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  • BBWAA experts, representatives of fans, or what?

    I believe this theme should be exhumed from the depths of 1901 retroactive election discussion. Beginning on the third of now four pages there is more on the quality of various electors including especially the BBWAA for Cooperstown and BBFever visitors for numerous projects including BBF HOF.

    On page four jjpm explained what he means by a clear HOFer. That provides some context for the quotation but please don't dwell on it here. He closed with the interpretation that may be interesting or useful to discuss separately. Namely the BBWAA represents average fans and other Hall of Fame selection processes constitute the reliance on experts. I think he means that this fits the understanding and intention of the NBHOFM governors. They think the system works this way and maintain it to work this way.
    (jjpm, please clarify if necessary)
    In writing this preface the interpretation has changed a little in my own mind and it has become a little more appealing. But here is my reply before writing the preface.

    Originally posted by jjpm74 View Post
    [ A clear HOFer is] Someone the majority of people out there recognize as one of the best in the game. . . . We'd like to believe that this community and the HOM community are somehow better than the average fan, but that just isn't the case. The BBWAA represent the fans at large. A [clear] HOFer would be a player that if you were to ask the average fan whether or not they belong in the HOF, the answer would be yes. The more borderline and obscure players would be better suited to a retooled Veteran's Committee.
    jjpm,
    The history of the NBHOFM casts a long shadow over this interpretation. I'm sure they gave the vote to the BBWAA because they considered the baseball writers to be experts rather than representatives of the average fan and I suppose they think it works that way now.

    First that fits the precedent of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans --look to the best of us, not to the masses, to recognize the best of the best (a gross simplification).

    Second, it Baseball's way of doing things. Eg, designating awards voted by the BBWAA as official ones. Eg, intermittently giving all-star selection to experts or limiting the fans to selection of the starting nine so that they don't determine who is an all-star.

    Third, it fits NBHOFM tinkering with the process during my lifetime, continually setting up short-lived relationships with experts other than the BBWAA to help keep the gate or open the door.

    Fourth, I think if fits the tenor of the press conferences where winners are announced. The NBHOFM recognizes that average fans think lots more players are Hall of Famers and values the BBWAA elections (and other selection processes) for maintaining a high standard. At least the current head, Jane Forbes Clark, voices the high standards, gatekeeping interpretation.

  • #2
    (import from another thread, part 2)

    Freakshow replied.
    >>
    That's nice and democratic and all. But electing players to the HOF calls for specialized knowledge. The average fan or the average writer does not possess the qualifications we should be expecting from the voters. An elite electorate, with the requisite knowledge and interest in baseball's history, as well as statistical analysis, is what is needed.

    The voters here and at the HOM are much closer to this ideal of a HOF voter than the "ink-stained wretches" of the BBWAA. We are much more than number-crunchers; we also have a passion for the subject at hand.
    <<

    These quotations are from #86 and #89 but the general theme, quality of BBFever elections and others especially Cooperstown elections, begins on page 3 if not earlier.
    That 1901 thread, page 3 (eg, #65, #72)

    Comment


    • #3
      If Jim or another admin sees this, maybe they could move the conversation to this thread so that it's easier to follow. We spend so much time on the actual players that deserve to be there in our eyes, that maybe it's time to mesh out what exactly the BBWAA's role should be in the election of HOFers.

      Comment


      • #4
        Other than what Paul has put over here, what do you want? Also, understand that I have to copy each post individually, whether I put it in one post or many. If it isn't key to this discussion, I'm not particularly interested in taking my time to do it. If it is important to the discussion, and your request is limited such that it doesn't eat too much into my time, I'll do it. I'm not going to take the time to try and decide what belongs over here on my own. Sorry.
        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


        • #5
          Originally posted by jalbright View Post
          Other than what Paul has put over here, what do you want? Also, understand that I have to copy each post individually, whether I put it in one post or many. If it isn't key to this discussion, I'm not particularly interested in taking my time to do it. If it is important to the discussion, and your request is limited such that it doesn't eat too much into my time, I'll do it. I'm not going to take the time to try and decide what belongs over here on my own. Sorry.
          Sorry. I didn't realize you didn't have the ability to split threads.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think the BBWAA is representative of typical fans in the sense that they are fans first and foremost. Also, any other similarities are a condemnation of the BBWAA as "experts" rather than a vindication of the wisdom of the common fan.

            I completely agree with Dan. We need an exclusionary group as the "gatekeepers" of the system, a group with real expertise in the subjects of their study, a group who takes their role seriously and commits the time and resources necessary to living up to that responsibility. Just because a BBWAA member has a sense of solemnity while submitting his blank ballot doesn't bequeath to him any greater sense of responsibility for his role as a voter. I'm sure a goodly number of the voters, no matter how wrong-headed their voting, feel as if they're truly acting in the best interests of the institution.

            Part of the problem lies in the flawed methodology used in the institutional processes for election, but there's a lot (of negatives) that can be said about the BBWAA in its role as the primary electorate for the Hall of Fame.

            Furthermore, the idea that a player is a "Hall of Famer" because a majority of people think so limits the definition to majority vote. While this is a practical reality, it completely erases any meaning to saying "this guy shouldn't have been elected" or "this guy should have been" because the ultimate authority on the subject remains whether they were, in fact, elected or not.

            And basing any honor on whether an individual "feels like the type" renders the honor as meaningless as the verbage surrounding its bestowment. An educational institution that seeks to honor the greatest individuals in their respective fields and in their respective times, needs to begin by assembling a team of critics who have expertise on the context in which those individuals performed.

            In that respect, the BBWAA is no better than any other avid fan.
            "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


            • #7
              Originally posted by Classic View Post
              And basing any honor on whether an individual "feels like the type" renders the honor as meaningless as the verbage surrounding its bestowment. An educational institution that seeks to honor the greatest individuals in their respective fields and in their respective times, needs to begin by assembling a team of critics who have expertise on the context in which those individuals performed.

              In that respect, the BBWAA is no better than any other avid fan.
              Spot on. Great analogy.

              Another tack is the historical aspect. I believe that since Day 1, the BBWAA and the HOF have been at cross purposes. The HOF wants to honor people; the BBWAA sees itself as a restrictive gatekeeper.

              However, the HOF is concerned with keeping the writers happy. So the BBWAA has been allowed to maintain its restrictive ways, while the Hall has established courts of review to get more players elected. This dysfunctional arrangement has been useful for perpetuating controversy while producing results that are far from ideal.

              It doesn't have to be that way.
              Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                The phrase "average fan" is being bandied about as if we know what that is. If you are talking about the family of four catching a couple games a year then clearly the BBWAA is better than that. And they are certainly better than the corporate types who snap up their company's tickets to the post season games.

                I think we all lose sight of is that in recent years the BBWAA voting closely mirrors the voting that is done by the BBF electorate. We have no superior wisdom than they have. Even when we do polls for people a few decades back we don't exactly outshine then. Take a look at all the polls that have had Santo and/or Blyleven in them and see how many times we have elected them. Granted we were clever enough to pass on Bruce Sutter.

                If we aren't doing any better than the BBWAA ( and we aren't) and we consider ourselves much more informed than the elusive average fan how are we going to find a group of "experts" that will get this right??
                Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                  Granted we were clever enough to pass on Bruce Sutter.
                  We didn't pass on Bruce Sutter. He was elected to the BBFHOF.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                    I think we all lose sight of is that in recent years the BBWAA voting closely mirrors the voting that is done by the BBF electorate. We have no superior wisdom than they have. Even when we do polls for people a few decades back we don't exactly outshine then. Take a look at all the polls that have had Santo and/or Blyleven in them and see how many times we have elected them. Granted we were clever enough to pass on Bruce Sutter.
                    Specific examples would help here. Which polls?
                    Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                      The phrase "average fan" is being bandied about as if we know what that is. If you are talking about the family of four catching a couple games a year then clearly the BBWAA is better than that. And they are certainly better than the corporate types who snap up their company's tickets to the post season games.

                      I think we all lose sight of is that in recent years the BBWAA voting closely mirrors the voting that is done by the BBF electorate. We have no superior wisdom than they have. Even when we do polls for people a few decades back we don't exactly outshine then. Take a look at all the polls that have had Santo and/or Blyleven in them and see how many times we have elected them. Granted we were clever enough to pass on Bruce Sutter.

                      If we aren't doing any better than the BBWAA ( and we aren't) and we consider ourselves much more informed than the elusive average fan how are we going to find a group of "experts" that will get this right??
                      By "average fan" I mean males aged 18-99 who watch, attend or listen to 10 or more games a year, follow their team in the local paper and/or SportsCenter and purchase MLB merchandise or collect baseball paraphernalia of one kind or another. Someone who could name 25 Hall of Famers off the top of their head. In other words, for these kinds of purposes, fairly close to the lowest common denominator.
                      "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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Freakshow View Post
                        Specific examples would help here. Which polls?
                        You would find a number of these over the years. Take a look at the most recent poll for the 2007 election.

                        http://www.baseball-fever.com/showth...ven+santo+poll
                        Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

                        Comment

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