Baseball’s HOF Voting Is FUBAR

In case you're wondering, the answer is yes. The BBWAA did create their own logo on MS Paint.

If you don’t know what ‘FUBAR’ means, Google it. I refuse to type one of the words that comprises the acronym, so you’ll just have to do your own research. See. There is a certain level of class here at Seattle Sportsnet.

Anyways, if you do know what FUBAR means, then you’ll probably agree that baseball’s Hall of Fame voting procedure is exactly that. It’s broke as a joke, and we can thank the BBWAA for ruining it.

The BBWAA stands for the Baseball Writers Association of America. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Baseball’ is one word. Hence, it should be BWAA. And yet we let these people vote.

In all seriousness, the BBWAA is a group of esteemed sportswriters with impressive credentials that spend the better part of their journalistic down time covering baseball. While the BBWAA as a whole maintains a reputation of, shall we say, holier-than-thou proportions, there are a few great baseball writers out there who we can all instill faith in when it comes to Hall of Fame voting (Larry Stone, of The Seattle Times, is a perfect example).

However, some of these writers simply have no business casting a vote for, well, anything.

Once granted membership to the BBWAA, the only way one leaves the group is by dying. Seriously. As long as you’re a living member of the club, you get to cast your Hall of Fame vote each year. Which means some of these guys could be sitting around in a near-vegetable state, but still have the honor of deciding whether Edgar Martinez is in or out.

I’m not trying to say that we should take away the power bestowed upon these individuals who have clearly paid their dues in the industry. I’m merely suggesting that we alter the way the balloting is carried out.

As of right now, the only people allowed to cast votes for the Hall of Fame are members of the BBWAA. Conflict of interest, anyone?

These guys spend their careers in locker rooms and press boxes, essentially shadowing the players who they are tasked with objectively deciding the fate of. When it comes time to vote for the enshrinement of these players in Cooperstown, one would hope that these writers would put their personal feelings aside and do right by the fans, who only want to see their idols in the Hall.

But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Not only do members of the BBWAA put their own agendas ahead of doing the right thing, many of them publicly air their dirty laundry for all the world to see. They tell stories of run-ins with certain players, cite make-believe stats (like how one candidate is more deserving than the other simply because he played on a different playing surface), and generally insult the intelligence of the game’s fans in the process.

Ironically, we demand journalistic objectivity of these writers for years, and yet when it comes to casting their ballot for the Hall of Fame, these ethically-concerned individuals do a complete about-face.

Why bestow the entire responsibility of voting unto the BBWAA, anyways?

What makes them better or more privy than, say, the players who actually participated in the sport?

Why don’t coaches and managers get a say?

And how about the fans? The people who fund this game, who buy the merchandise, who pay ALL of these people’s salaries, writers included. Why don’t they get a vote?

The BBWAA may be a flawed bunch, but we all have our blemishes. There is no reason to remove the voting privileges of these writers, but there is just cause to spread the privileges around a bit.

Allow the BBWAA to be a part of the voting process, not the whole thing.

Similarly, give the fans, coaches, and players some credit and let them have a say, as well.

Democracy has shown us that the balance of power makes for a fantastic system of government. And yet baseball’s Hall of Fame — the mecca of America’s National Pastime — insists upon a dictatorship, ruled by the BBWAA, in sealing the fates of the game’s greats.

That just doesn’t seem right at all.

6 thoughts on “Baseball’s HOF Voting Is FUBAR”

  1. Without voicing my opinion on the above comment, I’m just gonna say that you should really put your name down if you call someone out. Leaving it blank is the equivalent of stabbing someone in the back.

    Some of the better comments on this site are left anonymous, and it shouldn’t be that way. You don’t have to fill out the email/website portion of the comment box, but you can always put your name down.

    Just sayin.

  2. My biggest qualm with the Baseball HOF is that over time the nonsense of a first-ballot HOFer came into existence. Either someone deserves to be in the hall or not. Someone shouldn’t be denied entrance on the “golden” first ballot but then let in on subsequent ballots because then enough time has passed to allow them to finally enter the hall with their tail between their legs.

    I love Bill Simmons’ idea of a pyramid within the hall of fame (he focuses on the NBA) to show where someone falls in significance. Basically, in this version, someone is admitted as a HOFer and then classified into a level based on their achievements. For baseball, you would arguable put Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, etc. into the top level and guys like Andre Dawson in the bottom. There could even be a section of unmentionables such as Rose, McGwire, and Bonds, who should be in the hall of fame regardless of what you think of them.

  3. This is ridiculous. Coaches and players should not get to vote because they only see a small percentage of the actual players out there. Until interleague play came along, a person who spent their career in the National League may NEVER have seen someone in the American League play. The current iteration of interleague play does not really solve that problem either. Additionally, there are plenty of examples of coaches blindly supporting their players. If this was not the case, Mark McGuire would not currently have a job in St. Louis.

    Fans should definitely not get to vote. If they did, the Hall of Fame would become a popularity contest, just like the All Star Game. All future inductees to the Hall would be Yankees just out of sheer numbers. Your average fan also has no appreciation of some of the more nuanced elements of the game and can’t really make an informed opinion.

    Of course the writers are a flawed group. But I don’t think the fact that they have to “shadow” players makes them a bad judge. In fact, I would argue it gives them a unique perspective. Of course each market has its own set of writers with voting privileges that may demonstrate bias towards their local players. My home market, which is a small market that shall remain unnamed, currently has approximately 7 voting members. Since news coverage of this market is similar to most markets (two major newspapers, one very old smaller paper, and a few journalist retirees), I would assume that number is the same between all of them. So, the “local advantage” is balanced out.

    I challenge you to come up with a more objective group of people to do Hall of Fame voting.

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