Barry Larkin’s election to the Hall of Fame has caused a stir of emotion in Redlegs Nation. There has been much discussion recently about the induction of Larkin, but also about Pete Rose, Cooperstown and the balloting process in general. I discussed the specific issue of Pete Rose recently, but didn’t delve into the Cooperstown process much. Steve Engbloom discussed Murray Chass and the induction process on yesterday’s BRM Podcast and created a poll asking readers to vote on the current method of selection. At last glance, the polling results strongly favored a change to this method. For the record, I voted for a change.
In many ways, it becomes clear that everything in baseball is connected. You wouldn’t think you could find six degrees of separation between Barry Larkin and Murray Chass, but you can, and you can’t discuss the Hall of Fame without eventually shifting to the topic of baseball writers. I won’t even get started on my personal views of this process or the people that have corrupted it. I will however offer my idea for a fix. I also realize this will never happen.
I think the Hall of Fame vote should be divided through a weighted system. Current and former players, coaches and front office executives should comprise 40% of the vote because they are the bulk of the contingent that has first hand experience in the game. By doing it this way, the inductees are being judged primarily by their peers and by the people who knew them best or knew best of their legacy.
An additional 30% should be split between “baseball media professionals” — a term I am coining to describe all forms of media, not just mainstream print news — This would include selected print media writers, selected bloggers, other internet media professionals and television and radio personalities. This contingent would make up 30% of the total vote.
Unfortunately, this is where the issue gets sticky, and this is the genesis of the problem. Any overhaul of the Hall of Fame balloting process would not be complete if it didn’t also overhaul the process by which non-traditional media resources are judged to be legitimate. This is where the two conversations cross paths and this is why it becomes impossible to discuss Barry Larkin and Cooperstown without inevitably circling back to Murray Chass.
Another 20% should be determined by the fans. Internet polling could be conducted. Some would argue that including a method like this would poison the well because internet polls can be slammed by one or two particular fan bases. I am okay with that, the exuberance of a given fan base should count for something. At the end of the day, the fans are only getting 20% of the total vote for these very reasons. By giving the fans a voice, the process would insure everyone had some participation in the process. Any aspiring writers dubbed not quite up to snuff by the sports media elite could at least weigh in as fans.
The final 10% would be contributed by a panel comprised of the Commissioner of Baseball and a panel of representatives from Cooperstown and Major League Baseball. This panel would be similar to the current Veterans Committee, or formerly known as the Committee on Baseball Veterans, except that the Commissioner of Baseball would also participate. This small contingent would act as a tie-breaker in the event of contentious voting results, and also oversee major decisions such as those that might effect players accused of PED use. This panel would only provide their input after the other 90% of the balloting had been completed and would be the only portion of the panel to cast their ballots with full knowledge of the current results. The most accurate way to describe this panel would be to say it would have final veto power, but only use that power in circumstances of extreme polarity.
Perhaps to the chagrin of mainstream print media, a system like this would include everyone. I believe this would be an extremely fair and accurate system that would take some, not even the majority of the power out of the hands of print media writers. It’s my opinion that the writers should not be the sole judge and jury on the Hall of Fame, nor should any other lone entity be. Human nature dictates that there are far too many people lacking in integrity and failing at their own profession to be the sole deciding factors in such important decisions.
I’d also like to take an opportunity to welcome Justin Suer to the Blog Red Machine team and thank Steve Engbloom and the Fansided Network for the opportunity to write for this site.