Monday , March 19 2018
Home / Culture and Society / Baseball / Baseball Hall of Fame – It’s Time To Change How Players Get Elected
It is imperative that all those stepping onto fields everywhere across the land on Opening Day will have a fair shot at the hall based on their numbers. As it stands, that is obviously not the case.

Baseball Hall of Fame – It’s Time To Change How Players Get Elected

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MLB’s Hall of Fame is the highest honor for its players.

If everyday life had a “hall of fame,” how would people get into it? Would we survey a group of people who observed them and reported on them? Or would we have their friends vote for them? How about their co-workers? I ask these questions because of the latest Major League Baseball announcement of four new inductees (the most since 1955) to the Hall of Fame.


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Craig Biggio deserves to be in the HOF.

I have nothing against the recently elected Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Randy Jackson, and Craig Biggio. Biggio, a Long Island boy, is certainly most deserving and makes New Yorkers proud; however, it’s more about who did not get in – specifically Mike Piazza – and the logic supporting the reason why. New York Daily News sportswriter Bill Madden recently wrote an article describing why he did not vote for Piazza. He describes hearing rumors regarding Piazza using steroids during his career. Imagine that vague whispers and accusations were the reasoning that this fellow used to vote “no” on Piazza. This in and of itself is proof why this subjective kind of process has to be changed as soon as possible.

Madden explains it this way:

First of all, I’ve always had my suspicions about Piazza, even though he never tested positive nor was he mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

Those suspicions were heightened when players who played against Piazza, a number of players, told me he used steroids.

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Piazza has HOF numbers, including most career homers by a catcher.

I have read Madden’s baseball column for years and, for the most part, I have always found his reporting to be solid and his observations to be fair to the people involved. In all those years I never saw him write one article about Piazza using steroids. If he was so convinced of his suspicions, why didn’t he ever expose Piazza during his playing days? The answer is he had no proof and could not write about “suspicions” without looking like a fool – the way he does now. After this, I have lost complete respect for him and refuse to read his articles anymore. For him to vote negatively is less the issue than the reasoning involved – it lacks any merit and is based on hearsay rather than tangible proof.

This case alone makes clear why the voting process to get into MLB’s Hall of Fame is suspect. There are those icons who could have walked in the door without a single vote cast – guys like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth didn’t need any votes for people to know that they belonged in the hallowed hall. Obviously, this is the ultimate honor for guys who play the sport, and it should not be withheld because of the fickle nature of writers like Madden who use less than objective numbers and information to make a decision.

If you look at the voting, Piazza came in fifth and has a shot next time, but perhaps not now since Madden wrote this despicable article. By making his unsubstantiated suspicions public, Madden has sullied Piazza’s name and the voting process. It also makes us question how many other sportswriters have allowed such kinds of things to sway their votes in the past. What if a player was not as open to being interviewed as the affable Piazza? Would a sportswriter hold that against him years later when it was time to cast a vote?

My idea is to take away this privilege from sportswriters and put it into the hands of people who understand the high honor and responsibility this task requires – the players themselves. I think all active MLB players should be able to vote for the candidates – but that there should be a stringent set of criteria based on statistics, years played, and impact the player had on the sport. Using these guidelines, the players would have to tick off some kind of rubric and add the points. After calculating if the player had enough qualifying points based on performance and years played, then the only thing that could prohibit their positive votes would be impact on the game – positive or negative. Someone like Barry Bonds would get equitable consideration by those who play the game, and his selection wouldn’t be in the hands of people, some of whom were very critical of Bonds, who may cast votes for less than objective reasons.

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Players belong here on merit – not on the dubious reasoning of sportswriters.

Of course, players may have their agendas too, and the fear could be that they would vote for a former teammate or friend. Another voting option would be vox populi; MLB trusts the fans to decide who will appear in its annual All Star Game. Why not allow the public to decide who enters the HOF? This would also have its drawbacks too, but anything is better than the present configuration that allows someone like Madden to cast a ballot and then write a ridiculous article that exacerbates his faulty reasoning by making it public.

The HOF is an enormous honor for the men who have played America’s pastime. As a new season gets underway, it is imperative that all those stepping onto fields everywhere across the land on Opening Day will have a fair shot at the hall based on their numbers. As it stands, that is obviously not the case. Piazza deserves to be in there based on his statistics and positive impact on the game, and we have to wonder how many other guys suffered the same fate over the years. It is time to alter the way the votes are cast and that time is now. Can MLB get this right or will this be just another stain on the sport that the fans will have to overlook yet again as they pay higher ticket prices to go to games? It’s your call, MLB.

Photo credits: Baseball Hall of Fame, Wikipedia, ESPN


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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'Heartbeat and Other Poems,' 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.

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  1. As Jayson Stark and others pointed out before the latest Hall inductees were announced, the Hall needs to get rid of the max 10-players to vote for rule. It’s as arbitrary a rule as any other in pro sports. Secondly, I don’t know about fans voting but I think that yes, sportswriters should be banned as a whole from voting ever again and should have been a long time ago – when certain writers took it upon themselves to not vote for someone because he was not a “first ballot” Hall of Famer.

    My suggestion would be to do something more like the NBA and have a prestigious Hall of Fame committee made up of respected baseball historians, broadcasters and sportswriters. It wouldn’t be that big – maybe as big as the NCAA football playoff committee was this year. It wouldn’t solve every controversy but would be better than what we have now.

  2. That sounds like a solid plan, Charlie, but I wonder if MLB would be willing to admit how poor the system is now and make the change. MLB is notoriously slow to make changes.

    • It’s actually the Hall people in Cooperstown that need to do a change – and they’ve now made it tougher for players to get into the Hall by reducing eligibility years from 15 to 10 (in the hopes of getting rid of PED users, I presume, which won’t really work, as you can imagine). The BBWA asked the Hall during the Winter Meetings to at least increase the max voting limit from 10 to 12 – and I don’t know if there’s been a response yet – but the Hall people are just as stubborn as MLB was to make changes, so this will likely take time.

      They’ve already said, according to Stark, there’s “no way (in hell)” they’d ever allow an indefinite amount of players to vote for (which is so stupid), but if the ridiculously low amount of 10 gets increased in the next few years, at least there will be a chance that the growing backlog of players eligible will start to be reduced.

      That won’t happen if writers still vote though – Ken Rosenthall recently wrote that only 50% of writers used all 10 spots to vote for players last year, another reason they should be banned as a whole from voting. So this should go to a super committee. I’m not holding my breath, like you.

  3. Dr Joseph S Maresca

    The public views these games and pays for them through ticket sales. As such, the public should have the final voice in the selection process. Maybe people could call in their votes by mobile phone as is done on TV. A predetermined number of available HOF slots could be announced and the top vote getting candidates would be inducted.