Cleat Geeks

Hall Of Fame Rule 10

Today is the day in which the Baseball Writers Association of America or BBWAA for short,  will announce who will be enshrined in the 2015 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are several things wrong with the process, as I guess there are things wrong with every process especially those processes where there are 571 people voting on the same thing. One of the major things that is wrong with the process is Rule 10. Rule 10 limits the BBWAA voters to only selecting 10 names on their ballots for any given year.

Rule 10 was established in 1936. In 1936 baseball was quite different than the game we know today. In 1936 baseball had 16 Major League teams; today there are 30 Major League teams. In 1936 there had been 32 World Series played, in 2014 we just finished the 110th edition of the Fall Classic. But, to truly give you an idea of how much the game has changed since this rule was instituted and has never been changed, take this into consideration. In 1936, people of color were not even welcomed into the game. Yes, only white people played America’s past time in 1936. Today, not only are people of color welcomed in the game of baseball but people of every country are welcomed into the sport of baseball with open arms.

The class of 2015 has 34 people on the ballot, and I believe that all the BBWAA voters would tell you that selecting only 10 names means that they are doing baseball a disservice. The voters are then put into difficult decisions; such as voting for the 10 best players, or voting for the 8 best players and 2 players that they want to see hang onto the ballot for a couple more years in hopes that they can then gain some momentum and eventually be elected into the Hall.

How can baseball say that no matter how many players are on the ballot, and no matter what their qualifications are that only 10 of them are worthy of Hall of Fame enshrinement. The answer is they can’t. Therefore, they should change the rule. But, how should they change the rule? If we bump the number up to 12 or 15, we honestly did not fix the problem, all we did was use the same flawed logic, just increasing the number.

Derrick Goold, who writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had an interesting take on the subject recently. He suggested that you allow the BBWAA to simply select yes or no for all the players on the ballot. But, in my opinion, there is a problem with only having two choices, people make the wrong choice. People give people the benefit of the doubt, and not that that is wrong necessarily, but it would then compromise the integrity and the merit of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The bronze plaques in the Hall of Fame would be hung on the wall with dust on them already, and therefore would never shine like they should.

To give the readers an example of what I mean, take this into consideration. The last time we saw 4 players elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame was 1955. The 4 players elected were DiMaggio, Hartnett, Lyons, and Vance. And let me ask you readers, how many of those names do you know and can tell me anything about? I bring this up because back in 1955 the voting rules for the Baseball Hall of Fame were different. In 1955 you had to vote for 10 players, and because of those rules, as I stated before people tend to make wrong decisions. In this case I believe that because you had to vote for 10 players, and there may not have been 10 players whose credentials made them eligible. Players we have never heard before are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And just as a side note, only in the first election in 1936 have there ever been 5 players inducted, which is the most of any class.

So, in a historic perspective, the BBWAA since 1936 have averaged 2 inductees per year. 5 in the first year, and 4 twice in 1947 and 1955. But, what most people do not realize is that we were only 2 votes from doing that again in the 2014 ballot results. In 2014 Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas were elected and Craig Biggio missed being elected by only 2 votes. This points to a log jam of current deserving players on the ballot. In fact, on the 2014 ballot 6 players received over 50% of the votes from the 571 voting members.

Personally, I am torn on this subject. And I realize that I am going to be somewhat selfish and self-centered when I tell my readers why. I want the number of possible players you can vote on increased so that players, whose stats say they deserve, can be properly enshrined. Not those people who cheated by using performance enhancing drugs to be enshrined whatsoever. But, I fear that if we change the rules to allow more players into the Hall of Fame it will be tainted with cheaters, and not with people who deserve induction.

My solution is completely different than anything I have ever heard or read. I would separate the first year inductees with the hold overs. I would allow the voters to vote for half of the first year inductees and would allow the voters to vote for up to 10 of the hold over players on the ballot. The key 2 words are up to. No minimum, no maximum numbers that you have to reach. As an example, let’s use this year’s ballot. There are 17 first time players on the ballot, so you can vote for up to 9 of them. This year there are also 17 returning players so you could vote for up to 9 of them as well. But, you could also only vote for a few of each, you do not have to vote for a maximum number. I believe this is the only fair way to do it, while also allowing for great men with great numbers to not be buried by the fresh crop of new players who become eligible each year.

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