I’ve read many columns from my colleagues, and was greatly disappointed in those who would not recognize a player on the first ballot, and even worse, those who returned their ballots blank.
As I wrote yesterday, boycotting first timers is an abuse of power. If you truly believe a player merits induction based on his career, then he should be on your ballot the first year.
You can’t legislate whom a voter marks down on his ballot, and history has shown this practice has gone on since the voting began.
It was our own Tom Seaver who appeared on the highest percentage of the ballots when he appeared on 98.84 percent of the ballots cast. In the all-time rankings of the Hall of Fame inductees by percentage: Ty Cobb (4), Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner (tied 11), Willie Mays (14), Ted Williams (18), and Stan Musial (19).
Did you know, Frank Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson and Harmon Killebrew didn’t even receive 90 percent of the vote when they first appeared on a ballot?
Did you know, before the voting rules changed, that Lou Gehrig received only 22.6 percent of the vote?
How could any of these players not appear on a voter’s ballot?
If you’re a voter and believe a player is worthy, he should not be omitted based on his first year of eligibility. Frankly, that is an abuse of your voting privileges.
Then there is the issue of the blank ballot. You’re allotted ten votes. Send your message against the steroid users all you want, but don’t penalize a worthy candidate with a blank ballot because it still counts and it impacts the percentages. I find it impossible out of all the candidates a voter can’t find at least one player worthy.
A blank vote is a vote of arrogance.
There are several voting guidelines, but one should never be to dictate how a member votes. I am disappointed in the first-year and blank ballot voters, but don’t believe they should lose the right to vote based on their God-complex.
What changes would I make in the voting process?
- I would have the Hall of Fame voters identified with their choices. Media members can find out easily enough as to whom the voters chose. I think it should be out front and a condition of the voting.
- Blank ballots should be identified and not count against the percentage of ballots cast. This will eliminate the voter who votes against Barry Bonds and in the fallout penalizes Craig Biggio.
- Identify drug users on their plaques and have their names listed with an asterisk in the record books. Tainted players have tainted records. In my thinking, Hank Aaron and Roger Maris have the career and single-season home run records, not Bonds and McGwire. When I refer to Bonds and McGwire, I’ll say “balls hit over the wall,” and not call them home runs.
Baseball is about numbers and history. Bonds, Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro, not to mention Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, all have careers worthy of induction. We just can’t pretend their careers didn’t exist.
To put a scarlet letter on their careers doesn’t condone their actions, but acknowledges their complete roles in the sport.