Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Baseball's Hall of Fame

Voting is a privilege not a right. 
A few voters in baseball need to remember or be reminded of that.

When the Hall of Fame ballots are finally all counted up and announced on Wednesday we should hear the names of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine announced.  Both of these former Braves pitchers should be locks to make it on their first go around.  In the case of Maddux he should be a unanimous choice... He should be the first unanimous choice ever... however he won't be.  It has already been reported that at least one writer has left him off their ballot. 

Voting for awards, and not unlike speculating who will make a certain country's national hockey team can and will be very subjective.  One's person's list likely differs from the next, but only moderately. Can you imagine a Team Canada roster that does not include Sidney Crosby on it?  Probably not. Why? Common sense, he's the best player in the world how could he not be included? The same thing applies to Maddux? The greatest pitcher in his generation, over 300 wins, no suggestions of steroid abuse, just a great pitcher with great numbers, gold gloves, All-Star selections a World Series title and a professor like mentality every time he takes the ball on the mound. Sounds pretty much like Hall of Fame credentials doesn't it?  And yet he would not be unanimous decision because some fool decided he wanted to be the story he wanted the limelight.  In actuality he has brought shame and disrespect to the Hall of Fame the American Baseball Writers Association and himself.  For that he should have his vote taken away and anyone else who decide to use their position to make a silly statement and clearly not take this more seriously should lose their vote too.

This is not an open vote, this is a particular honor given because of his job title. You would like to see a media member, a journalist show some integrity when given an opportunity such as this. When they teach sports journalism one would think that the first lessons would be let the story be the story, don't you be the story. Be objective, be critical if it is warranted but be fair, be honest do not show a bias. 

Now as it relates to the Hall of Fame voting, if this is going to continue to happen reform needs to be made to either the voting process or the members who vote or the criteria required.  If some idiot who covers the Dodgers can make a mockery of the system he should lose his vote, Vin Scully does not even get a vote and I think most will admit he has probably forgot more about baseball that a lot of people know. Dan Shulman, the leading broadcaster on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, does not have a vote. You're giving guys way too much power who probably do not deserve it.  Ever seen or been in a newsroom before? There are usually a lot of people who are severely under qualified to be given this much responsibility. 

Each ballot should be reviewed upon completion by some sort of 'quality control' group or committee and any questionable ballots should be set aside and those who sent it in should be called in and ask to rationalize and defend their decisions, explain why they made the choice they made and if they can't do so that either revoke their right to vote and have the vote completely discounted and then lose their right to vote in the future or perhaps give them the opportunity, a second chance, as it were to make it right going forward.

The other issue in the Hall of Fame voting as to whether or not to allow players from the steroid era to be inducted.  This is an interesting dilemma because it also takes in not just numbers or even perception but also more only issues.  Does Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa or Rafael Palmero deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?  Based on what they do on the field the answer's yes. What they did off the field to make themselves better, that is a different question. There were no rules of the time or testing that prevented them from taking any questionable substances nor did they test positive.  It is naive to think that they were clean, but whose responsibility was it to ensure that they were.  Major League Baseball clearly turned a blind eye to the rampant drug use among their players.  The players association fought tooth and nail to keep drug testing it out of the game.  The baseball writers, the same ones that have the final vote of who is hall worthy did not do anything about it either.  If they are so ethical now and they suspected there was wrong doing at the time either should have done some investigatory journalism and exposed the players or the culture at that time.  They were writers during the steroid era, so by extension shouldn't be subjected to the same standards that they're holding the players to.  Because they were writers during the steroid era all their Hall of Fame votes should be discarded under the same cloud of suspicion and speculation, maybe 87% of the writers were `juicing too`.
Clearly a new system used to be put in place where there is a committee made up of baseball professionals former players and managers and executives something needs to be done.  It is sad when politics and greed and indeed for attention enter into sports and corrupts it. Leave politics to the politicians.

As a side note it is probably about time to open up the doors for Pete Rose.  Sure he is probably not a great guy but the hall is filled with probably not great guys.  But what he was able to do between the white lines is clearly Hall of Fame worthy.  You want him out of baseball, not be able to work in baseball that's fine keep him banned from the game, but a Hall of Fame without the all time hits leader just does not make sense. Not from a game that holds numbers in such high regards. You can have it both ways. 

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