Happy New Year to all, and here is my Hall of Fame ballot, which I’m faxing today to my friend Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
As a member of the BBWAA for at least 10 years, I am eligible to vote, and appreciate the opportunity to do so, although with all the controversy swirling around the process, I sometimes wonder if reporters should stay out of the business of making news and let the Hall devise a different system of choosing those it wants to honor. For example, when I talk to Sox play-by-play man Joe Castiglione, who has been broadcasting here for over 30 years, I understand why he feels every bit as qualified as any writer to vote. Joe is such a student of the game’s history, he’s probably better qualified than many of my colleagues, some of whom retain the right to vote even though they haven’t seen a game in years.
I won’t rehash the steroid argument here, other than to cite a passage written by the eminent Joe Posnanski, who was responding to an email newsletter from long-time New York Times baseball reporter Murray Chass, who refuses to vote for a player he considers a steroid cheat.
Wrote Chass: “If I’m wrong on any particular player, so be it, but I’d rather err on the side of caution. I wouldn’t want to learn two or three years after the fact that I had helped elect a cheater. Anyway my one vote won’t keep anyone out of the Hall.”
This was Posnanski’s response:
“I have to admit: I kind of want to put that quote on a T-shirt. It’s basically the opposite of Blackstone’s formulation -- 18th Century English jurist William Blackstone famously said, ‘It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.’ Chass’ formulation is: ‘It’s better that infinite innocent players* suffer because they might prove to be guilty in three years.’ But I think my favorite part of the quote is the last sentence. After saying, point blank, that he’s all for guilty until proven innocent he adds that it doesn’t matter because he only has one little vote anyway. He won’t keep anyone out. You know, unless he does.
“I think it would be a better Hall. I think it would be a better Hall of Fame for fans who watched those players, who identified with their greatness, who cheered until their throats felt raw, who jumped out of their seats when they did something almost unbelievable.
“Others would say they don’t deserve it. Maybe they don’t. Like I say, reasonable people can disagree. But I think the best Baseball Hall of Fame has the best baseball players in it. And I feel that way even if it means a few players who took steroids get to make a speech and hear the cheers one more time.’’
You can tell from my ballot which side of this argument I favor. I also like the idea that has been floated in several places of weighting the Hall ballot the same way we do the MVP voting. Instead of listing choices in no particular order, we would rank them 1-through-10, with a first-place vote getting 10 points, and on down.
Of course, voters don’t have to make the 10 picks they’re allotted to make on the Hall ballot. They don’t have to vote for anybody, or any number fewer than 10 as well.
A committee has been appointed by the BBWAA to study the ballot process, and perhaps the ballot will be expanded in the future (that would also require the approval of the Hall directors).
Here are the players I voted for, in alphabetical order:
* Jack Morris
* Tim Raines