Monday, July 28, 2014

Changes for the Hall of Fame

Last year there were no living inductees to the Hall of
Fame. This year, six. From left: Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa,
Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre.

Six Hall of Famers is a lot. And it wasn't enough.

The writers' ballot is overloaded, and the best they can do is run in place. They picked the the most over-qualified of the new crop of eligibles (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas) but left out more than a dozen players who, by all past standards, merit induction. (The three managers inducted Sunday were selected by a veterans committee, not by the writers.)

This weekend the Hall announced some new rules for the voting. They cut the period for BBWAA voting from 15 years to 10, and in the process pretty much guaranteed that the writers won't induct Tim Raines. Or Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, either.

I think Joe Posnanski nails it in this attempt to divine the Hall's intent: The board wants to keep the 'roid users out, it wants to induct more recent players than the writers will, and it is gearing up to change the selection process. Pos figures -- and I agree --that the sooner the Hall gets Alan Trammell and Raines and a few others out of the writers' jurisdiction, the sooner a "veterans committee" can get them in.

Pos lists every player chosen by the writers in years 11 to 15 on the ballot, all 11 of them. There are a few I wouldn't vote for (Jim Rice, for example, was not as good as contemporary left fielders Raines and Roy White), but there are worse players in the Hall than any of them, and Gabby Hartnett, Bert Blyleven and Duke Snider certainly should each have gone in much sooner than they did. The Hall didn't make this limit because the writers are putting unworthy candidates in after year 10.

I regard the BBWAA vote as broken. They have too many voters with a tangential connection to the game, if that; they have grandfathered voters who would be ineligible had they started their career in their current medium; they have a counterproductive 10-vote maximum on the ballot. The BBWAA thinks the "Deadspin" crowd-sourced ballot cast by Dan LeBatard last winter is an embarrassment, but ignores the fact that the next president has been crowd-sourcing his ballot for years.

The Hall's changes don't address any of those issues. And those are the issues that Posnanski predicts the Hall itself will deal with eventually, because the BBWAA isn't capable of that much rational thought. If it were, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza and Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling and Raines and Trammell would all be in.

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