Should baseball writers vote for the Hall of Fame? Buster Olney and Jeff Pearlman say no, and I think they are on to something.
Most of us writers weren’t exactly the cool kids in school. We stunk at sports, failed at dating and rarely — if ever — got invited to the good parties. While our peers were making out with the cheerleaders, we were debating among ourselves whether the Yankees were wise to have traded Jerry Mumphrey to Houston for Omar Moreno (And I don’t care what Chris Katechis said — it was a horrible deal). Point is, even the eternally powerless crave power. In the world of baseball, few wands wield greater oomph than that of the BBWAA Hall vote.
And yet, after spending so many of my years itching to earn that elusive BBWAA Gold Card status, I can honestly say that I would rather work as Bieber’s “swagger coach” (frighteningly, he has one) than cast a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And then there is this from Olney (to read the entire story you have to subscribe to ESPN insider):
First and foremost, it’s a clear conflict of interest. As a writer, I should be reporting on the news and not making it. It’s Journalism 101 (I assume, since I was a history major). It’s not my place, as a reporter, to determine whether Andre Dawson is inducted into the Hall of Fame, no more than it would be for a Capitol Hill reporter to cast a vote on health-care legislation while reporting on it.
…The most important reason why the writers should not be voting is that it has become increasingly evident that the voters, as a group, don’t really have a clear understanding of what the standards for the Hall of Fame are, particularly in this time, as the ballot gains more and more players touched by the steroids issue.
Some (not many) don’t vote for any candidate in their first year on the ballot, although the rules say they can. Some don’t vote for candidates because they didn’t like them personally, or because they
didn’t like how they played.
…The Hall of Fame should form its own committee that determines who gets a plaque. The plaques should include information, written in neutral language, about feats and achievements, and about bans and
suspensions and admissions.
Olney concludes that the process is not likely to change because of the heated debates that the Hall of Fame voting stirs every year. And really, when do you ever hear the same kind of enthusiasm about the Football or Basketball Hall of Fame? Heck, I enjoy arguing about the Hall even if I know it is an excercise in the absurd.
I guess we need the eggs.