The Yankees have the most players in the Baseball Hall of Fame (24). So there’s no argument that they are victims of the past. But this year’s balloting raises profound questions and concerns about the process MLB is employing to select who gets in and who doesn’t. Several Yankees have become victimized in recent years. Change is needed, but will it be forthcoming?
When former Yankees David Cone and Jorge Posada don’t even make it past the first ballot, causing them disqualification from future consideration, there’s something obviously wrong with the process. A process that needs to be fixed before things get even more embarrassing for baseball.
Neither player is a shoo-in for election to the Hall of Fame. They’re borderline candidates who join the long list of others like Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Larry Walker, and Edgar Martinez who had good, but not necessarily great careers. And it’s understandable that a considerable amount of time elapses before they either run out of time, as Morris has, or they eventually get in.
Having said that, though, how can it be explained that one newspaper, the New York Post, has thirteen writers who are eligible to vote. Thirteen! And I suppose we are to assume that each of them writes about baseball for the Post on a daily basis and religiously follows the game by keeping up with the sport. I seriously doubt that. In fact, I know it because I read the paper every day.
Hey BBWAA, Have You Heard? Newspaper Writers Are A Dying Breed
And therein lies the biggest problem with the process today. Newspapers are a dying breed in America, and they have been for some time now. Baseball like virtually everything now is all about the internet. Yanks Go Yard, Bleacher Report and MLB.com, are all examples of a continuing trend in how the game is reported today. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many of these types of writers are members of the BBWAA?
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The BBWAA will tell us that they do weed out writers from time to time. Sure, they do – when they die. And they’ll make a big deal telling us how they removed the one writer who turned in a blank ballot this year as a protest, and in doing so, he hurt everyone on the ballot because his non-vote counted in the overall percentages shown in the results, as a no.
The system can’t be perfect. But it has to be better than it is. And while it’s true that most writers take the responsibility granted to them as a privilege, filling out their ballot with diligence and a high level of knowledge, many others sleep-walk their way through the process, or even worse; they engage in a game of following the leader amongst their peers.
The BBWAA is not a fraternity, nor is it a club. It is an organization that has been given a gift by Major League Baseball to perform a task that many of us can only dream of doing. And as we know, what MLB hath given, MLB can taketh away.
Yankees Fans United: The Chances For Reform
But as we know from other things, unless you have a replacement for a system in place, there is no real way of bringing about reform without at least the actual threat of upending (the BBWAA) with an alternative replacement process. MLB, blogs like this one, sportscasters, and even some brave newspaper reporters can, and probably will, lobby hard for the organization to clean their messy house.
And we can ask them to poll their members asking how it is possible that only seventeen writers saw fit to list Jorge Posada on their ballot this year. For God’s sake, that only a few more votes than the hometown newspaper (the Post) has at its disposal. We can ask, but will the message get through? Because they know, much like the gun lobby, that if they wait it out, the issue will go away.
The trouble is that stories like this one have an attention span of about two seconds in the 24/7 news cycle we see today. But somehow, we need to keep the drum beating on this one because, in the final analysis, the integrity not only of the Hall Of Fame but for the game of baseball as well, is at stake. And that, my friends, is not an overstatement.