Baseball Hall Does it Right
The game can be so slow that I want to switch over to C-Span for some excitement. The rules change only about as often as Haley’s Comet sweeps through the sky but there is something about the game of baseball that I do admire. The way baseball votes on their Hall of Fame is the way all sports should do it. It’s an exclusive club that allows only the very elite to enter. Unlike the other major professional sports, major league baseball has no minimum number of entrants into their Hall of Fame each year. That means that some years, no one is elected. Every candidate goes through the same rigorous filter and has to earn 75% of the votes to get in. Not 74.9%, but at least 75%. Last year Craig Biggio was just 2 votes (out of over 500) short of the magic percentage but wasn’t allowed in.
That makes this year’s Hall of Fame class extremely unique. Four players earned passage to Cooperstown; Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Biggio, that’s the most to enter in a single year since 1955. I love that baseball keeps their Hall limited to only the best of the best. The down side of the way baseball votes for their Hall of Fame inductees is that it’s done by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Why major league baseball allows just baseball writers to pick their Hall of Fame baffles me. Wouldn’t you think that is an awful lot of power to hand over to a bunch of beer bellied bald guys with bad teeth? Maybe I’m being a bit harsh of those guys, some actually have a decent head of hair…although it hasn’t been combed since Tom Seaver’s induction.
Why hasn’t someone in the Major League Baseball office suggested that they, the league themselves, have some say in who goes into their Hall? I mean, it is their game, they would seem to have some knowledge of who the best players are. To leave it up to writers seems insane to me. At the very least do as most leagues do, and combine the media along with the league and maybe fans. I’m not going to lie, it also has always irritated me that it’s just writers, not broadcasters or other media. Don’t you think Vin Scully and Eric Nadel should have as much input as a guy who writes for the Omaha Free Press? It’s archaic, which is pretty much what I think of the game in general.
So even though I don’t agree with the methodology, when you walk through the shrine in Cooperstown it’s amazing just how few players are in there. If you’re Johnson or Martinez or Biggio or Smoltz or any of the others enshrined, you know you’re the Navy Seal of sports. Not just a really good player, not just a guy who put together 5 or 6 great seasons but someone who played at the highest level for an entire career.
It also has to be noted that another year went by in the Hall of Fame voting without Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa coming close to getting elected. Maybe the ultimate prize in baseball now isn’t making it to the Hall of Fame but rather signing a $100 million dollar contract. If so, those four players and many more coming down the road will sit back in their 12 bedroom mansions and not shed a tear for their omission. The rest of us won’t give a damn either…I like that.