Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fallout over 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame voting

In light of Andre Dawson's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, much attention has been given to the BBWAA writers whose votes put Dawson in, but kept out the likes of Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Barry Larkin. Many non-voting writers, fans and bloggers cried foul when some BBWAA writers said they didn't vote for the likes of Alomar and Larkin just to make them wait a year. There was also outrage over the reportedly five BBWAA writers who submitted blank ballots, including Jay Mariotti who said he didn't care if he was thrown out of the BBWAA.

Howard Bryant of wrote an excellent piece entitled, "Outrage at HOF voting baseless", where he reminds us the likes of Cy Young, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Rogers Hornsby, Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra weren't elected on the first try. Look at that list. Cy Young (the most wins ever), Rogers Hornsby (2nd highest career batting average all-time), Joe DiMaggio (arguably the best centerfielder ever) weren't "first-time" Hall of Famers. Bryant argues that, "Alomar cannot claim superiority over anyone on that list. Each was eventually inducted, and the free world survived." Bryant is right, the clock keeps turning and Alomar and Larkin will see their plaques next to these legends in the near future. This doesn't mean that the process isn't flawed.

While past transgressions in voting don't justify this year's results, maybe the publicity given to this year's vote will start a shift in voting where the BBWAA writers vote for candidates that are Hall of Fame material starting from the first year they are on the ballot. There is no need to make a candidate wait just because the sole reason for not voting is that it is their first year of eligibility. Let's begin to dissolve the mythical sanctity of the "first ballot" Hall of Famer by voting for players like Alomar and Larkin as soon as they're eligible.


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