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.