Baseball Hall of Fame: A morning roundup of calm before the storm

Ethan Miller

Some rational takes from before the vote is announced. Later, the fur will fly.

As we count down to Zero Hour, when this year's Hall of Fame results are announced, let's take a quick trip around the internet for some #HotTakes and some reasonable opinions.

First up, Astros County has a pair of pieces where he drops some knowledge. The first is on why he cares about the Hall of Fame:

The Hall of Fame will never be irrelevant, there is too much history there. I am an Astros fan through and through, but I got goosebumps seeing Cy Young's tobacco spit-stained jersey. I had to walk through the Plaque Gallery to get to my office, and eventually I had to start leaving earlier so that I could just stop and read Amos Rusie's plaque, or Addie Joss's plaque, or Eddie Murray's, or...you get the idea. The fact that Every Body - regardless of whether they have actually made it to Cooperstown - gets so pissed off this time of year about the Hall of Fame serves as confirmation that the Hall of Fame will never be irrelevant. But the very people who handle the actual electing of the Hall of Famers are making the institution difficult to appreciate.

James makes a great point here. It's one I agree with, though I know Tim is sort of on the opposite end of the spectrum. Wait, slight detour as we look at another article on Tim's end of the spectrum. This one's from Marc Normandin:

Again, it's not the entire BBWAA that's at fault here, but there are just enough voters out there submitting ballots with a check mark next to Jack Morris and a giant middle finger covering the rest of the page to screw up the process. There are also just enough voters who don't even cover baseball anymore but still have a say in writing its history, who only have to think about the game one day per year, to muck things up even further. Believe me, I'm not one of those people who thinks the BBWAA should be replaced en masse, or that The Internet knows what's best for business and should be given voting rights in their stead, but it would be pretty cool if we could get actual baseball writers to vote on what is, in theory, at least, baseball's greatest honor.

Back to AC, who has a takedown of Jon Heyman's take on Bagwell:

Jon Heyman published his HOF ballot this morning. Good for him. I actually respect the guys who publish their ballots, even when (almost invariably "when") I don't agree with them, because they'll at least stand up and get page views own their opinion.

So Heyman used all ten spots, including one on Craig Biggio, and then it seems as though he ranks the rest of the candidates. Where does Jeff Bagwell fall? All the way down to 17th, behind Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Kent, Lee Smith, Larry Walker, and Mike Piazza - all of whom were left off his ballot.

On the reasonable takes side, we've got Craig Calcaterra NOT attacking people in jerk-ish manners (or not...I still haven't picked a side) talking about how this vote should be given some perspective:

Why? Because the last time as many as three men were inducted to the Hall of Fame it was 1999, when George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount made it. That's a long time ago. The last time as many as four made it was 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Dazzy Vance and Ted Lyons made it in. Simply put, the Hall of Fame does not elect a lot of people at once. If, as I suspect, they do this year, it'll be a pretty big deal.

That doesn't mean that this year's vote shouldn't be criticized. After all, even if four get in, there will be anywhere from six to ten or even more who are deserving but are getting the shaft for various reasons, many specious, and that's sad. But getting the farkakte group of baseball writers who comprise the electorate to agree on three or four guys is worth mentioning and worth being happy about.

Moving on to the voters themselves, we've got Ed Sherman arguing why the BBWAA shouldn't have a vote at all:

Ultimately, the writers' votes not only will be granting baseball immortality to the players selected, they also will be increasing the financial bottom line for the new Hall of Famers. The inductees will be in far more demand to make appearances where they can place "HOF, 2014" after their signatures.

That in itself is a huge conflict of interest. However, the issue now goes deeper.

Thanks to the cheaters, the Hall of Fame voters now are the ultimate judges over the legacy of the steroid era. They will determine whether players like Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa ever get an invitation to Cooperstown. Judging by the initial returns, the answer appears to be an emphatic no.

And we've got Jon Paul Morosi defending the BBWAA:

Before invective about the BBWAA's judgment (or lack thereof) splats across your smartphone once more, please allow me to make the following points:

• 1. Look at the all-time roster of Hall of Famers. For the most part, over the years, the right people have made it to Cooperstown. That says something about the selection process.

• 2. Hall voting involves sportswriters rendering opinions on the careers and characters of people they might not know very well. That's not perfect. Never has been. But no system is.

Taking a third side is Mike Bates, who has the closest thing to a solution I've seen and I wholeheartedly endorse:

So how do you solve a problem like Murray? If it can't beat him, obviously, the BBWAA should let more writers join him. It means acknowledging that great historians like John Thorn, Dorothy Seymour Mills, sabermetric icons Pete Palmer and Gary Gilette, Sean Lahmann, Retrosheet founder David W. Smith, Baseball-Reference's Sean Forman, SABR BioProjoct director Mark Armour, SBNation's Rob Neyer, and Sabermetrics Godfather Bill James have all more than earned their places in the organization. It also means adding modern analysts like Jay Jaffe, Chris Jaffe, Tom Tango, Nate Silver, and more.

The BBWAA should also shorten the 10-year waiting period for members to get a ballot so that the voting bloc is more representative of the organization as a whole. And writers in those groups listed above should be credited for the time they were writing obsessively about the game but the BBWAA chose to ignore them. That would allow relatively new BBWAA members like Dave Cameron, Ben Lindbergh, Jonah Keri, David Schoenfield, and Keith Law, among others, to join the process immediately. That way, while Chass's voice, and those of other notorious cranks, will still be represented, they will be smaller voices in a larger, more diverse ocean of ideas.

Lastly, we've got a few fake ballots. From Beyond the Box Score, we've got a ballot that elected six names, including Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina.

At Baseball Prospectus, they elected seven:

Under BBWAA rules-namely, the 10-player voting limit-our 2014 Hall of Fame class features seven players. (The number of ballots on which each player appeared and the percentage that number represents are in parentheses.)

Greg Maddux (40, 97.56%)
Barry Bonds (39, 95.12%)
Roger Clemens (39, 95.12%)
Frank Thomas (39, 95.12%)
Jeff Bagwell (37, 90.24%)
Tom Glavine (34, 82.93%)
Tim Raines (33, 80.49%)

Oh, and let's close with Jay Jaffe providing some historical context on this ballot. It's great stuff and good to keep in mind while we rejoice/remain disappointed:

As of 7:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, 194 publicly revealed ballots had been tallied by Baseball Think Factory, a number that accounts for 34.1 percent of the electorate based upon last year's total of 569 votes. According to those ballots, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are all virtually assured of gaining first-ballot entry. All three players have received at least 90 percent of the vote thus far, well above the 75 percent needed for election. That would make this the first time since 1999, when George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount gained entry, that more than two players have been voted in by the writers, and it will rival not only that class but also the class of 1991 (Rod Carew, Fergie Jenkins and Gaylord Perry) among the best of all time. Meanwhile, Maddux and Glavine will be the first teammates elected in the same year since Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford in 1974.

But wait, there's more! Second-year candidate Craig Biggio is polling at 78.4 percent among that segment of the voting pool; he was well above 80 percent until a flood of ballots was revealed on Monday and Tuesday, and it now appears as though he could be in for a close play at the plate. If he does gain entry, this will mark the first time since 1955 (Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Dazzy Vance) that the BBWAA has elected four players.

Things could really get crazy if both Biggio and fellow second-year candidate Mike Piazza make it; Piazza was up to 72 percent early Monday but has since slipped back to 68.6 percent, so he's probably a longshot. If he somehow does get in, it will mark the first time since the inaugural class of 1936 that the writers have voted in five players.

Soon, we'll see more takes. They'll be more emotional. They'll fly the gamut of emotion. Just remember to keep perspective and don't blame the system. Fix it instead.

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