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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hall of Fame: how about a deduction for every induction? Stop diluting by adding to the bottom.

Maybe that would make both voting baseball writers and non-voting fans think twice about constantly expanding the list of "immortals" downward.

I've suggested this previously but all the blathering, especially on MLB Network, has made me actually dread today's announcement of the annual voting results.  Brian Kenny on Clubhouse Confidential even interviewed Bill Deane, a Boo Radley type SABR guy, who predicted that only Greg Maddux would be elected.  This is contradicted by a sample of over 100 actual ballots, which suggests the far more plausible expectation that Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, all first time candidates, will be elected.  Craig Biggio may also make it.  I'm hoping that Mike Piazza gets off the writers ineligible list.

Pete Rose is on the baseball ineligible list.  However, no other viable Hall of Fame candidates are on it so the writers may vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, each of whom got more than half the required 75% in last year's vote in their first year of eligibility.  Apparently, the writers have their own secret ineligible list, one which they, as a group, cannot explain.

Back to my suggestion.  Let's deal with the concept, which is that players are not made immortal but that they receive what for many if not most of them will be a temporary recognition: that at one time they were regarded as one of the top (here's where you fill in the blank) players of all time ... or maybe just for their era.

It probably makes sense for a fixed number to be established that can naturally increase over time.  Let's say the top one percent of the 18,000 or so players.  That's 180, a nice manageable number.

Let's say that it is composed of 100 every day players and 80 pitchers.

So for all the knuckleheads who want to induct Tim Raines, Jack Morris, Mike Mussina, blah, blah, blah ... they would have to deduct a like player to make room.

For Jack Morris and Mike Mussina that would be a post World War II starting pitcher.  How about Don Sutton?  Or Catfish Hunter?  Don Drysdale?  How strongly do you feel about Morris or Mussina that you would deduct someone?

What corner outfielder goes to permit entry to Raines?  Certainly not Hank Aaron.  Jim Rice?  But he just got in.  Al Kaline?  Probably not.  Roberto Clemente?  Nah.  He died heroically.  Ted Williams?  That would be nuts.  Ah, Ricky Henderson.  No, Raines is Ricky Lite.  I'm sure the advocates of Raines can come up with somebody.

We could apply the same to the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.  You know, the one in which the writers since 1962 designate each other a de jure Hall of Famer.  You've seen them introduced on TV as Hall of Famer ...  What if we freeze their number at 50 and next year when they vote they would also have to vote for someone to be removed?  That would make them squirm.  On December 10, 2013 they voted the 2014 Spink award to Roger Angell.  And to their complete and utter disgrace in 2013 when they failed to vote in Bonds, Clemens or any other player they still went ahead and awarded Spink recognition to Paul Hagen.  I had never heard of Hagen but making that award concurrent with their complete abdication of their other responsibility was completely unacceptable.

For the Hall of Fame player voting a deduction would require 75% of the vote, same as for induction.  Let's say some writers want to replace Hunter with Mussina.  They would need to convince the other writers not only that Mussina was worthy but also that he was better than Hunter.

This is a good test for any system.  Who is he better than?  Too often the writers are adding to the bottom.  This guy is almost as good as another guy who barely has the credentials.  To be elected a player should always be better than some like player already in, no matter whether an actual deduction occurs.  Stop diluting by adding to the bottom.

Since the writers get to judge the players it seems only fair that the players judge the writers.  How about the players vote for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award?

Or maybe we should have likes vote for likes.  The writers can continue to vote for each other and the players vote for other players.  Players have voted on the veterans committee and not done too well but that should improve if all former players get a vote.  Or maybe not.

There's no good way to do this.  We could expand and have different groups vote and then merge that into a final decision.  For voting on players for the Hall of Fame:
- writers
- play by play announcers
- fans
- former players.

At least it would spread the credit ... and blame.

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