This year brought about more controversy than the Baseball Hall of Fame writers had ever seen, and for good reason: all the so-called steroid era players, meaning those who are linked, or suspected, of using performance-enhancing drugs, or even played in the era, have so far been denied entry. This means that the home run king, one of the top three pitchers MLB has ever seen, and the greatest catcher to play the game have all been denied the greatest honor the sport can give. The reason for this: a bunch of sanctimonious old men declared it.
Let’s get one thing straight: I do not support the use of performance-enhancing drugs under any circumstances, not because of the inherent risk to the athletes’ bodies, but because of the risk that a young athlete, or even children, will use them, thus ruining their young bodies because of hero worship, something that may seem unlikely, but likely would have happened had no policies been put in place.
Back to the main point: reforming the voting process. I have long thought that the voting process for both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are flawed, but I thought for a while that Canton had the bigger issues. However, recent years have shown that Cooperstown has a far greater problem, one that predates the arrival of steroid era players on the ballot.
The ballots seem designed to limit the amount of players who can possibly gain admission; the only way for ten players to get admission is for 75% of all voters to put them on, which is an inherent limit based on current protocol. Now, while ten sounds like a lot, and it is, the limits have gone the other way, with fewer and fewer players being voted in by writers.
Here is how you reform the system:
1. Form a committee of individuals from diverse backgrounds: baseball writers, television analysts, retired players, managers, and executives, as well as having representatives who are actively engaged in baseball. Active individuals lose their seats upon retirement, and may not be seated on the committee again for five years. All other members have five-year terms, and may only serve three terms maximum. Consecutive terms are not banned, but are not recommended. The committee shall appoint a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a liaison with the Hall of Fame; these officers shall not be representatives actively engaged in baseball.
2. Voters are divided into four tiers. Each tier is examined by the committee once every four years based on voting tendencies, timing, activity within the baseball-writing world (i.e. you cannot have your vote renewed once you’ve retired), and other factors that relate to the world of baseball. The decision to allow a voter to retain his vote, or to replace him, and find his replacement, shall be determined by a majority vote of the committee.
3. The maximum amount of votes is increased to fifteen, with a minimum of five votes needed to be cast to retain one’s ballot year to year; if one does not put five names on, the ballot must be accompanied by an explanation of why there are four or less votes, and that explanation must be sent to the committee; the committee has the right to deny that voter future voting rights, suspend him for a period of time, or accept the explanation.
4. The percentages will become flexible, similar to the Pro Football Hall of Fame; if a player, manager, or contributor gets more than 70 percent of the vote, they are accepted. If less than five candidates get 70 percent, then the candidates who come closest to 70 percent until five are attained will also be accepted.
Ultimately, we need a system that ensures that good candidates get in, that the voters themselves are reviewed, as opposed to the stagnant group currently in place, and that there is oversight of the system. I recognize that my solution is not perfect, but I feel like it works as an idea. Of course, other people may have other ideas, some of which would work better, and I am cool with that; I would welcome a new system of voting, so long as the current one is done and done.