A CHANGE WOULD DO YOU GOOD

By:  Holly Horning

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

                                                                    – The Baseball Hall of Fame instructions to the BBWAA


With each passing year, I’m having an increasingly difficult time taking the Baseball Hall of Fame voting seriously. And with each year, there’s yet another writer who reveals selections that turn out to be either greatly disappointing – or highly disturbing.

This year’s voting results will be announced next week. Just in time for the full moon.

And in the run-up to the election, more and more writers are expressing their deep discomfort with the voting process. Some have publicly recorded their dissatisfaction with the choices, others have admitted they will not vote and a growing faction is now claiming that this will be their last year voting.

Why?

Because deep down inside, their moral compasses are speaking up. Many of these writers are grappling with trying to balance the statistical part of the game with the other 4 qualifications required for consideration.

Meanwhile, other voters claim that skills and stats are really the only factors that count despite the written instructions given to them.

Once again, there are the maximum number of candidates writers may select – 10. Out of the top 13 players on the master list, only 3 of them – Jeff Kent, Scott Rolen and Billy Wagner – appear to possess undisputable qualities of “integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions.” 

Seven of the others are tied to PEDs. One of those, along with 2 other players, are tied to substantial allegations of domestic abuse. One of those connected to PEDs also had an affair with a minor (a criminal act) while he was married with children. Another candidate had multiple drunk driving arrests.

And the last man comprising this group of 13? Inappropriate and often offensive comments made.

But it’s not the writers who have a hard time casting their votes that bothers me. It’s the ones who chose to ignore indisputable evidence and multiple clues and vote for these questionable players anyway.

Evidence they choose to ignore. Evidence that they choose to ignore the character and integrity clauses completely.

And their rationale is based upon the claim that those players weren’t officially “caught.” They ignore the names listed in the Mitchell Report, the testimony given in court and the BALCO evidence. Even the dramatic change in physique by players who grew heads the size of pumpkins and changed body size to unrecognizable forms. Or the ageing players who suddenly and inexplicitly had significant career resurgences by posting the best numbers of their lives as they entered their mid-to-late 30’s.

Heck, according to them, Alex Rodriquez is clean because he didn’t officially test positive. They ignore the facts surrounding the Biogenisis scandal and thousands of pages of proof.

You don’t have to be Sherlock to see how some players evaded the rules put into place.

Some of these same journalists will also claim that certain players are worthy of induction because “they had already put up great numbers before they started taking PEDs.” They also seem to have forgotten about those pesky character and integrity clauses.

People with those qualities don’t cheat or commit illegal acts.

Yet still other writers within this group have stated that there are others in the Hall who took PEDs so why not allow the others in? As everyone’s mother has said  “Just because they did it, doesn’t make it right.”

And finally, a few uneducated journalists have stated that many within the Hall took “greenies” or amphetamines and equating them with PEDs. Hardly the same. The former contributed temporary energy and alertness. The latter has the capability to dramatically change the body physically – building muscle mass, improving the respiratory system, increasing fast-twitch reflexes, power and speed as well as improving vision and hand-eye coordination.

The late, great Joe Morgan is rolling over in his grave. He was the voice of the Hall of Fame players in his public statements about how PED-related players should never be voted in. It was revealed that those currently in the Hall feel very strongly about keeping them out. Because it goes against the integrity and character clauses. And it insults those who got in without having to resort to cheating. Artificially-inflated stats also diminish and skew the accomplishments of those players who played by the rules.

Just as troubling is the revisionist theory being used as a excuse for voting in modern-day players of dubious character. They point to players from 75-100 years ago being guilty of what is considered today to be inappropriate actions, ignoring the fact that way back when, those actions were, for the most part, acceptable within mainstream society. These writers argue that “if those players were elected back then, today’s players who do not possess great character should be allowed in because there are already scoundrels in the Hall.” They are applying today’s societal standards to actions completed many decades ago.

But the biggest concern in the voting process has to do with freedom of speech. You know who I’m talking about.

Curt Schilling.

We all know that certain players, because of their personalities or ugly behavior towards the media, were eliminated from election because of writers’ personal biases. Just look at Jack Morris’s long slog into the Hall. Or Lou Whitaker, who spent only 1 year on the ballot and is still waiting.

I think we can all agree that Schilling’s statements have often been abhorrent and troubling. But also made a full decade after he left the game. Writers are attempting to punish him for his life after baseball. They are ignoring the rules that clearly state that only those years playing baseball are to be considered.

No matter how you feel about Schilling, trying to deny someone a seat at the table for exercising his right to free speech is the worst act of all. It goes against the grain upon which this country was founded and sets a dangerous precedent that we are seeing in all too many other facets of life these days.

So what are the common denominators that we are seeing here as the BBWAA determines who gets into the Hall of Fame?

Rules are being applied differently depending upon the candidate.

Goalposts are being changed and moved.

Inconsistencies in the decision-making process are being accepted and embraced. Apples and oranges are being equated as the same thing.

Logic and a consistent way of presenting information is absent.

And many don’t seem to mind.

Many of these writers are trying to change the rules so that they suit them. Never mind the established rules. Never mind that these people do not hold a decision-making seat or even sit on a committee that would consider such things. We’ve now got unelected and self-appointed individuals who are trying to circumvent the rules and impose their beliefs on others without a democratic system in place.

For me, there is only 1 way to resolve this mess of a voting system.

Take the vote away from the BBWAA. Afterall, the arrangement for them to do the voting was not based upon qualifications, but on generating publicity for them combined with how news was disseminated back in the early ‘30’s. Times have clearly changed.

So who should take over the voting?

Players and managers. Who better than those who worked and played against you and spent much quality time with you instead of those who were removed from that interaction? Worse yet, those who never knew the individual candidate at all or passed judgment based upon a couple of interviews?

Would you want a stranger passing judgment on you for an important life moment? Of course not.

In a recent MLB tv show that documented the lives of the 7 Hall of Famers we lost this past year, the closing statements were saved for the most special of them. An ending that is based upon character. The narrator said this about him:

“He was welcomed into Cooperstown as a first ballot Hall of Famer. He epitomized what a Hall of Famer is. He was respected and loved by everybody….He was the most perfect gentleman.”

Who is that man?

Al Kaline.

He should be standard-bearer of who gets elected to the Hall.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

18 thoughts on “A CHANGE WOULD DO YOU GOOD

  1. I completely agree that the vote should be given to the players and coaches instead of the writers. The criteria are fine but they are not being applied equally and as you pointed out and yes, players like Sweet Lou suffer because they were not “colorful” and comfortable with the press. No system will ever be perfect and any choices will be subject to debate, but it is time for a change.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The HoF gets less relevant for me on a yearly basis as it no longer tells the stories of all great players. It’s sad that players like Bonds, Clemens, ARod and a few others that were on track to be HoFers without PEDs took them anyway. I’d rather see these players in the Hall, put a statement about PEDs on their plaque if you’d like. These players weren’t media darlings, it will be interesting to see how many votes David Ortiz gets when he is eligible.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Three points–1) with all the hoopla over metrics, set a metric bar for who gets in. 2) full disclosure on character for everyone. 3) have an informal “Hall of Shame” for HOF-level players who merit condemnation. BTW, Hinch should be in the Hall of Shame, just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A metrics bar is problematic. Al Kaline’s batting lines, depressed by playing in the 1960s, would have been unremarkable in the Steroid Era or the 1930s (the batting average of the entire National League in 1930 was over .300). Minny Minoso wasn’t allowed into MLB until he was nearly 30, resulting in unimpressive career totals. But he was a far better player than Harold Baines.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Good point. I guess HOF baseline metrics would have to be adjusted for the time period, perhaps every 20 years? Or at least note the transitional nature of the period, that would account for PED-induced performances.

        Liked by 1 person

      • To adjust for different era’s, I’d like to know how many seasons did the player actually finish among the Top 100 players during his playing career, or among the Top 10 at his position each year. I never bought into having to have 300 pitching wins, 3000 hits, or 500 HR’s.

        Like

  4. I have a problem with changing from sportswriters (always a suspect group) to players and managers. These participants are not immune to the same personal opinions and some may even have grudges against players for non-baseball related issues (who’s sleeping with who’s wife etc). Not many people, let alone baseball people, have the integrity and honesty of Mr. Tiger.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The Hall of Fame Selection Process is not immune to the overall crisis in ethics, integrity and personal commitment to traditions of high moral principal that extends to all areas of our current culture. Its a shame that this generation has allowed its core values to be corrupted. Little good sportsmanship is seen. Cheating is looked at as if its justified because everyone does it, and if you can get away with it, you are smart. Greed has corrupted most sports.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. When Sweet Lou was off the ballot after his first year of eligibility, I lost the last bit of respect I had for the writers. His ultimate election can be debated, but he certainly had the career resume to easily remain on the ballot. The committees are too political and have made a mockery as well. Harold Baines seems like a great guy and was a very likable player. Unfortunately, I found his induction into the HOF indefensible.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Holly, if #6 is the standard for induction, then very few get in. Kaline raised the bar too high. As for PED’s, EVERYONE was complicit, (we all enjoyed the ’98 HR race) Don’t you find it ironic that the people who should have done their job and called out the PED takers (the press) are the arbiters of who gets in? Everyone is a hypocrite about PEDs. You can’t have it both ways.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. This game of baseball the national pastime, has been deteriorating during the past couple decades from moral and cultural evils and if things aren’t turned around soon, we risk the culmination of this wonderful professional sport. This is not unlike so many other American traditions.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. 1: I am repeatedly struck by how the journalists who cover my own field usually have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and consistently write nonsense; There is no reason to believe that sportswriters have any greater claim to authority. 2: After Baines was let in ahead of Whitaker, I lost all interest in how the folks up at Cooperstown choose to decorate their tacky little pseudo Greek Revival plaque room.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’m reminded of Jesus’ admonition that “he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The same standard should apply to HOF voting. What is the ethical and moral character of the voting sportswriters? But then, who am I to talk.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The names of five composers are etched above the entrance of Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. One is Richard Wagner, who was a truly awful human being, thoroughly unscrupulous in his personal dealings, a rabidly anti Semitic and racist polemicist. But he wrote “Tristan” and “Meistersinger”, which is the relevant criterion for his enshrinement there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great analogy nocynic! As a child with a German opera-loving mother, I grew up on Wagner and his music. As I got older and read more about him, it was hard to separate the man and his musical legacy. The HOF is full of people who dazzled on the field and failed to be decent human beings. I wonder what the future holds for enshrining imperfect human beings.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. How about a “cocktail’ HOF qualification vote? Base it on 70% in each of three voting blocs. Each bloc gets equal say, must eclipse 70% in every one, making it tough. 1) Fans nationwide online ballot. Limited to one vote per person. 2) Sportswriters and broadcasters/color man two of each per city, total of 6. 3) Players and managers. All that were active during the candidate’s career only.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We really have to stop worrying about the player’s “integrity”. To quote one of my favorite TV characters: My dad used to love football – but he didn’t like footballers. You have to keep the people that do things apart from what they do.” Luckily, Teresa never expected perfection from me. That being said, we should really be thankful when a “Mr. Tiger” type person comes along.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.