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  • A Plea to the Hall

    A Plea to the Baseball Hall of Fame

    National Baseball Hall of Fame – Mission Statement: “Preserving History. Honoring Excellence. Connecting Generations.

    The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an independent, non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our national pastime.
    The Hall of Fame's mission is to preserve the sport's history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball. Likewise the institution functions as three entities under one roof with a museum, the actual Hall of Fame and a research library. With these parts working together the Museum is committed to fulfilling its mission by:
    Collecting, through donation, baseball artifacts, works of art, literature, photographs, memorabilia and related materials which focus on the history of the game over time, its players and those elected to the Hall of Fame.
    Preserving the collections by adhering to professional museum standards with respect to conservation and maintaining a permanent record of holdings through documentation, study, research, cataloging and publication.”


    Does preserving history mean only representing that which is deemed to be moral and ethical? Is that moral or ethical in itself? The Hall of Fame is an independent, no profit organization. If that is the case why does a ban from Major League Baseball constitute a ban from the Hall? History is history regardless of the perceived stigma attached to certain transgressions. This is about asking the National Baseball Hall of Fame live up to it’s mission statement. The Hall of Fame advocates the preservation of history, then promptly endeavors to stifle that history. As long as it is popular opinion… Mickey Mantle was banned from Major League Baseball for almost 5 years and Willie Mays for about 2 years for working in casinos, yet their plaques remained (as they should, I might add, just making a point). Fergie Jenkins was banned from baseball in 1980 when he was arrested for bringing drugs across the border into Canada. Not just Marijuana, but hashish and cocaine as well. 11 years later he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Gaylord Perry (spitballs), George Brett (pine Tar), Whitey Ford (gunk), Don Sutton(scuffing), Stargell-McCovey-Arron(greenies) are they cheaters? Ty Cobb (bigot, game fixer), Cap Anson (bigot), Babe Ruth (drunk, womanizer), Hack Wilson (drunk), Orlando Cepeda (drug smuggler), Paul Molitor (gambling), Wade Boggs (sex addict) are these exemplary members of society? Trying to find the “honor and integrity” here? I’m not advocating the removal of anyone here, just recognition of the fact that the Hall should be embracing the achievements of the greats of the game from every era.

    The privilege of voting belongs solely to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America in good standing for more than 10 consecutive years. Why? Are these guys really more knowledgeable or have higher standards and values than anyone else? Bill Conlin (pedophile, Spink Award?), really? Can we assume that these folks are above reproach? Why are their votes not released to the public? Even congressmen and senators votes are available to public. They are paid to write about baseball, let them write about it. Don’t let them use their vote to promote themselves or use it to punish a player they have a personal or professional grievance with because they weren’t as affable as the media demanded them be. Too many use their vote as a great means of self promotion, they may publish their ballot with the view that it will be unpopular and create controversy thus keeping their name in the public eye. Again, let them write. Let them advocate for or against certain players, debate the merits of each of the candidates, but give the vote to the fans. In 2014 Dan La Batard had his voting privileges revoked for turning his vote over to reddit, great publicity for him but it should have been with the fans from the beginning.

    Baseball has been and always will be about the fans, whether it is the fans of the past that supported and helped the game grow or the fans of the future who will continue to nurture the game and help it maintain it’s place as an integral part of American culture. Without the fans baseball would not exist, period… end of story. The fans support baseball at the turnstiles, watching television, purchasing merchandise as well as visiting the Hall of Fame. As such they deserve to be treated with respect and reverence, for without them baseball does not exist. This is a way for the fans to express their love of the game and feel connected to it’s history by being part of it not having it dictated to them. People are not quite as uniformed and illiterate as the Hall of Fame must assume.

    What can be done to improve?
    1. Release writers from the vote
    2. Give the vote to the fans, it works for the All Star Game and there are notable omissions but voting for players that have played for 10-20 years will eliminate the one off great seasons that are missed due to popular vote in All Star games
    3. Let the fans tell you who Hall of Famers are or should be, Major League Baseball isn’t officially affiliated so bans there should have no bearing
    4. Embrace history, good or bad. History is only important if it is accurate and without judgement
    5. Allow the writers the task of selecting the new candidates to enter consideration each year
    6. Voting for the different eras of baseball needs to be addressed as well
    a. selection of contemporary Hall of Fame members and writers from that particular era
    b. if the era goes beyond that from which there are no living members of the Hall or from the writers then committee composed of writers with minimum 15 consecutive years and selection of Hall of Fame members

    There are many ways in which the Hall of Fame could or should change. The fact remains that it should, for the sake of the fan and for baseball itself.

  • #2
    On number 6, I'd suggest panels of scholars from the ranks of SABR (which, contrary to popular opinion, is not just statheads).

    While it's true that there's no formal link from MLB to Cooperstown, there will always be powerful motivations for the Hall to cooperate with MLB (memorabilia, cooperation of players, and so forth). That's never going to go away. I agree that morals are overused as ways to eliminate players, with PEDs as the prime example when even under the current policies it takes several violations of the rule to get kicked out of the game. I'm not inclined to include guys who suddenly "boosted their baseline" from below HOF level to HOF level just coincidentally when there's some significant proof juicing was going on. But keeping out Bonds and Clemens, who had clearly shown HOF caliber performance before there was a hint of juicing is too much IMHO. As for the Black Sox and Pete Rose, the Hall is there to honor all those who made the game the great pleasure it is. It's a place for the sport to honor those guys. Guys who sell out the World Series in the face of a clear anti-gambling ban or managers who gamble on their own team in the face of the gambling ban, not to mention getting sexually involved with several underage girls are not the kind of people anybody should want to honor as emblematic of the sport.
    Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
    Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
    A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Smokin_jJoe_72 View Post
      There are many ways in which the Hall of Fame could or should change. The fact remains that it should, for the sake of the fan and for baseball itself.
      The single greatest reform the Hall of Fame should make is permitting the BBWAA to vote for as many candidates as they deem worthy. That alone will (a) provide a 100% accurate record of the opinion of the electorate (something not currently reflected in the results), (b) ensure no one electors' opinion counts more or less than his fellows, and (c) eliminate "strategic" voting and the several phenomena that accompany it.
      "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
      "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
      "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
      "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
        The single greatest reform the Hall of Fame should make is permitting the BBWAA to vote for as many candidates as they deem worthy. That alone will (a) provide a 100% accurate record of the opinion of the electorate (something not currently reflected in the results), (b) ensure no one electors' opinion counts more or less than his fellows, and (c) eliminate "strategic" voting and the several phenomena that accompany it.
        Because the HOF never defined what a hall of famer is, we do not know how many players should be in the Hall. If they had decided on a definite percentage of all players to be enshrined, they could specify exactly how many players would be elected each year.

        But they didn’t do that, resulting in constant tinkering with the rules to control the spigot. The Hall wants a steady stream of inductions, to maintain interest and to make for a nice ceremony every year. But the flow of candidates into the pipeline is uneven. When the flow is slow, they open the spigot, eventually resulting in a flood. They react by slamming down the spigot, eventually resulting in a drought. And so on: drought-flood-drought-flood….

        This is why they did not change the ten-vote limit when the BBWAA requested it a couple years back. Plenty of players are being elected; the Hall doesn’t want to encourage voters to elect even more. Perhaps they will be more open to this idea during the candidate drought in the mid-2020’s.

        Here’s an idea for a project: Suppose that it’s late 1935 and they’re discussing how to start the baseball Hall of Fame. It’s been decided that 1% of retired MLB players will be hall of famers. They have also set the minimum eligibility age at 40.

        They’ve done the research, so they know that there were 5,998 former MLB players inactive in 1935. They also found that 4,767 of these were age 40+ by the end of 1935. So the HOF should already have 48 players (1%). However, that’s more players than they want to elect at one time.

        They decide that they’ll elect four players every year until they reach the target of 1%, in about 16 years. After that, they’ll elect one or two every year to maintain HOF membership at 1%.

        At the present time, January 2019, PI says there are 15,875 former MLB players inactive in 2018, born in 1978 or earlier. So 159 guys should now be in the Hall for their play in MLB. Or if you prefer 1.5%, there should be 238 players (slightly more than the actual HOF).

        Anyone wanna run that?
        Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

        Comprehensive Reform for the Veterans Committee -- Fixing the Hall continued.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Freakshow View Post
          Because the HOF never defined what a hall of famer is, we do not know how many players should be in the Hall. If they had decided on a definite percentage of all players to be enshrined, they could specify exactly how many players would be elected each year.
          1. No one knows how many "should" be in.
          2. The Hall left that up to the voters to decide.

          But they didn’t do that, resulting in constant tinkering with the rules to control the spigot. The Hall wants a steady stream of inductions, to maintain interest and to make for a nice ceremony every year. But the flow of candidates into the pipeline is uneven. When the flow is slow, they open the spigot, eventually resulting in a flood. They react by slamming down the spigot, eventually resulting in a drought. And so on: drought-flood-drought-flood….
          3. For these (obvious) reasons, the Hall should always have required at least one new inductee per year.
          4. Also for these reasons, the Hall needed to either maintain perpetual eligibility for players before the BBWAA or, relegate them after a reasonable period of time to a special committee of experts. The dividing line should ideally be between the period of time where BBWAA members are no longer familiar with the candidates.
          5. The Hall sort of, kind of did #4 there, but the current 10-year tenure on the BBWAA isn't remotely where that division used to (or should) be.

          This is why they did not change the ten-vote limit when the BBWAA requested it a couple years back. Plenty of players are being elected; the Hall doesn’t want to encourage voters to elect even more. Perhaps they will be more open to this idea during the candidate drought in the mid-2020’s.
          6. Agreed. Bottleneck or no, the Hall isn't interested in large inductions becoming routine. I see the mid 2020s as a repeat of the 1990s and 2000s. In other words, the Hall won't see it as a problem. Even when we have another 2013.

          Here’s an idea for a project: Suppose that it’s late 1935 and they’re discussing how to start the baseball Hall of Fame. It’s been decided that 1% of retired MLB players will be hall of famers. They have also set the minimum eligibility age at 40.

          They’ve done the research, so they know that there were 5,998 former MLB players inactive in 1935. They also found that 4,767 of these were age 40+ by the end of 1935. So the HOF should already have 48 players (1%). However, that’s more players than they want to elect at one time.

          They decide that they’ll elect four players every year until they reach the target of 1%, in about 16 years. After that, they’ll elect one or two every year to maintain HOF membership at 1%.

          At the present time, January 2019, PI says there are 15,875 former MLB players inactive in 2018, born in 1978 or earlier. So 159 guys should now be in the Hall for their play in MLB. Or if you prefer 1.5%, there should be 238 players (slightly more than the actual HOF)
          Great idea and I would suggest the 1.5% is more akin to what the BBWAA should have been doing all along (to avoid the "demand" for a VC).
          "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
          "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
          "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
          "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jalbright View Post
            On number 6, I'd suggest panels of scholars from the ranks of SABR (which, contrary to popular opinion, is not just statheads).
            No, it isn't just statheads, but it is predominantly people who aren't scholars at all. The pool of scholars would be quite small, and some of them are off their rockers as to who should be in the HOF. Heck, even some SABR folk think some SABR members should be in the HOF. The vast majority of people have no care what SABR thinks, and we should keep it that way.

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