Without druggies, Baseball Hall of Fame loses credibility

AP file photo.
This afternoon, the Baseball Writers of America will announce the 2015 class for the Baseball Hall of Fame. The juiced-up stars — Bonds, Clemens, McGwire — will not be among them.

And that’s a good enough reason to scrap Cooperstown, The Week’s John Terbush writes today. Without the stars of the ’80s and ’90s — performance-enhancing drugs or not — the Hall lacks credibility, he says.

The voting body is a bloated mess of nearly 600 members, some of whom haven’t covered baseball in years. (To wit, here’s a golf website explaining the ballot of one of its three eligible voters last year.) Then there are the crackpots who think “gut feeling” trumps research, the usual suspects who phone the whole thing in, and, of course, the shrill nutjobs who treat the ballot as an excuse to troll basement-dwelling nerds.

The voting process cannot be fixed without gutting that body, and that’s just not going to happen. Consider that one of the most popular proposals for reforming the vote is to simply increase the number of selections each candidate can make on his or her ballot. It’s a good idea in theory, especially considering the backlog of sterling candidates newly eligible for induction with even more no-doubters on the horizon. Yet last year, with one of the most stacked ballots ever, only half of voters burned all their votes. Dropping ballot limits would buoy some candidates, but it’s no panacea.

True, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in December approved a resolution recommending the ballot limit increase from 10 to 12. But that’s nothing more than a Band-Aid — and a non-binding one at that — that won’t fly with Hall of Fame officials who have no desire to act on anything that could erode the institution’s exclusivity.

“What’s the point of a Hall of Fame that schemes against its own mission by trying to eradicate a decade of its past?” he writes. “And what’s the point of a baseball institution that refuses to acknowledge arguably the greatest hitter and pitcher who ever played the game?”

Meanwhile, Mike Beradino of the Pioneer Press — you may remember him from the infamous news conference in which he asked Torii Hunter questions about same-sex marriage — submitted his ballot, leaving Randy Johnson off the entire list. He acknowledges, however, that Johnson is deserving of entering the Hall of Fame. This tells you everything that’s wrong with the Baseball Hall of Fame. Baseball writers.

Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines and John Smoltz elected on ESPN's 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot (ESPN).

Baseball’s broken Hall of Fame process may deny stars like Mark McGwire for good with forthcoming results (Washington Post).

  • I agree! The Hall is becoming more about the voters than the players.

  • MikeB

    It is becoming more and more a popularity contest, about how the writers “feel” about a candidate rather than voting by the merits. MLB benefited by PEDs, even before steroids. I don’t see any refunds being offered to those who bought tickets.

    Keep the known gamblers out. Vote others based on their numbers in the era they played.

  • Dave

    We need to decide (or re-decide) what is the purpose of the Hall. Is it just about statistics? If so, then cheaters and liars such as Bonds and Clemens should never be allowed membership. Why should men who did so much to damage the game’s reputation be inducted into its hall of fame? (I can guarantee you that Bud Selig is hoping to be inducted someday.)

    But then you could also imagine that the HOF should be more inclusive, and be more about the history or “fabric” of the game. If that’s the case, then Bonds and Clemens should be there, since they made such an enormous impact. Rose should be there too.

    Maybe the HOF needs a congress of some sort, not just gatekeepers composed of journalists. Then again, a camel is what you get when a committee designs a horse.

  • Gary F

    Yep. But still on my places to visit. Going to Spring Training for the first time ever this year. Cooperstown still on my list.

  • David

    I am a very big baseball fan. Not quite nerd in the basement level, but more than average. This is one of the reasons why I will notice who gets elected (its hard to avoid the headlines), but won’t put much more thought or consideration to it. I won’t read the thousands of words dedicated to the ballots and the whys. I just cannot bring myself to care if the writers/cartoonists/etc won’t care.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    Personally I believe Bonds and Clemens will get in. If he were reinstated I think Rose would get in on the first try. I think Clemens vote total will go up this year and here’s my opinion why.

    For both Clemens and Bonds I think they need to be “not the first” of their generation to get in. With Maddox and Glavine getting in last year and the likelihood of Johnson, Martinez and possibly Smoltz getting in this year. It now becomes safer for voters to elect Clemens. In the case of Bonds I think Ken Griffey, Jr. has to be voted in first. With Frank Thomas going in last year, once Griffey is in then I think it will become “safer” to vote for Bonds. Neither will receive more than 90% of the vote as they would without the “taint” but I believe each will be in before their name comes off the ballot.