Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Annual Rant on Hall of Fame Voting: 2009

Rickey Henderson, unsurprisingly, was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot; Jim Rice was voted into the Hall of Fame in his last year of eligibility, else he would have been in limbo for years until the Veterans' Committee can (not) vote for him (the Veteran's Committee hasn't voted in anyone in years, probably decades; the players are worse the writers, it seems, holding a tougher standard).

Why Wasn't Rickey Unanimous?

Heck, why wasn't Willie Mays unanimous? Or Hank Aaron? Or George Herman "Babe" Ruth! That has been my problem with the Hall of Fame voting, when players who are obviously Hall of Famers does not get all the votes available. How could any of those players be in doubt? At least, without any need for brain surgery or a new brain. How could these three players not be unanimous?

Likewise, why not Rickey? 28 voters did not vote for Rickey, one of the one name players in the history of the game: Mays, Aaron, Ruth, Ty, Ted, DiMaggio, Mantle, Seaver, Ryan, Koufax, Gibson, etc (just quickly off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many more). How can you not vote for the guy who scored more runs than anyone in history? On top of that, he revolutionized the leadoff spot, adding an element of power that most did not have, plus also broke the career stolen base record as well, and held the career record for walks until Bonds took the crown. How many players today can retire with the top spot in one key offensive category, let alone three like Rickey? And still 28 voters were not impressed with that.

Now, if it was that some of them thought that nobody deserves to go in unanimously, then I guess I would grudgingly give them that, though I still think that is a silly reason not to vote him into the Hall of Fame in his first year. Come on people: he had the top spot in three key offensive categories and look to hold the remaining two of them for as long as Ty Cobb held his record, if not longer.

There was one writer who admitted that he made a mistake and would change his vote if he could now. At least he admits his mistake, but still, even a blind man could see this one, as the saying goes. Why didn't he see this when he voted? How can you not see this?

What Has Rice Done in Last 14 Years?

On the flip side, Jim Rice got in after 14 years of being kept out. He's happy just to be in now, and I have no problem with him in (I could go either way with him, much like the voters), but as he himself noted, he hasn't done anything in the last 14 years, so why now and not earlier? I guess I answered my question there, since I'm on the fence with him too. However, I would have voted for him all 15 years. Because, while I think he's a Hall of Famer, it would not have been an outrage for me without him in there either and hence my ambivalence.

The True Outrage

Meanwhile, someone who I think should have been in years ago fell short again: Bert Blyleven. He was usually described as having one of the best curve balls ever and won a lot of games despite pitching for pretty lousy teams, and had a long career that he probably could have milked to get to 300 if he had wanted to, but didn't. He has a winning percentage of .534 for his career when the teams he played for combined probably isn't even .500. Yet, still not close to making the Hall, though he is close enough to think about it, as he has 62.7% of the vote and need 75% to get in; but that is still 67 votes short. In addition, his 15 years should be up soon, I think in 2012.

Remedy

I've been trying to think of some sort of remedy, but anything I could think of would just drive the ones who would have voted incorrectly to vote correctly and not have their vote rescinded, as I would hope. The best I could think of so far would be to give writers three strikes, so that they can get two out of their system before they are forced to vote the way they think others think, and you get a strike when a player gets a high percentage, which could be 90% or even 95% (though Rickey technically had 94.8%, and thus would not qualify, so perhaps 90% is better), on their first vote (though I doubt any player has ever or will ever get over 90% many years after their first year of eligibility).

The only way this works is if the writers are not informed of their two strikes, but rather had to keep track of it themselves if they care enough. Then when the third strike happens, since they were not aware of where they were, they get kicked out and have their vote taken away. However, once the first writer gets the heave-ho, the rest of the voters will probably start deligently counting their misses and there would be no more strikeouts and players would start getting 100% of the votes.

If you have a better idea, then I am all ears.

3 comments:

  1. Couldn't be more in agreement with you about Blyleven. I've been saying the very same thing for years. He should've be in a long time ago. It's a crime that the voters don't recognize this.

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  2. I wish the people who voted for crap like this actually knew anything about the sport; Mays, Ruth, and Koufax not unanimous? Please. It also pisses me off that when Bonds' time comes, he probably won't even make it in, despite the fact that he was, for a pretty long time, the most feared hitter ever. Same with Clemens. I understand that PED's are bad and all, but it's not like PED's alone got either of those players to where they were. It doesn't make what either of them did any less remarkable. It bothers me to no end that most baseball honors (HOF and awards like MVP, CYA, GG, etc.) are voted for by idiots who don't know anything more about stats than homeruns and wins. [End angry rant]

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think Blyleven would have been elected long ago if he had played for better teams. He is slowly gaining- hope he gets in before his 15 years are up.

    I think many writers use their votes to get back at the players who they didn't like or who they didn't get along with. I'm sure some were turned off by Rickey's occasional showboating, but as a reporter you have to be able to put aside your personal feelings, IMO.

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