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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Should the BBWAA vote for the Hall of Fame?

Pro and con, in one thread so we don’t spread out the discussion.

The main link is to an article by Ed Sherman that lays out the argument against writers voting for the HoF:

Once again, my argument falls under a basic rule of the business: Journalists don’t make news; they report the news.

The writers will be making the news Wednesday. It will be their votes that will be dissected and critiqued. They will be writing stories in which they had a direct impact on the outcome. In many cases, they will be quoted in other stories asking to explain their votes.

An editor wouldn’t allow a court reporter to be on a jury and then write about the case, right? Isn’t this the same scenario?

On the other side of the argument is C. Trent Rosecrans:

The arguments I’d put up for the BBWAA — and again, trust me, the process is far from perfect and could be changed — aren’t iron-clad, but they are arguments.

For one, we do have an organizing body with rules and regulations. That doesn’t seem like a big deal to many, but to me, it may be the main reason the BBWAA still gets the nod. While there are others — former players, executives and broadcasters, among them — that are qualified, there isn’t the active organization for those. That sounds lame to those who haven’t tried to organize a vote, for those who have, I’d hope that makes sense.

Secondly, we’re a group that believes in transparency. The BBWAA recently began releasing the individual votes for its award-winners (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year), and every meeting I go to (the BBWAA has meetings at the All-Star Game, the World Series and the Winter Meetings), releasing individual votes is brought up. Apparently, this is the Hall of Fame that controls this, we can ask, but they do not want to do it. However, individual voters are not discouraged from releasing their votes. I know the voters at the Enquirer — John Fay, John Erardi and Paul Dougherty — all release their votes. This isn’t to pump their chest and brag that they have a vote, but it’s to be as transparent as possible.

Finally, while the BBWAA’s selections aren’t always right (in either the Hall of Fame or the yearly awards), I will put the record up against the results of players (player’s choice awards, veterans’ committee), coaches and managers (Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers) and fans (All-Star starters).

If there’s a better way, I’m all for it. I’d personally be disappointed if I never got to vote, but from what I’m told, no matter the complaining that’s done this time of the year, the BBWAA will continue to vote on the Hall of Fame in the near future. I keep hearing that the voting system is “broken” or “corrupt” — and I wouldn’t go that far, I’d say it’s “far from perfect” — but I’ve yet to see a concrete, working model of a way that would be better.

Mike Emeigh Posted: January 08, 2014 at 12:15 PM | 69 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bbwaa, hall of fame

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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 08, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4633263)
I’ve yet to see a concrete, working model of a way that would be better.


I think the biggest change that absolutely should be implemented is to get rid of non-working members and accelerate the timeline for working members. It seems silly that a Neyer or a Kahrl can't vote yet but some guy who last wrote an active column 20 years ago has a vote.
   2. AROM Posted: January 08, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4633268)
The BBWAA has expanded the vote beyond print writers, letting in the internet guys. That's good as it reflects the reality that the world of today is different. I'd like to see them add announcers, people who obviously spend a lot of time watching the games. Come on, give Vin Scully a vote. Call it Baseball Media instead of baseball writers. Add writers beyond newspaper guys. Like Bill James. Since anyone can e-publish a book just set some limitations, so you'd have to reach a certain number of sales to be relevant.

Then there's the problem of policing trolls. Like the guy who leaves off Maddux just because it puts him in the news. I'd like to see some mechanism for policing this, but the exact mechanism is tough.

While I'd vote for Bonds/Clemens, I don't think writers taking an anti steroid position are trolls, especially the ones who fill out 10 names on their ballots. I can disagree with their voting but still be happy to have them in the process. On the flip side I would hate to see voters who care not about steroids being disciplined for their votes. But using the HOF vote as a publicity stunt is disrespectful to the process, and those who do not respect the process should not be allowed to continue as part of it.
   3. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4633286)
I think the biggest change that absolutely should be implemented is to get rid of non-working members and accelerate the timeline for working members. It seems silly that a Neyer or a Kahrl can't vote yet but some guy who last wrote an active column 20 years ago has a vote.

I think this is the best and easiest change to implement.

I was always thinking about more radical changes you could make, too. One of the hare-brained schemes I came up with was that the BBWAA has to elect one player every year and, in addition, there would be a committee formed by the HOF to elect an additional player every other year so that, no matter what, you would have 3 players elected every two years. I think that would keep a backlog from forming, allow BBWAA blind spots to be corrected sooner than 20 years, and keep a steady flow of new "heroes" coming into the Hall but not at such a fast pace that you end up with a lot of questionable inductees. It's not perfect--some years obvious HOFers won't get in and maybe some years someone just under the borderline will make it--but I don't think anything too egregious would happen.
   4. fra paolo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4633297)
Rosecrans makes a good point about how the BBWAA's selections look good compared with other forms of selection. We seem to be fairly well in agreement around here that players may not be the best judges.

Really, people are calling for permanent reforms to fix a temporary problem, a state of mind which always leads to something worse. We already see in the Repoz Gizmo the apparent effects of what happens if people simply use more spaces on their ballot, something that appers to have been accomplished by lobbying on the part of the HoF, MLB and even, dare I suggest it, fans on the internet.

Are we entering an era of HoF voting glasnost and perestroika? The end is in sight, if 2014's voting pattern continues into future elections.
   5. Yardape Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4633300)
Rosencrans touches on the best defence of the BBWAA: nobody else has been able to do it better. The various guises of the Veteran's Committee have been poor; the hockey hall of fame is terrible; the football HoF seems to have significant issues; who even knows what the basketball HoF is up to. The BBWAA is not perfect, but given the other approaches, I'd be wary about changing it.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4633304)
I'm not a fan of the bbwaa body, but I do think they should be involved in the process of putting players in the hof. They are the living historians of the candidates, these are the guys who were there when these guys played. This is why I do not support accelerating the time frame. The 10 year requirement makes it more than likely that the voter was active when the players played and that they can vote from a position of experience covering the players while they were around.

I think they need to be a little more free with their membership options, Neyer losing his bbwaa card because he went to another company shouldn't have mattered. In today's world, I think if a guy puts out a certain number of words/articles on the subject on an annual basis, they should be serious candidates for inclusion.


I fully support the bbwaa requiring members to 1. disclose ballots 2. write an article on their vote/thought process, if the person no longer has a medium for that, host it on mlb.com or bbwaa.com.

   7. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4633306)
The BBWAA has expanded the vote beyond print writers, letting in the internet guys. That's good as it reflects the reality that the world of today is different. I'd like to see them add announcers, people who obviously spend a lot of time watching the games. Come on, give Vin Scully a vote. Call it Baseball Media instead of baseball writers. Add writers beyond newspaper guys. Like Bill James. Since anyone can e-publish a book just set some limitations, so you'd have to reach a certain number of sales to be relevant.


It would be wonderful to have Vin Scully voting. The problem is, he comes with several Hawk Harrelsons attached to him. I think it's perfectly reasonable to keep employees of major league teams from voting for the Hall.
   8. Mark Armour Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4633308)
I disagree on the timelines. The idea is that since you are voting on people who played from 5 to 30 years ago, the voters should be people who covered baseball in that period. Unless, of course, you think that following and writing about baseball at the time is unimportant. Similarly, if a writer covered baseball during this period, it seems unimportant whether they cover baseball professionally today. Do you think a 30-year-old with access to the internet is more qualified than someone who wrote baseball from 1975-2005 and then retired?
   9. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4633311)
Then there's the problem of policing trolls. Like the guy who leaves off Maddux just because it puts him in the news. I'd like to see some mechanism for policing this, but the exact mechanism is tough.

It's already there -- he's one vote of several hundred. He has less say than would a Stalinist in the US House.
   10. Squash Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4633314)
I'd say yes, the BBWAA should be voting for the Hall of Fame. They're around the game, they have access to the game, it's a large enough body that the vagaries of any small subset of opinion can't drive the group to foolish decisions such as the Veteran's Committee. The "problem" is who they let into the club, who they don't let into the club, that there is no vetting within the club, lifetime membership, and so on. Those are fixable problems, if they can ever be convinced to fix them. Maybe when the next generation of writers are running the show.

Even for all that the BBWAA doesn't do a terrible job. They miss players, but most of the misses are guys who it is much easier to tell after the fact with modern stats were HOF-worthy players (I'm leaving steroids out of this statement because that's a nonsystemic issue). This will likely never happen, but if every five years or so the writers/Hall were to reopen the ballot for nominations of past players who were kicked off to make up for the changing nature of statistics and our understanding of the game, I would fully support that. I don't think a ton of those guys are going to get elected regardless (e.g. if Trammell isn't making it, Grich and Whitaker aren't making it), but if you're Trammell being on the ballot itself and part of the discussion and having a group of writers talk about how great you were and should be voted for is some reward at least - not the best reward, but something. Those other guys deserve to be part of the conversation and at least read some good pub about themselves too.
   11. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4633323)
Once again, my argument falls under a basic rule of the business: Journalists don’t make news; they report the news.
This argument is a non sequitur. It presumes that sportswriters are journalists.
   12. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4633336)
Then there's the problem of policing trolls. Like the guy who leaves off Maddux just because it puts him in the news. I'd like to see some mechanism for policing this, but the exact mechanism is tough.


I've been throwing out the idea of preventing writers from revealing their votes until 1 week after the announcement, coupled with the BBWAA (or HoF, I guess) posting all ballots on its Web site. (Interestingly enough, Rosecrans indicates that it's the HoF, not the BBWAA, that is resisting the reveal of all ballots.)

I don't think Gurnick left Maddux off because it put him in the news. I accept Gurnick's explanation of his decision at face value; I do think he's wrong in both his basic stance and his idea of when the PED era started, but I think that if you have already made the decision to "punish" PED usage in the game, then the most honest step to take - when you also admit that you don't know who used and who didn't - is to penalize everyone, rather than trying to guess who used and who didn't.

And to address an objection raised when I threw out the same point on Twitter - yes, I understand that a player who didn't use resents (and should resent) being lumped in with all of the players who did, but I think it will be far more damaging to the HoF and to the process for player A to be rejected by the voting community because he was identified as a user (especially if the identification turns out to be false), while player B skates through the process and receives the HoF honor only to be outed as a user later (which I will bet happens within the next 5-10 years). I'd rather deal with the fallout from the first situation than from the second, so while I disagree with almost everything Gurnick has said, I think I'd rather deal with his justification than with the justification presented by someone like Jon Heyman or Bill Madden.

FWIW, Bill Deane has stated that there are probably 5-6 players who used and who are already in the HoF. I have little doubt he's correct.

-- MWE
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4633341)

"Come on, give Vin Scully a vote."

aside from the Hawk Harrelson note, it's worth noting that most broadcasters are paid by their teams, while newspaper reporters are not. that hardly is a trivial distinction.

does it end the argument? no. but there's a much wider gap between broadcasters and reporters than many people seem to realize.


...........

"This argument is a non sequitur. It presumes that sportswriters are journalists."

haha, right up there with lawyer jokes. anyone heard a good one lately?
   14. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4633342)
The BBWAA has expanded the vote beyond print writers, letting in the internet guys.


Yeah, but only guys who cover a team from day-to-day. That's why they didn't let Gleeman and Calcaterra in, though they know more about baseball overall than some of the beat writers who *are* in do.
   15. kcboomer Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4633359)
We really need to scrap this BBWAA thing. To kid ourselves that this is the best group to identify HoFers is simply nonsensical. The HoF itself needs to get off their million$ and develop objective standards for the voters. Their attitude of "we don't elect them, we induct them" is so weak kneed. Develop a test and let anyone apply to take the test. If you pass you are a voter. If you fail it then you don't get to vote no matter how many games you have seen. Want to limit the people who can take the test to those involved in the game (writers, broadcasters, serious bloggers, internet writers, SABR members, etc.) fine.

And let's not pat the BBWAA too much on the back for all the correct elections they have achieved. When you have first shot at the candidates any group of casual fans can pick the great players. It is getting the second and third tier HoFers right that is difficult.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4633379)
Yeah, but only guys who cover a team from day-to-day. That's why they didn't let Gleeman and Calcaterra in, though they know more about baseball overall than some of the beat writers who *are* in do.


That's not true. Law, Neyer (initially), Kahrl, Carroll weren't covering teams day-by-day. They were let in because they were covering teams with web sites the BBWAA deemed established. That's why Neyer subsequently lost his card.

   17. villageidiom Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4633403)
Rather than have multiple threads on the same basic topic, I'll put this here:

Abraham: A Few Ways To Improve HoF Voting

Many ideas floated here - including Vin Scully! - show up there. Also:
Offer some help: The ballot arrives with a sheaf of statistics for each player. The stats are pretty basic and — frankly — not much help.

Why not have a committee of respected analysts compile a packet of information? That could include advanced statistics, comparisons to other Hall of Famers and where the player stands on career charts. No opinion, just facts.

We have smart people like Bill James, Jay Jaffe, Dave Cameron, and Sean Forman available as resources, along with many others. Why not use them?
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4633410)
The BBWAAA actually did a good job overall until they effed everything up with the steroids mess.
   19. Ron J2 Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4633416)
#16 Then please explain to me why Terry Mosher and those guys at Golf Digest have retained their membership.
   20. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4633419)
IMO, the best way to deal with the trolls, the non-working members, and the problems with the BBWAA generally is to greatly expand the voting pool. Keep the writers, but give players, managers, GMs, and coaches a vote after they've been involved in MLB for a few years. Give bloggers and SABR members a vote. Maybe there's even some way to give the fans a bloc of votes (But not agents and owners -- their financial interests are too closely tied to the results of the vote.)
   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4633420)
#16 Then please explain to me why Terry Mosher and those guys at Golf Digest have retained their membership.


Once you put in 10 years, you get honorary status forever. Neyer didn't have 10 years.

It also seems like there's a disparity between how the individual chapters and how the national chapter manage these things. The national is quite strict on monitoring the process, requiring recipients meet the guidelines - hence Neyer's loss of status. I don't think the same attention to detail goes on when the membership is issued through a local chapter (e.g., the political cartoonist guy).

   22. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4633421)
#16 Then please explain to me why Terry Mosher and those guys at Golf Digest have retained their membership.


Because once you hit ten consecutive years as a bbwaa member, you gain lifetime voting privileges for the hof.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4633427)
IMO, the best way to deal with the trolls, the non-working members, and the problems with the BBWAA generally is to greatly expand the voting pool. Keep the writers, but give players, managers, GMs, and coaches a vote after they've been involved in MLB for a few years. Give bloggers and SABR members a vote. Maybe there's even some way to give the fans a bloc of votes (But not agents and owners -- their financial interests are too closely tied to the results of the vote.)


You were doing so well until the end. Fan vote is a horrible idea. I think that if you cover baseball in a semi-professional capacity, you should be eligible for membership.

As pointed out, giving a vote to a broadcaster has the issue of employment with the team that is really tough to overcome.
   24. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4633431)
You're probably right, but you could give the fans a small (say 10%) stake in the vote. It would certainly increase fan interest in the HOF, and it wouldn't have a huge impact.
   25. Fanshawe Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4633432)
Unless, of course, you think that following and writing about baseball at the time is unimportant...Do you think a 30-year-old with access to the internet is more qualified than someone who wrote baseball from 1975-2005 and then retired?


I think that the importance of "following and writing about baseball" completely swamps the importance of "at the time" in virtually all cases. For the purposes of Hall of Fame voting, I see no reason why either of those is more or less qualified than the other (again, assuming you mean a 30-year-old actively writing about baseball for a living, not just some guy). I'm pretty skeptical that, say, an 80s beat writer for the Pirates has any special insight about whether Jack Morris belongs in the HOF that is not shared by a Pirates beat writer who worked from 2000-2010.
   26. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4633434)
Why not have a committee of respected analysts compile a packet of information? That could include advanced statistics, comparisons to other Hall of Famers and where the player stands on career charts. No opinion, just facts.

We have smart people like Bill James, Jay Jaffe, Dave Cameron, and Sean Forman available as resources, along with many others. Why not use them?


This is Abraham at his best. On the surface it is a good idea but is it really that necessary? If you are taking your Hall of Fame vote seriously it should not be unreasonable to expect you to briefly type "www.baseball-reference.com" or "www.fangraphs.com" into your browser. Hell, you can ignore the "www." part of it and be fine. If you need insight from Jay Jaffe or Bill James you are a writer for a major metropolitan newspaper, I'm betting they'll take your call.

The information is out there. How ####### lazy do you have to be to require it served to you on a silver platter?

   27. zonk Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4633438)
Rosencrans touches on the best defence of the BBWAA: nobody else has been able to do it better.


Right - as much as we all beef about the BBWAA, let's face it... The HoF is never going to be voted on by a collection of Guys Bill James Has Over For Dinner and Cocktails.

Honestly, the only thing that I think the BBWAA needs to do is find some way to trim the hedges a bit... the 10 years and automatic for life is what needs to go -- you want to have some sort emeritus status so that when a guy like, say, Ken Davidoff retires he continues to get a ballot? Fine by me... It's the guys who move on to their 'first loves' -- like friggin' golf -- after toiling as beat writers that need to go. I likewise think they need some sort of formulate or method to get marked morons off the rolls. I'm not looking to normalize groupthink or anything.... But let's say - just for example - you turn in a ballot with ONLY Jack Morris while the average ballot has 7 names on it, with 3 of them being on 90%. Well, you ought to be on notice.

If you're consistently NOT voting for guys tallying 90%, then sorry - something's wrong with your voting patterns... Iconoclasts are fine. Even veering from CW is fine. But come on.... If you never cast a ballot for, say, Rickey Henderson, Greg Maddux, Wade Boggs, Robin Yount, etc and you've been voting for 20-30 years... well... your capability to participate ought to be called into serious question and I'm willing to bet good money that there are a handful of voters that fit that criteria.

It doesn't need to be a public flogging or stripping of the vote... Have a review committee, whatever... 10 years in the BBWAA shouldn't make you a Supreme Court Justice for life in regards to the Hall of Fame.

The process simply does not need cranks who, say, write-in Pete Rose and vote for no one else every year.
   28. Davo Dozier Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4633447)
Bill James's proposed solution from The Politics of Glory (keep in mind, the book is now 20 years old, and I don't know if he still believes all of this):

(James) describes an alternative voting system that would consist of five panels—one each for the media, the fans, the players, baseball executives and professionals, and what he calls "baseball scholars". Each panel would be able to nominate players individually, but for election a player would need the approval of four out of the five panels.


To join the "Baseball Scholars" panel, you'd need to be able to pass a SABR-like test of baseball history. When I first read that as an 11-year-old, it sounded like the coolest thing ever!
   29. Morty Causa Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4633470)
I kind of like the way the Stonecutters selected their members. Especially the singing.
   30. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4633475)
I kind of like the way the Stonecutters selected their members. Especially the singing.

But then Steve Guttenberg would get elected to the HOF and, just, well...no. Then again, when they rename it the No Homers club, Duane Kuiper is a shoo in.
   31. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4633482)
As pointed out, giving a vote to a broadcaster has the issue of employment with the team that is really tough to overcome.


What about guys like Gurnick in this instance? He isn't technically paid by the Dodgers (I assume that MLBAM issues his checks), but he is the beat writer for Dodgers.com.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4633494)
wrong thread
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4633503)
wrong thread.
   34. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4633512)
wow, so close

   35. TJ Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4633531)
I’ve yet to see a concrete, working model of a way that would be better.


I'll try, and I'll start with the working reality that the BBWAA will never have the vote taken away due to fear of negative publicity by both the HOF and MLB.

1. Limit the number of BBWAA voters to a set total, say 400. Right now any writer who is a member for 10 years gets to vote. Change that to any writer who is a member for 10 years gets to apply to become a voter. Let the BBWAA decide who then gets to vote (using standards defined in conjunction with the HOF and MLB), and those that are selected hold their voting seat for a set number of years- say, four HOF elections sounds about right. They can then reapply along with everyone else. (Or a rotation system could be developed which would replace a percentage of the voters every two years or something.) No more Supreme Court appointments for life.

2. Have The BBWAA define the standard for A) the HOF voter in terms of content, professionalism, and time commitment; and B) The BBWAA stance as an organization on the whole question of PEDs. This would provide those selected to vote with guidelines for how to make their calls. (Hopefully, the BBWAA would tell Shaughnessy and his ilk to quit insulting dedicated fans, structurally eliminate the "I never vote for first ballot" types, and all the rest of the personal nonsense which lessens respect among fans for the process.)

3. Have all voters submit written explanations for their ballot for BBWAA peer review. Any voter who does not meet the new standards for HOF voting goes on probation for one year. They fail again, they lose their vote and cannot get it back. These submissions should also be made public, along with the votes. Publishing these after the election results are announced would be fine. If the BBWAA wants the vote, let them hold their individual voters to a higher standard than "He's been a member for 30 years, so cut him some slack."

The HOF vote is seen by BBWAA members as a privilege/perk. While I don't doubt that many BBWAA voters take it very seriously, the overall process as it is currently operated falls short of any sort of professional standard. The process protects the individual incompetents, much as any union is often accused of doing. The only qualification is longevity, with an assumption that longevity provides HOF competence. They are two separate issues. Longevity can help with HOF competence, but does not guarantee it. I am a museum pro myself, and the equivalent in the museum world would be to consider someone capable of being a curator because they worked as a guide at a particular exhibit for ten years.

Three additional suggestions for the BBWAA and its members:

1. Stop with the "Look at the results! They show we know what we're doing!" nonsense. The reason the BBWAA has a better record than the VC's is that the BBWAA gets first shot. If the VC's did, then they would have been the ones inducting Ruth, Mays, Schmidt, Henderson, etc, and the BBWAA would be the ones debating Bill Mazeroski and Jim Bunning.

2. Drop the "It's a free election, so voters can do whatever they want. It's all opinion." It shouldn't be. This isn't a constitutionally-protected democratic free election. The HOF has contracted an outside organization- the BBWAA -to provide the service of identifying HOF inductees due to an assumed higher degree of knowledge. The chosen method of doing so is by an election open to select members of the BBWAA. To truly compare this to a democratic election, then the presidential vote would be restricted only to college graduates with a BA in Political Science. The purpose of the BBWAA vote is not to express an opinion on anything other than the HOF worth of individual candidates.

3. Don't play the "I don't like what he did, but he has a right to do it" card. If any BBWAA member wants a greater degree of respect from the baseball fan community, then all they have to do is clean up their side of the street and further professionalize their process. Get rid of the HOF voters who do not measure up to what you as a voter feel is the appropriate standard. Create and define expectations that you and your fellow voters need to live up to, and don't let those that don't vote. You say voting for the HOF is an honor- great. I believe you- live up to it.
   36. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4633593)
Then again, when they rename it the No Homers club, Duane Kuiper is a shoo in.


Nope, he can't get into that club either!
   37. TJ Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4633620)
Then again, when they rename it the No Homers club, Duane Kuiper is a shoo in.


Wahoo! Maybe we Detroit fans can induct Ray Oyler!
   38. Morty Causa Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4633629)
Remove the Stone of Shame!
   39. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4633654)
Nope, he can't get into that club either!

I said no Homers club!
   40. villageidiom Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4633661)
The information is out there. How ####### lazy do you have to be to require it served to you on a silver platter?
Abraham's point is that they are already getting some stats delivered on a silver platter, so they might as well be useful stats. Perhaps his concern is that there are some lazy voters who consider the given stats as the only relevant stats. (He does work with CHB, after all.)

I'm pretty skeptical that, say, an 80s beat writer for the Pirates has any special insight about whether Jack Morris belongs in the HOF that is not shared by a Pirates beat writer who worked from 2000-2010.
The former likely remembers what the latter never knew.

The argument that the insight of a contemporary writer is useless is a stats-based argument. That is, the foundational stats remain unchanged over time, so anyone looking at Morris' stats today will see the same thing someone would have seen 15 years ago and would have equivalent insight. Maybe those stats are spun differently now, with more advanced metrics than were available many years ago, which is an even stronger case that the contemporary view should be discarded.

But the contemporary information is not useless. The criteria for a Hall of Fame vote extend beyond the stats. The people in the best position to contemplate that part are the people who were actively covering the sport when those players were active. That I, an adult since the late 1980s who did not cover the sport, cannot judge the veracity of the non-stats pieces does not mean they are irrelevant. That the voters are no longer covering the sport, and cannot rightly assess anything beyond the stats for recent players, does not disqualify their older knowledge any more than Peter Abraham is disqualified for not having covered Jack Morris.
   41. Morty Causa Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4633680)
Any system is really okay as long as the induction ceremony involves running a gauntlet of paddling naked.
   42. TJ Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4633690)
Any system is really okay as long as the induction ceremony involves running a gauntlet of paddling naked.


Well, that should get us some female inductees...
   43. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4633713)
Abraham's point is that they are already getting some stats delivered on a silver platter, so they might as well be useful stats. Perhaps his concern is that there are some lazy voters who consider the given stats as the only relevant stats. (He does work with CHB, after all.)


The problem is that someone who is just using those stats probably is making the decision based on what he "knows." CHB is a great example. I have no doubt that he decided who the Hall of Famers were then pulled stats to support his argument. Do we really think Murray Chass or Shaughnessy or the Golf Digest guys are going to change their mind because Kevin Brown had a higher ERA+ or JAWS score than Jack Morris?
   44. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4633748)
One fix that would help greatly is to remove the voting privileges of any writer who submits a ballot with less than 2 names. If you are a writer given voting rights for the HOF, and can't find at least two candidates qualified for the HOF to vote for each year, you have failed the most basic test of HOF voter ability and worthiness.

Major league baseball has existed for roughly 140 years & elected 240 players as of today. That's 17 per decade, or 1.7 per year.

During most of it's existence though the MLB had only 16 teams (up till the end of the 1950s), but now has 30 teams. That's almost twice as many players playing the game now, and they deserve a higher HOF induction rate. To do otherwise means requiring todays HOF inductees to meet far higher criteria than inductees of the past ever did.

Even with todays three new selections, the BBWAA has only put in 12 players in the last 8 years, even combined with Veterans committee only 15 total during that span, or less than 2 per year. That's a pathetic rate only suitable for a 16 team league of 70 years ago, not today. Three players inductions a year is probably a reasonable long run average for a 30 team league, but the BBWAA has created such a big backlog that today's inductions are a mere band-aid for the harm they've caused. They need to be inducting 4-5 a year for the next decade just to give justice to the backlogged players.

The best first step is eliminating the empty ballots, that will have a direct effect of increasing every players voting percentage. If it had been done before this election Craig Biggio would be part of this class.


   45. Brett "The Hitman" Gardner Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4633772)
@35 - You, sir, have made a really great series of points here that I'd wholeheartedly support.
   46. DanG Posted: January 08, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4633837)
Yes, TJ has it right. The problem is the BBWAA electorate is a very homogenous group. They bring only one variety of expertise to a task that demands a lot more in order to do it right.

It's nice that they "saw them play" and "got to know them", yadda, yadda. What they lack is expert knowledge of the Hall's history and membership. How many of them could sit down and list even one-half of the players in the Hall? Not many. They mostly don't even know how many players are already enshrined. They have no idea what the de facto standards are for the Hall that have been established over these past eight decades.

Another critical area where the voters lack expertise is, of course, statistical analysis. Not that they need to be sabermetricians, but that they have a solid notion of what the new statistics are telling them.

Finally, there is the historical/anecdotal knowledge. Beyond reading The Boys of Summer and The Glory of Their Times. The past 40 years of SABR publications should be required reading. Professional Baseball teams have been around for 145 years.

So yes, appoint a more select panel of 200 BBWAA members. Then appoint another 200 voters with recognized expertise in these other fields. That would be a vastly better electorate.
   47. rawagman Posted: January 08, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4633846)
BBWAA voting on the Hall of Fame is the original gonzo journalism.
   48. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 08, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4634053)
No. They're stupid and arrogant. Fans do a better job voting for the All-Star Game.
   49. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 09, 2014 at 12:32 AM (#4634268)
I think the biggest change that absolutely should be implemented is to get rid of non-working members . . .

A lot of folks are making this suggestion, but is there really evidence that these folks are voting that badly, i.e., voting that differently than the working BBWAA voters? Sure, there are some anecdotes, but there are similar bad ballot stories about working BBWAA members. If the Hall & BBWAA could be convinced to carefully examine the voting process, this would be worth studying, but I'm not so sure that you'd find distinct voting groups. Also, distinguishing "working" & "non-working" writers may be harder than it sounds in a world of editors, free-lancers, part-timers & hobbyists.
   50. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 09, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4634293)
Right now the Hall of Fame is outsourcing its credentialing process to newspapers and a handful of 'established' websites. The credentialing process of the BBWAA is uneven - most of them are qualified, but a substantial minority is more interested in 'proving points' or establishing their brand than in building the best Hall of Fame possible or interested in whatever that Corky guy who forgot to vote for Rickey was interested in. This should not be a surprise because these guys face incentives that run at cross currents with building the best Hall of Fame possible. The Hall of Fame needs to get off its ass and start building its own credential. In 1939 that would have been difficult, but in 2014 we live in a world where people with niche interests can commune easily within a network that literally spans the globe.

Plenty of amateurs already devote more time to the selection process than the professionals do. The fact that they are amateurs is no reason those people should be blocked from participating in the selection process. If anything, their amateurism is a point in their favor, because their incentives can be much simpler. I doubt patent lawyers or bond traders gain anything professionally by publicizing their latest tantrums.

If I was the Hall of Fame czar, I would create an Internet message board. This message board would center around Hall of Fame topics, maybe even have a Hall of Merit of its own, and have aggressive moderation (not in the Dan Szymborski sense of aggressive moderation either). Posters who established that they are thoughtful and knowledgeable, and maybe possessed a few other positive characteristics, would be invited to vote for the Hall of Fame, as if they were ten-year members of the BBWAA. If the board became popular enough, and reached some sort of critical mass, then I would grandfather all current BBWAA voters, but cease to add from the BBWAA ranks. I also eventually would dump the Veterans Committee.
   51. Rob_Wood Posted: January 09, 2014 at 01:49 AM (#4634300)
Tom Verducci said on the MLB network today that he is on the BBWAA committee looking into what changes they'd recommend to HOM voting. He mentioned they will consider recommending increasing the limit of 10 votes per ballot, removing the 5% minimum, and restricting voting privileges to those veteran BBWAA members who are "current".
   52. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 09, 2014 at 01:53 AM (#4634303)
. . . Any voter who does not meet the new standards for HOF voting goes on probation for one year. They fail again, they lose their vote and cannot get it back. . . .

This just doesn't seem practical. Neither the BBWAA nor any other organization is going to be interested in putting its members on trial, or devoting [non-existent] resources toward these trials.
   53. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 09, 2014 at 02:41 AM (#4634315)
If I was the Hall of Fame czar, I would create an Internet message board. This message board would center around Hall of Fame topics, maybe even have a Hall of Merit of its own, and have aggressive moderation (not in the Dan Szymborski sense of aggressive moderation either). Posters who established that they are thoughtful and knowledgeable, and maybe possessed a few other positive characteristics, would be invited to vote for the Hall of Fame, as if they were ten-year members of the BBWAA. If the board became popular enough, and reached some sort of critical mass, then I would grandfather all current BBWAA voters, but cease to add from the BBWAA ranks. I also eventually would dump the Veterans Committee.

Who gets to be HOF Czar? How is he/she chosen? How much does it pay?
   54. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 09, 2014 at 06:29 AM (#4634327)
To truly compare this to a democratic election, then the presidential vote would be restricted only to college graduates with a BA in Political Science.


As bad of a system as that would be, it might well be better than the current one.
   55. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 09, 2014 at 06:34 AM (#4634328)
Removing the 5% minimum is a great idea, but only if they reinstate the players who have dropped off the ballot before the end of their fifteen years, like Kevin Brown and Lou Whitaker (and Raphael Palmeiro).
   56. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: January 09, 2014 at 08:38 AM (#4634339)
Neither the BBWAA nor any other organization is going to be interested in putting its members on trial, or devoting [non-existent] resources toward these trials.


Especially senior members. Organizations like the BBWAA exist to protect the its most senior members.
   57. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: January 09, 2014 at 08:40 AM (#4634340)
Who gets to be HOF Czar?


Nicholas II

How is he/she chosen?


Strange women, lying in ponds, distributing swords.

How much does it pay?


How much you got?
   58. TJ Posted: January 09, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4634358)
How is he/she chosen?

Strange women, lying in ponds, distributing swords.


Maybe the BBWAA could change the selection process to weighing the candidates to see if they weight as much as a duck...
   59. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: January 09, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4634362)
Either that or see if they can grow a shrubbery.
   60. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4634388)
We're Knights of the Self-Important
We're quite an odd assortment
Despite your skill, you’re nothing till we render our endorsement
We own the keys to Cooperstown, that picturesque old supertown

Step, step, step, kick

We're Knights of the Self-Important
Our logic is abhorrent
Remember when Jack-Jack pitched ten, thank God pants are absorbent
You can’t just get in Cooperstown, at least not with computerstown

Kick, jump, spin, spin, bounce

We’re Knights of the Self-Important
Though half of us are dormant
My ballot’s blank, except for Frank and a write-in for Mike Morgan
Because of us, dear Cooperstown has become a hopeless FUBARtown

(big finish)
   61. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4634392)
I think the problem with the process is not the process itself, but the extent to which it has become about the electorate and not the players on the ballot. And that, in turn, can be directly traced to (a) the increasing number of voters who reveal their ballots in advance of the announcement, usually with a blast at some aspect of the process, and (b) the number of people who are still fighting the saber-vs-MSM battles of the 1990s, over the same population of players but now in a different context. It's fascinating, the extent to which the discussions on HoF voting mirror the discussions on rec.sport.baseball at the time those players were playing.

Which is why I suggest that the BBWAA, instead of trying to do what Verducci suggests, try instead to push for releasing all of the votes publicly at the same time, after time has passed after the announcement of the inductees, and on penalty of losing one's voting privileges if a vote is revealed prematurely. Right now the writers who choose to reveal their votes have an inordinate amount of control over the tenor of the discussion - and it's clear that some subset of them are doing what they are doing because people pay attention to them when they do. Take it out of the realm of public discussion until after the announcement, and maybe the focus can be put back on the players involved.

-- MWE
   62. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4634401)
Should the BBWAA be in charge of voting for the Hall is asking the wrong question. The right question is, what do you want to accomplish by your voting process?

If the goal is a Hall of Fame that best represents "value", and is objective and takes in a wide variety of viewpoints from mathematical to narrative, then no, but it is an semi-OK proxy for that, especially until recently (Steroids).

If the goal is to publicize MLB and the game, get people talking, writing, and think about baseball, to celebrate baseball (including the commotion over the controversy of it all) through a mechanism of honoring the greatest players then the BBWAA (especially as it is evolving into including websites and such) is the perfect vehicle, warts and all.
   63. DanG Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4634428)
Ten Years ago I put out a nice reform proposal for the HOF that's still archived at Primate Studies.

As for the 5% Rule, it hasn't just recently become a problem with the offing of Lofton and Brown; it's been bad news since Day 1. Here are a few of the players getting cut down by the rule since its inception in 1979:

1979 Ken Boyer – 5 years on ballot
1980 Ron Santo – 1
1982 Bill Freehan – 1
1983 Jimmy Wynn – 1
1983 Dick Allen – 1
1988 Reggie Smith – 1
1992 Bobby Grich – 1
1994 Ted Simmons – 1
1995 Darrell Evans – 1
1996 Dan Quisenberry – 1
1997 Graig Nettles – 4
1997 Rick Reuschel – 1
1998 Willie Randolph – 1
1999 Dwight Evans – 3
2001 Lou Whitaker – 1
2004 Dave Stieb – 1
2006 Will Clark – 1
2007 Albert Belle – 2
2007 Bret Saberhagen – 1
2009 David Cone – 1
2011 Kevin Brown – 1

The players from Lou Whitaker on down still technically fall under the BBWAA's 15-year window.
   64. TJ Posted: January 09, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4634437)
We're Knights of the Self-Important
We're quite an odd assortment
Despite your skill, you’re nothing till we render our endorsement
We own the keys to Cooperstown, that picturesque old supertown

Step, step, step, kick

We're Knights of the Self-Important
Our logic is abhorrent
Remember when Jack-Jack pitched ten, thank God pants are absorbent
You can’t just get in Cooperstown, at least not with computerstown

Kick, jump, spin, spin, bounce


We’re Knights of the Self-Important
Though half of us are dormant
My ballot’s blank, except for Frank and a write-in for Mike Morgan
Because of us, dear Cooperstown has become a hopeless FUBARtown

(big finish)


Gonfalon, I bow in respect to you, sir. I'll be laughing about this one all day...
   65. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 09, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4635104)
Which is why I suggest that the BBWAA, instead of trying to do what Verducci suggests, try instead to push for releasing all of the votes publicly at the same time, after time has passed after the announcement of the inductees, and on penalty of losing one's voting privileges if a vote is revealed prematurely.

People in the news business, even sportswriters, are unlikely to agree to prior restraints on publishing anything, including their own views on the news of the moment. Equally important, reader interest in a writer's HoF ballot is greater before the results are known. Many years it is easy column (or columns!) to write, and the BBWAA members are not going to pass up an opportunity to earn their pay during the offseason.
   66. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2014 at 06:27 PM (#4635112)
Tom Verducci said on the MLB network today that he is on the BBWAA committee looking into what changes they'd recommend to HOM voting. He mentioned they will consider recommending increasing the limit of 10 votes per ballot, removing the 5% minimum, and restricting voting privileges to those veteran BBWAA members who are "current".


To be clear, expanding the 10 slots per ballot would cheapen Hall elections going forward.

This is not a ballot construction problem. When will people understand that? It's a steroids problem. There are too many players on the ballot who are qualified or over-qualified for the HOF, who won't get in and so will be sucking up 1/3 of the votes for years going forward. Really, only inner circle types will be elected going forward.

The HOF should act to try to save its institution, by making it clear that steroids are not to be considered in the voting. They should then declare that any voter who makes steroids a relevant criteria will be stripped of his or her vote going forward. Violation of this rule won't be difficult to determine: writers are only to happy to out themselves and wax sanctimoniously about why they voted the way they did. Writers will view this as a stand, a la Reverse Le Batard, and go down in flames on their own volition.
   67. Sunday silence Posted: January 09, 2014 at 07:18 PM (#4635161)
IT's well documented that there is no perfect voting system. This probably goes back to ancient times, although a frenchman named Condorcet who sat in the Assembly during their revolution was the first to explain this in logical terms. It's called the Condorcet Paradox.

The idea of being able to police voters, or get better polling numbers, is an intriguing one and something that I would like to see for like IMBD (for movies). It's discussed above, but I dont think you can base it on whether people voted for someone who got 90% (or even 75%) because that does lead to groupthink.

I think a better system would be if the voters were polled on their reasoning, and then go back and see if their reasoning is consistent. Like if they said that The Graduate is the Second greatest movie of all time, and they consider it a comedy. But they turn around and think that Tootsie (another Dustin Hoffman movie) is funnier, then well you have a sort of paradox...

The same thing with say voting for Cal Ripken and noting his defense and then not applying it to Ozzie Smith or what ever sort of logical inconsistency you have. Obviously, you'd have to develop some sort of algorithmn for classifying the reasoning process. And you'd have to have public revealing of votes, as well as reasoning.

Obviously a peer group, such as this one, is far better candidate than baseball writers...

But anyhow, the Romans also encountered this problem and they actually had better ideas then "Let's kill off the obvious trolls" (although I am pretty sure they were good at that too). Their emphasis was not on the "body politic" but rather on the process itself. So they created like the office of Tribune, who could veto certain actions, and also introduce certain legislation.

If you ever heard of the sytem of checks and balances when you studied united states social studies, the US has something like that as well. You'd have to address the process, of how these guys are nominated, how elected and how verified, rather than working on the "body politic" which I am sure is a waste of energy.

THat is the problem I sort of had with Bill James's proposal. It just created different voting groups. It did nothing to address the process.

It would be better to have like a group of analysts, who dont vote, but can veto any stoopid choices. And perhaps another group to nominate. Something like that would be better.

Of course Condorcet, not surprisingly, did not live to see the end of the Revolution. He died mysteriously in prison after his arrest.

   68. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 09, 2014 at 07:22 PM (#4635164)
This is not a ballot construction problem. When will people understand that? It's a steroids problem. There are too many players on the ballot who are qualified or over-qualified for the HOF, who won't get in and so will be sucking up 1/3 of the votes for years going forward. Really, only inner circle types will be elected going forward.


Or, there is more than one problem.

The HOF should act to try to save its institution, by making it clear that steroids are not to be considered in the voting. They should then declare that any voter who makes steroids a relevant criteria will be stripped of his or her vote going forward.


Or, they could do the opposite.
   69. Sunday silence Posted: January 09, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4635169)

To be clear, expanding the 10 slots per ballot would cheapen Hall elections going forward


I agree, and this goes back to a larger point that Mike Emeigh and some of the other posters are making: What exactly is wrong with the voting? What is it you are trying to change?

"What are you stoopid sunday? Everyone knows there's a problem. Dont you get it?"
yl
Well, I dunno. I think you first have to identify what you think is the problem before you can correct.

For instance is the problem:

too much backlog of candidates?
the 5% rule?
Piazza and bacne?
no firm PED policy?
amphetamines = roids?
blank ballots?
selling your votes to whoever?
voting for Jim Rice?
old guys who are senile?
not enuf SABR guys?
overlooking WAR?
not voting for Dick Allen cause he was a Dick?
Voting for Rizzuto cause he was your friend?
voting for Blyleven?

Sorry that Blyleven thing was my own. BUt you get the point. You first have to identify what EXACTLY is the problem?

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