Year after year, the hall of fame election draws all sorts of debate and discussion. The rules are terrible. Someone sells their ballot to Deadspin. Players who everyone thinks should be in are left out. PEDs are discussed again. It’s really a terrible time when it should be a great one.
The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America holds a concurrent election among its members, of which I am one. Therefore, I get a ballot. I have included my ballot because I believe these elections should be open at every level.
Determining who the 15 guys marked on the ballot (which is a rule the IBWAA adopted that the BBWAA needs to adopt like…a long time ago) still proved to be a challenge. Players I did not vote for, like Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield, and Edgar Martinez weren’t necessarily “undeserving”…they just felt less deserving than the guys who did get votes.
The rationale was difficult to develop. Should the PED guys get in? Should someone who was primarily a DH get in, even if he was sensational at it? Does not voting for a DH mean an AL pitcher should also be left out? All of the illogical questions the people who have voted on these things in the past have laid out ran rampant. Unlike some of those people, who choose to turn in blank ballots or less than full ballots, I figured it out.
No way to differentiate between the PED users and players who are clean.More than half of the HOF ballot and those elected linked to PEDs.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 22, 2014
Amphetamines, like steroids, “enhance performance.” How else do we reconcile Aaron hitting 40 HRs in his age 39 season when training, nutrition, and physical performance factors were not close to as well understood as they are now? Some of the “leaded” coffee before the game probably aided in that. He’s in the Hall…so the steroid guys need to be judged based on their numbers, too. Chemistry can’t benefit one group of guys and disqualify another. It’s a double standard that can’t exist.
The question of a DH was also difficult. Ultimately, I decided Edgar Martinez ranked 16th on my ballot. Unfortunately, there were only 15 spots. Defense is an important part of the game and should be considered. Martinez, though, shouldn’t be penalized for the rules of the game. The same logic applies to pitchers who spend the vast majority of their careers in the American League, where they would not be asked to hit. Roger Clemens may have had an advantage during all of those years with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Yankees where he could sit in the dugout and not worry about running the bases, but in the same way it would be unfair to penalize him for that.
The decisions for who to select really boiled down to what the player accomplished on the field. I asked myself how the player compared to others at his position and other players with comparable numbers. There is, without question, some personal bias in the ballot. That’s the human element of an election. I value different things that other voters.
The process of electing new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame is a difficult one. While the ballots submitted by the BBWAA are those which are going to determine the next class (should there actually be one), it is vital to examine each candidate. I tried to take the process seriously, inconsequential as it may be, because it is important.
Hopefully we reach a day where this election is easier, more defined, and has more common sense. Until then, everyone gets to have an opinion. Mine is on paper and submitted for public ridicule. As they all should…
*The list of Players I Voted For*
Barry Larkin (who has not yet reached election threshold in the IBWAA)