Tuesday marked the ninth time no players were selected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame since the first class was inducted back in 1936. The BBWAA also set a record with 14 blank ballots because of the controversial Curt Schilling and steroid tied candidates.
Baseball is the only Hall of Fame among the four major sports where only the writers are the judge, the jury, and the executioner. This flawed process allowed writers with bruised or exacerbated egos to severely damage the voting process’s integrity.
Here is the complete 2021 BBWAA Hall of Fame vote: pic.twitter.com/oA73SLQ6NE
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 26, 2021
Election rules state, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” Some voters stick to the rules provided while others insert “did I like him?” to the end of that sentence. This year’s fiasco heightens the need for change in the selection process.
By no means is this a rebellion against the writers, considering that I fall into the same category. The issue is that people who never spent a day playing, coaching, or working in the front office of a Major League Baseball team hold the fate of all-time great players in their pens.
Enlist a Committee
It is not a matter of kicking writers off the vote; it is about bringing in the perspective of people who had to play and manage against the considered players. Committees already exist for separate eras, but it should encompass the entire Hall of Fame. The other three major sports use a committee filled with writers, executives, Hall of Famers, and other experts in their respective sports.
Earning a spot on these committees is a thorough process and eliminated the current situation in baseball. Plenty of current voters do not deserve their vote, and plenty of former players have different opinions that would allow deserving players to get their moment in Cooperstown.
Holding a vote from Schilling is reasonable due to his support for a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol. There are plenty of gray areas for the rest of the ballot. It has been a struggle for “steroid era” players to enter the Hall even though MLB did not implement PED testing until 2004.
Bud Selig was the commissioner during this era and did next to nothing to solve the problem quickly. Selig got his day in Cooperstown, while the players who kept baseball alive might not get theirs. During Selig’s era, taking steroids was as normal as drinking Gatorade in between innings. Even players who did not have the special talents of the potential Hall of Famers were juicing.
It is impossible to describe baseball’s past without these names in the Hall of Fame. When they are enshrined, the steroid conversation does not fade away. It will never be engraved on their plaques, but it will always be attached to their names. Post-2004 abusers like Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano deserve to miss out on enshrinement. They tested positive in an era where mainstream cheating comes in the form of technology.
Players See The Game Differently
Most players and managers would tell you Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens belong in the Hall. If you are against steroid users, ask about Billy Wagner or Jeff Kent; you would get the same results. Instead, all four of them, along with much more, are polling at numbers that will keep them out for the rest of their time on the ballot.
There are plenty of great media members who deserve to keep their vote, but others have egos as large as the players they despise. Some voters are not even covering the sport at the moment. Replacing media members with other baseball voices will bring back lost integrity from the most historic and illustrious sports Hall of Fame.