Anyone that has followed our blog over the years knows how much I really dislike the process the Hall of Fame takes in electing those who are worthy to enshrinement. From the voters believing that certain players are Hall of Fame worthy, but not in their first year, or their second year, or maybe not in their first 10 years on the ballot. Or you have some voters who feel that if Hank Aaron, Willie Mays or Babe Ruth were not elected unanimously that no one should ever be. While I dislike and disagree with these particular thoughts from the baseball writers, I can live with them. What I cannot live with though, is writers turning in a blank ballot, not voting for anyone. Not because they do not feel that anyone is worthy, but because they are trying to make some kind of a point.
Earlier today, Mark Faller announced to the world that he was leaving his Hall of Fame ballot blank, and feels that his decision to do so “sends a major message”. My question to him is simple. What message does your decision not to vote send, and who are you trying to send this message to?
If the message you are sending is directed at the Hall of Fame, you are wasting your time. The Hall of Fame has given up their say as to who should or should not be in the Hall of Fame. They leave that decision up to you, the writers. They leave that decision up to the veteran’s committee. If they really wanted to go against either of these groups, Pete Rose and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson would both be in the Hall of Fame today. They are both Hall of Fame players and deserve enshrinement. But why are they still sitting on the outside? That is because they have given the responsibility solely to you Mr. Faller. They trust that you and the baseball powers to be, will make the right decisions, and never stand to correct you even if they disagree. So your message must not be directed at them.
Maybe your message is directed at the other writers, the ones who you stand side by side with. This cannot be your target either, because several of your peers have gone on record saying they will not vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Sammy Sosa because they are surrounded by the stigma of steroid use. However, they are still voting for players they feel are Hall of Fame worthy. They are just opting not to check the box next to any of the three targets. Why can you not do the same? Could your reason be because you are trying to change the world one non vote at a time? Or are you just trying to garner some attention in a baseball world where you are almost invisible? If I were a betting man, I would say that is the reason. But, let’s move on shall we? Let’s see if we can figure out who your message is directed to.
The fans of baseball must be in your sights, right? The very fans that stood up and cheered this super hero lookalikes every stop of the way until they were exposed for the steroid users they were? Not sure I buy this one either, as you never bite the hand that feeds you. Besides, half of them are on your side. Half of the fans are in full agreement that none of the steroid era mashers deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. You do not need to convince them to side with you that they are not worthy, that these players are considered a disgrace to the game. Those fans are on your side, and the other half do not care and will be swayed. So you would be wasting your print space fighting a losing battle.
No, you say you are taking a stand against baseball. You are taking a stand against the baseball powers that be who stood idly by while the steroid era exploded onto the scene. For some reason, you feel that your non vote for anyone on the ballot this year is making a stand. You are pointing your finger into the face of baseball and saying shame on you for allowing this to go on. What do you think this stand of yours is going to accomplish? Do you think that they will see your lone unchecked ballot and make a change? You think that your unchecked ballot is going to remove any and all players from the steroid era from any and all consideration for this year and all years to come?
Do you honestly believe that the steroid era is over? Or that the decade of the 90s is where everything began? If so, you are completely fooling yourself. Steroids have been around for ages, and have been used by athletes for decades. When they made their transition from the Olympics to baseball, no one can say for sure. What I can say for sure, is that steroids are just as prevalent in the game today as they were in the “steroid era” Just because there is testing now, does not mean that there are not players who are beating the system.
If you refuse to vote this year, because the cloud of suspicion hovers over all those who are eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame, what are you going to do next year? How about the year after that or the year after that? Do you believe there will be any less suspicion on these players or any other player that comes after as the years go by? Not likely. In a few years, there will be more players on the ballot who have the cloud of suspicion hovering over them as well. I assume, you will get up on your soap box those years as well, otherwise you will look like an awfully big hypocrite.
I have a very simple solution for you if you are so confused about who you should vote for and who you should not. Turn in your Hall of Fame voter badge and give up your ballot. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not a right, the vote is an honor that must he earned. You Mark Faller have earned one of the highest honors a baseball writer can receive and you are throwing that honor away and spitting in the face of everyone who is passed over. Your deciding not to vote is a slap in the face, not to baseball as you want this to seem, but to the fans and to all the players who belong on the ballot for “doing things the right way”. Your non vote is a disgrace to everyone who came before you as well as those will be around long after you cast your final vote.