Critiquing the Hall of Fame

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For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not vote in any Major League Baseball players eligible for the Hall of Fame. With players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mike Piazza on the ballot still none received the seventy-five percent of votes necessary to be idolized in Cooperstown.

This ballot makes some major history. Since 1961, there had been only two years that no player made the cut. In 1971, Yogi Berra fell eight percent short. And in ’96 Phil Niekro came the closest missing the mark by seven percent. Now we can add 2013 to the list. Just as in 1996 where big names like Niekro, Don Sutton, Tommy John, and Bobby Bonds did not gather enough votes there many notables that came up short this season.

Big-hitters like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Jeff Bagwell remain on the oustide looking in. And hurlers like Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Don Mattingly also must wait another year.

Just step back and take a look at those names. Which one of these things is not like the other? With regards to Bagwell and Mattingly, these players have been associated with the use of performance enhancing drugs and steroids. Are the voters of the BBWAA taking a strong stand against the Steroid Era? Do they feel these players would not have had the careers they had without steroids? Or do they just feel these players made a choice for HOF or a couple years of standout stats? Regardless of their reasoning, they have made quite a statement. There were four fewer votes than last year and five of the votes were blank ballots. To me, the writers are boycotting the Hall of Fame ballots. But doesn’t that hurt players like Bagwell, Mattingly, and Craig Biggio (who led all vote-getters with 68.2% of the vote)? Yes, it hurts them. They just lost another year of eligibility to prove a point to the steroid era. How many more years are deserving players going to suffer? I am not supporting the use of steroids of PEDs, but those aren’t the only candidates.

Another thing that puts the players at a disadvantage is the lofty percentage of votes it takes to make it in the Hall of Fame. Doesn’t seventy-five percent seem a little high? Majority vote is 50.1% and most laws only need a two-thirds (66.6%) vote to be passed. Speaking based on percentages it is more difficult to make it to Cooperstown than to get into the White House. President Obama only needed fifty-three percent of the vote to be elected into office. Setting it to a two-thirds vote seems logical and still makes the Hall of Fame quite an honor. Some may say that lowering the percentage would mean all of the players before that time who reached the mark should be grandfathered into the Hall. Or they may say that the seventy-five percent vote ensures the exclusivity of being on the ballot. Those are both great points but ultimately it is up to the writers to change the procedure, especially if they don’t plan on voting for anybody who used supplements to enhance their performance.

My gut feeling is that baseball is built on such a tradition that nothing will change and the writers will eventually realize they proved their point and they will gradually get past the steroid era.  The right players will still be immortalized.

Who was snubbed this year? Will the steroid era players ever make the Hall of Fame? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.

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