Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press has been taking considerable grief on social media over his Hall of Fame ballot, in which he games a flawed system.
He left both Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, admittedly worthy candidates, off his ballot, ont he grounds that they won't need his vote to get in, and used that space to include Larry Walker and Alan Trammell, candidates he believes need his vote more.
Berardino doesn't need my approval, but he's got it. His ballot isn't particularly close to my theoretical 10, but there's no joke votes cast. He didn't drop Randy Johnson from his list so he could vote for Eddie Guardado. He voted for legitimate candidates who wouldn't be out of place with a plaque.
I not only understand why he did what he did, I think his approach is inevitable because of the structural flaws in the process, in particular the maximum-of-10 ballot and the 5 percent-or-out rule.
Berardino's 10, alphabetically:
I not only had Pedro and the Unit on, but Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens as well. I left off Schilling, Walker, E. Martinez and, the one that irks me most to leave off, Piazza.
Berardino was reading the tea leaves and decided that votes for Johnson and Martinez would just be piling on for them, while votes for Trammell and Walker might be necessary to keep them on the ballot. Had I an actual vote, I would have been tempted to leave Johnson and Martinez off as well, and cast the "extra" votes for Schilling and Piazza.
There are just too many deserving candidates on the ballot and too many goofballs in the electorate to work through the backlog. The system needs an overhaul.