Posted By Jeff Fletcher on January 12, 2009 3:58 pm
A couple of my loyal readers — you can have loyal readers after one week, right? — had some questions about Hall of Fame voting in response to this post. Rather than just burying my answers amid the comments, I figured I’d answer them here, since they are likely to be of interest to everyone.
One question about the Hall voting — do writers get lifetime voting rights? How in the world did that guy who writes for the Arizona retirement community newsletter (who didn’t vote for Rickey) still have a vote? Seems if baseball wanted to maintain some credibility, they’d make some new writers at places like the Hardball Times eligible. At least they wouldn’t vote for Matt Williams of Jay Freakin Bell. For all of baseball’s talk about maintaining the integrity of the game, that seems a little ridiculous. — Murph
Murph, once someone has been a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America for 10 consecutive years, he can pretty much keep his vote as long as he wants. Even if someone is no longer active, he can get a lifetime “gold card” and maintain his vote. I only know of one person who gave up his vote: Dave Newhouse of the Oakland Tribune. He was so fed up with the whole steroids controversy that he said he no longer wanted to be a part of the BBWAA or the Hall of Fame voting process.
As far as I know, the HOF folks are free to add people to the voting process (like broadcasters, retired players, bloggers, etc.) at their discretion. It’s a misconception that baseball writers actively exclude those who aren’t in our little club. People at the HOF decide who votes for the HOF, not the writers. At the moment, they’ve decided it’s us. So direct your complaints to them if you want Vin Scully to get a vote.
I’m curious about something you wrote in regard to voting for Blyleven. What is the thought process behind not voting for a guy who’s been retired for more than a decade one year, but voting for him the next. I’m not just talking about Blyleven (who, if Don Sutton has a bust, definitely deserves one too), but any of these guys who seem to pick up steam as their eligibility wanes. I guess I could see how Rice’s accomplishments seem more impressive because of how his numbers seem better when considering the fact that he played in a pre-steroids era, but this happens all the time. Your thoughts? — Jeremiah
What, we’re not allowed to change our minds? It’s simple as that. As long as the HOF is going to ask you to make a decision on each guy each year, you owe it to the process to make a decision each year, not to simply say: “I voted for him last year, so I have to vote for him this year.” People study the game and learn new things, so they have to incorporate new knowledge in their decision.
Now, if the HOF changed the process and said you only get one shot at the ballot, I wouldn’t have a problem with that either. That would eliminate all the silliness about people refusing to vote for someone on principle the first time he was on the ballot.