Thursday, January 10, 2013

Comments on this year's (lack of) class

I'm worried about some of the comments made by various pundits on ESPN, Yahoo! and the like.  Since no one was elected this year, many are screaming at the top of their lungs, clamoring for change, claiming the system is broken and needs revision. 

This isn't a new claim - it happened after Bill Mazeroski was elected by the Veterans Committee, an election many view as lowering the standards by which players were chosen after their opportunities on the ballot were extinguished.  After the rules for the Veterans Committee were changed, they failed to elect anyone that would bring crowds to Cooperstown, so the rules were revised again.

Let's review the facts, and make a few assessments:

1.  569 BBWAA members voted. 
2.  Any number of voters above "1" will create the possibility there isn't unanimous agreement.  No matter what various voters, TV personalities, baseball bloggers or morons who idolize every MLB player say, there is going to be disagreements on who belongs, and who doesn't.
3.  That's why there are so many discussions about the election.
4.  When there are less standout players, votes tend to coalesce around them.  When there are more, votes get scattered, making it more difficult for anyone to reach 75%.
5.  Why?  For a few reasons:
  • Writers are limited to selecting a maximum of 10 players a year.  This, I believe, is a good thing, since we live in an era where everyone gets an award for participating in sports, rather than just the winners.  If there are more than 10 players worthy of serious consideration, votes will be split.
  • The "small Hall, big Hall" split.  Whereas Tim Kurkjian will vote for almost one-third of the eligible players per year, others prefer to keep their standards a bit higher.
  • Steroids.
  • Steroids.  Or did I already state that?
  • No clarification on what makes a "Hall of Famer".  I don't have a vote, but I've always subscribed to the "small Hall" theory.
6.  This will change, and the logjam that's been created will dissipate.  Why?
  • Because voters are influenced.  If they didn't get influenced, Bert Blyleven wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, and Jack Morris wouldn't be knocking on the door.
  • Based on this year's votes, some voters who weren't initially influenced to vote for Biggio, or Bagwell, or Piazza will do so.  
  • Next year, a few untainted players become eligible.  Maybe that keeps a few from this year's class from getting elected, but they will get elected.  A democratic process acts slowly, but it usually gets it right.  
However, if no one is elected next year, I can promise you changes will be made...and it won't be for the better.  Cooperstown needs players to be elected, our impatient psyche as a nation needs players to get elected.  

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