Quick thought, sports and politics

My Modest Reform for the Baseball Hall of Fame Voting

There is no Hall of Fame more revered, more controversial than the baseball HOF.  Every year, fans debate passionately who belongs and who doesn’t, citing stats, perception, and more emotion than the climax of a Nicholas Sparks movie.  An added twist is the steroid debate, where some of the most dominant players of the game are disqualified by a large number of voters because of their conduct.

This year’s choices were moderately easy – Ken Griffey Jr.was not only dominant for his era but one of the greatest players of all time, as well as one of the most liked (and don’t kid yourself, this matters).  Mike Piazza, despite steroid use rumors, was too dominant and seen as too dominant to leave out of the Hall.  There were a few players who just fell short that have serious proponents, especially Tim Raines, but outside of the usual steroid accused who are eliminated by 50% of voters automatically, there was little debate about who was deserving and who was not.

It could be like this every year for the Hall, as the idea of passionate debate over who belongs in the Hall of Fame is perplexing when you consider it.  This is the Hall of Fame, where the game’s best and brightest belong, and yet we still debate whether a player is one of the best.  Greatness should not be debatable, and actually what is debated prior to the announcement of the writers’ votes is whether certain very good players deserve to make the Hall of Fame.

Thus I submit my modest proposal to change the voting process for the Hall of Fame.  On a date every year chosen by the Hall’s Committee, every eligible voter should gather for a meeting; virtual participation would be welcome as well.  During that meeting, each eligible candidate’s name will be presented to the voters.  If after 2 minutes of discussion and debate there is unanimous consensus that the player belongs in the Hall of Fame, said player is elected.  If there is not unanimous consensus, then the player rolls over to the next year and so on for 5 years (shortened from 10 years).

True greats of the game do not need serious thought; Ken Griffey would be passed by this method in less than 10 seconds.  Your Cal Ripkens and Nolan Ryans would sail through, while people like Raines or Jim Rice would not make the Hall simply because there is no unanimous consensus they are among the game’s greatest.

The focus under this method shifts from “is this player Hall of Fame worthy” to “is this player one of the greatest ever”.  The Hall itself would have to adjust, possibly creating a wing or separate building honoring those who were very good or dominant for a short period (henceforth known as the Dale Murphy Wing).  Yet if the Hall of Fame is to be for the true greats, the titans of the game, this new method of election would be more efficient at recognizing them for their true impact on the game.


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