 PM (#4611619)
Whenever I think "knowledgeability," I think "Rex Hudler," and I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard.
   8. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 05, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4611626)
A Brennaman with a HOF vote.

Sorta defines "monkey with a pistol".
   9. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 05, 2013 at 11:18 PM (#4611627)
Brandon phillips approves
   10. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 05, 2013 at 11:24 PM (#4611632)
Brandon phillips approves
I doubt Brenneman would vote for any Red who wasn't in the majors before his first Reds broadcast.
   11. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 05, 2013 at 11:26 PM (#4611634)
Pretty much any process would benefit from getting Chip Carey involved.

I'd be more in favor of votes to living HOF members before I would broadcasters. Yeah, Joe Morgan, but so what. Those guys earned it.
   12. donlock Posted: December 06, 2013 at 12:22 AM (#4611663)
"knowledgeability", "too hide-bound with tradition". What is the right amount of hide-boundedness? With, or without tradition?

This guy writes like a broadcaster.
   13. Rob_Wood Posted: December 06, 2013 at 01:19 AM (#4611675)
If we use the number of games watched during the season, I am sure that many primates (including yours truly) are far more qualified than any sportswriter or broadcaster. Right?
   14. John Northey Posted: December 06, 2013 at 01:29 AM (#4611679)
Well, the living HOF members did get to vote on the guys the writers passed up and wouldn't put anyone, not Santo or Miller or anyone, in. So I can see why you shouldn't give them the vote.

I'd put a 20 year rule in - if you haven't covered MLB in 20 years you lose the vote as you were not actively covering the players who are now on the ballot. That should be a simple reform to start with. Also expand the qualifying period to 15 or 20 years so you had to be active while the guys on the ballot were playing.

Next is adding in a few dozen highly (over) qualified voters. I'd say anyone who was a ML GM during the past 20 years (their job was to know who was the best), top writers who aren't with newspapers from the past 20 years, and top analysts from the same period. Those should be reasonable and easy to add in one would hope, especially the ex-GM's. Tempted to add ML managers to it as well. Coaches not so much as they are the ones who voted a DH a gold glove.
   15. OsunaSakata Posted: December 06, 2013 at 06:05 AM (#4611709)
Expanding the voting block is usually a good thing. Bill James suggested five different groups voting: broadcasters and writers, fans, players, front office people and scholars. Front office people would also include services providers like STATS and Elias.

But the only kind of breaking point will be if there are no living inductees for enough years. The town of Cooperstown will complain and they'll probably induct the highest vote total even if he doesn't have 75%.
   16. Chris Fluit Posted: December 06, 2013 at 10:19 AM (#4611749)
Do not include a fan vote. Fans are ridiculously harsh in voting. ESPN just ran a fan poll of the current ballot and no one got enough votes to go in. Not Biggio. Not Glavine. Not the Big Hurt. Not even Greg frickin' Maddux. Please, oh, please, do not include a fan vote.
   17. LargeBill Posted: December 06, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4611761)
Whatever basis there is for writers to weigh in on this honor applies equally to broadcasters who have called games daily for a minimum of ten years. I'm for expanding the pool of voters mainly because the larger a voting group the less impact of one really stupid voter. We'd still get some idiotic ballots to mock, but I doubt the broadcasters would be markedly worse.
   18. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 06, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4611839)
Do not include a fan vote. Fans are ridiculously harsh in voting. ESPN just ran a fan poll of the current ballot and no one got enough votes to go in. Not Biggio. Not Glavine. Not the Big Hurt. Not even Greg frickin' Maddux. Please, oh, please, do not include a fan vote.
How soon people forget the All-Century team.

Ken Griffey, Jr, Pete Rose, and Joe DiMaggio made it in the OF; Barry Bonds, Ricky Henderson, Tris Speaker, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, Carl Yastrzemski, Roberto Clemente, and Frank Robinson didn't.

Mark McGwire made it at 1B; Jimmy Foxx didn't.

Brooks Robinson made it at 3B; Eddie Matthews, Wade Boggs, and George Brett didn't.

Ernie Banks made it at SS; Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammell, and Barry Larkin didn't - even in '99, ARod and Jeter may have been better picks.

Nolan Ryan (top vote getter for pitcher!) and Sandy Koufax made it; Greg Maddux, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Pete Alexander, and about 30 other more deserving pitchers didn't.

And while I know why Jackie Robinson was voted in (and agree with it), it meant that there was no room for Joe Morgan.

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