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Three steps toward fixing the HOF voting

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In the aftermath of the HOF voting today, a lot has been written about how broken the voting system is, to the point where some even suggest voting should be turned over to the fans.

I posted the following in the comment section of the "Jacque Jones" forum thread, but then realized it got to "blog post length," so I'm re-posting it as such.

I think fan voting is a lousy idea. I don't think anyone wants to hold up the AllStar Game voting process as one to replicate.

I think the following, relatively simple changes could go a long way toward fixing most of the problems:

1. Allow electronic media writers to gain membership in the BBWAA. "Print journalists" are just as much "electronic media" writers as those who they are excluding from their little club. To maintain an antiquated belief that they are somehow more knowledgeable than those writers who don't happen to have their work printed in ink on paper is absurd. How many organizations do you know who go to such lengths to keep new people out of their group? And if the BBWAA won't do this, the HOF should set up their own voter eligibility criteria, apart from BBWAA membership, where knowledgeable writers of print and electronic media outlets are included.

I would not include independent, self-employed electronic media among eligible those eligible to vote. The common blogger shouldn't have a vote no matter how long s/he has been blogging. I don't think it's unreasonable to require that an employer of some kind feels your work covering baseball is of sufficient value to pay you to do it on a regular basis in order to be considered for voting privileges.

2. The 10 year requirement for voter eligibility is fine. But balance that out by having voting privileges end once a writer has gone some period without being employed in a job that requires a significant about of baseball coverage. There is no reason at all that HOF voting should be a lifetime right. I understand that you want some voters who actually saw much, if not all, of the players careers that are on the ballot. A rule of thumb might be, once you've NOT been writing about baseball for as long as you DID write about baseball, your voting credentials are of questionable value.

3. The identities of eligible voters and their ballots are made public, as are the names of eligible voters who did not cast a ballot. Nobody can force anyone to defend their ballot choices, but the need for a "secret ballot" has long been overcome by a need for transparency. Voters hiding behind anonymity so they can stick it to players they don't like or make a "statement" with their ballot is a practice that should no longer be tolerated.

Many voters allow the BBWAA to make their ballots public. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those ballots are at least defensible. The goofball ballots often seem to come from writers who do not give permission to BBWAA to make their ballots public. I doubt that's a coincidence.

That's it. End the silliness about having voting be the exclusive privilege of "print journalists," limit tenure of voters to a period equal to twice the years they actually held paid positions covering baseball that got them their voting privileges in the first place, and make public all votes (and lack thereof).

Notice I didn't suggest allowing voters to list more than 10 players on their ballot nor that the HOF come up with standards for PED user votes. I see those arguments as being BBWAA voters wanting a convenient way to fix a problem they have caused themselves. Fix the these three things and the other stuff will take care of itself eventually.
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  1. Thrylos's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Jim Crikket

    I think fan voting is a lousy idea.
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    I would not include independent, self-employed electronic media among eligible those eligible to vote. The common blogger shouldn't have a vote no matter how long s/he has been blogging. I don't think it's unreasonable to require that an employer of some kind feels your work covering baseball is of sufficient value to pay you to do it on a regular basis in order to be considered for voting privileges.
    Couple of interesting facts against those 2 points:

    a. The Fans vote (the Deadspin vote) with the 75% cut off, would have gotten who the writers got in plus Biggio and Piazza. Not Mattingly, not Gagne. I'd argue that there are a lot of people who wonder why Biggio and Piazza were not elected today

    b. We all know the BBWAA. There is a little group called the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance; full disclosure: I am part of it) of independent baseball bloggers who every year they vote for the HOF. Here is this year's vote (with a bit of info about previous votes.) Guess what? They voted in exactly who the writers voted in.

    That 75% cut-off is very powerful and it is a good check and balance...
  2. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    The BBWAA is adding electronic media writers, but it's going to be another decade before we see any number of those guys voting for the HOF. Be patient. The BBWAA is getting smarter, it's just going slow.
  3. Jim Crikket's Avatar
    Thry, I responded to your comment in the other thread before I saw it here. Sorry. In summary, I don't think the Deadspin experience can be counted on to be a reflection of a full-blown public vote and I don't see a problem with continuing to entrust professional journalists with the voting privileges if there's a bit of tweaking with voting privileges and rules.

    Paul, I didn't realize that. I'm glad. I just recall reading about some electronic media folks being rejected for BBWAA membership last year and assumed (which I should not do) that the doors had not been thrown very widely open. I don't have a problem with the 10 year wait. When you consider a player has to be retired 5 years to get on the ballot, the 10 year wait simply assures that any voter would have been covering the game during at least the last 5 years of the career for players that are added to the ballot. That's not perfect, but it's reasonable IMO.
  4. beckmt's Avatar
    I think for pitchers, it is tough. For writers who have never seen the player, I would guess a number do not do the research. Factor in the ballparks they played in, if a number of runs where given up when they were pitching in blowouts and just getting the game over(etc), how they pitched in big games. These are some the underlying factors that many writers do not take into consideration.
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