Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

(May 17, 2011) So I attribute this week’s column to “The Common Man and Bill” at MLB. It says so much about why a regular analysis of voting results just makes sense it deserves to be repeated and sent to a wider audience.

Title: The Hall of Fame Should Lower Voting Threshold

A few weeks back, Bill caught some attention when he revisited Bill James’ 25-year Hall of Fame projections from James’ excellent book, “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?” to see how the sensei did with his predictions. The results were interesting and, in Ruben Sierra‘s case, deeply funny. In the wake of Bill’s project, at the suggestion of a commenter, we decided to undertake the challenge ourselves. Our first installment is already up, and we’ll continue picking five years at a time for the rest of the week.

The truth is that the exercise is darn close to impossible due to the number of variables involved. We don’t know how the electorate will change, or how attitudes about PED use (or suspected PED use) are going to change in the coming years. We don’t know if voters will become more rational or not. But with so many deserving candidates on the ballot, it’s clear that some players are going to slip through the cracks, especially at the rate that the BBWAA elects candidates (exactly 1.5 per year from 1966-2011). This is unacceptable.

Jayson Stark wrote about this problem in January, saying:

For two decades, that instructional line on the ballot informing me not to vote for more than 10 candidates has never been a     problem. But it is now.

For the first time ever, 10 slots weren’t enough for me to vote for all the players who fit my definition of a Hall of Famer. For the first time ever, I had to leave off the names of players I’ve voted for in the past — not because I’d changed my mind, but because that 10-player limit got in the way.
And Jayson’s not alone in pointing this out, either. Think about it: We’re asking a disparate group of voters to reach not just a super-majority, but a super-super majority. So, to combat the problem, we propose a simple solution: The [National Baseball]Hall of Fame should lower the voting threshold needed to elect a candidate from three-fourths of BBWAA voters to two-thirds.

But wait, some of you are going to say, the Hall of Fame is for the best players ever and lowering the voting threshold would allow unworthy players a way in. Not true! Since 1980, only three players (Orlando Cepeda, Jim Bunning and Nellie Fox) have garnered more than two-thirds of the vote and still fallen short of election by the BBWAA, and no player has had more than two-thirds of the vote and not eventually been elected since 1994. However, you probably aren’t shocked to know that all three were elected by the Veterans Committee shortly thereafter. All have plaques resting comfortably in Cooperstown.

Rather than throwing the doors wide, then, what this proposal will do is speed up the process by which worthy players are voted in. It will allow the voting to more closely reflect the era in which they are voting, when suddenly a few writers and editors who are rabidly and proudly irrational and unfair about their choices, or have given up following the game closely are given less sway in the overall process. And if the players in question are going to get in eventually anyway, what’s the problem?

With just one year left before the mega-cohort of Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling and Kenny Lofton all hit the ballot at once, it is imperative that the Hall of Fame act on this now. Do not wait. Do not form a committee (good lord, does baseball not need another committee!). The backlog Stark identifies is only going to get worse.

The Hall of Fame may be a private institution, but it exists because baseball fans pay a great deal of money to go there and honor the game’s history and their favorite players. And for every worthy player that is excluded, the Hall will grow less and less legitimate as the keeper of the game’s past, and lose more and more of its appeal to the people who support it.


Induction: Challenges in Canton

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

(May 10, 2011) Yes, Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are facing a big challenge – rethinking the Induction Celebration or, as the Museum itself terms it, Enshrinement Weekend. I am sure it has been an on-going discussion since the first rumors of a potential lockout of the players – how do we structure the weekend if there is no game? It’s a challenge of mammoth proportions for both the Hall of Fame and the city. How to reorganize an event that has been well organized and received – a highly successful celebration that funds important programs at the Museum and provides the city with revenue?

While the Enshrinement Weekend website still highlights the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, we all know that behind the scenes a full alternative plan has been developed. We, the city, and the Hall of Fame are going to learn how important the game is to building the attendance and the buzz for the entire weekend. I am sure there are many concerned faces throughout the city and state.

The alternative plan is substantially complete by now and many of the key people in the alternate plan have their marching orders. When to announce the change? How to announce the change? These are tough questions for the executives in Canton.

What the Pro Football Hall of Fame will do has the potential to be instructive for everyone. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum faced the same challenge less than a decade ago when Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association were unable to make the schedule work any longer and the mid-season exhibition in Cooperstown was discontinued. Over time the Cooperstown museum has adjusted to the loss of the game by instituting the Hall of Fame Classic, a non-Major League Baseball exhibition game though not scheduled on Induction Weekend, and adding or changing various Induction Weekend programming elements. This year there’s a new event on the schedule, the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation on Doubleday Field that will honor the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum annual award winners, i.e. the Ford Frick and other media awards.

Okay, so what’s my point? Even the biggest Halls of Fame have challenges and concerns and need to re-evaluate their induction weekends/ceremonies/events on a regular basis. Are you thinking about what alternatives there are to your traditional induction program? How might outside forces cause you to change? Have you sketched alternative scenarios for the event? Always good to have other event models in the hopper, just in case!

Jack Huckel, Founder & Principal of J.R. Huckel & Associates, offers election and induction consulting services to Halls of Fame. Jack served the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum as Director of Museum and Archives for 9-1/2 years after more than 10 years as a volunteer. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at or 518/852-3033.


Closing the Loop on Marvin Miller and the Hall of Fame in 2010

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

(December 7, 2010) I have written previously on the new election process the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is using to review and potentially elect non-players and veteran players (those not elected through the Baseball Writers of America Association process). As I predicted in two earlier columns, Marvin Miller, former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, aka the Union, failed to receive the 12 votes needed to garner election. Here’s today’s New York Times story on the election announcement. As one might expect, MLBPA also commented on the results of the election.

Interestingly, the vote as reported seems to mirror the points I made in my blog of October 26, 2010 entitled “Controversy in Hall of Fame Elections,” quoted here:

Just this past July the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced newprocedures for the consideration of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players. The new procedure for the election of executives will continue to include major league executives on the 16-person selection committee. Will they constitute more than 25% of the committee and continue to, as some observers believe, block Miller’s election? The first answer to that question may be revealed when the Hall of Fame releases the Expansion Era Ballot this month. Will Miller’s name appear on this ballot? If so then the follow-on questions include: What will be the exact composition of the committee? One would think the Hall of Fame players on the committee would all vote for Miller, but will all the historians and veteran media members? And if they all were to vote for Miller, are there 12 of them so he reaches the Hall of Fame 75% criteria, assuming the major league executives will continue to not vote for Miller?

And in a follow-up to that column dated November 9, 2010, after the Hall of Fame has announced the individuals to be considered by the committee, I wrote:

Note, as my previous column stated, that the committee has four (4) MLS executives who will, perhaps, not vote for Miller. If that were true, then he would require votes from every other member of the committee to be elected, a challenging scenario.

It appears to me that what I observed has indeed transpired – one of the 12 non-major league baseball executives chose not vote for Miller and his case is closed until 2013, the next time he can be considered for election to the Hall of Fame.

Miller’s reaction as reported in the New York Times is here.

Once again, I pose these questions for your consideration:

  • Does your process place the consideration of candidates under conflict of interest threat?
  • How can your Hall of Fame create a fair process that keeps personal or professional animosities from being a part of the election or selection process?
  • Time will tell (has told) whether their new procedure will meet that goal for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but are you thinking about it for your Hall of Fame as well?

On this date I urge you to pause a moment and reflect on the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a “Day of Infamy” as famously intoned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Many good people died that day in service to the United States and for the principle that a just world should more closely model the glowing ideal enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, that all are created equal and are “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jack Huckel, Founder & Principal of J.R. Huckel & Associates, offers election and induction consulting services to Halls of Fame. More information is available at the firm’s web site and Jack can be reached at or 518/852-3033.

The Big Day

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

(December 1, 2010) Whatever the organization’s goals, the big day at Halls of Fame for everyone is Induction Day. Everything done with elections, with committees, with the press, and the general public all points toward the moment when those chosen to be honored are put on the public stage and given their moment in Hall of Fame history. Whether the Hall of Fame is a local and relatively unknown or national and universally recognized, Induction Day is the day when everything comes together and the Hall of Fame goes on display.

Preparing for Induction Day is a time-consuming and detailed-orientated series of tasks that is critical to creating a program that celebrates the honorees and the history they represent. Here’s a short list of some of the tasks that I suggest must be completed to be assured that, at the end of Induction Day, one goes home with a smile:

  1. Do as much as possible in advance. Leaving arrangements to the last minute is sure to create tension, headaches, and, undoubtedly, a slip-up or two.
  2. Complete multiple walk-throughs and rehearsals with as many of the principals as possible. One of my nightmare days was a sudden program change in the middle of a big dinner that came about because we could never get our leadership to do a walk-through. In the middle of the event the order changed at his insistence and the program became a scramble for the next two hours with several staffers adjusting on the fly and two planned elements getting short-shift to accommodate the change.
  3. Equipment checks are incredibly important and do not do just one. Audio and video equipment need to be run, the music and speeches recreated as best as possible. One can’t do this enough!
  4. Check back with your vendors and caterers, from having the correct date and time down to the finest detail.
  5. As one reviews and plans, changes may occur. While few will be major, it is important that your contacts with vendors, caterers, volunteers, and staff have been updated to reflect these changes?
  6. Lastly, review the anticipated attendance. Are the arrangements appropriate to the number of attendees?
  7. And remember to anticipate living the duck analogy – the surface may be calm to the outsider, but you are furiously paddling under the surface!

Make Induction Day a signature day for your honorees by planning in advance and constantly reviewing and checking your plans. Finish the day with a smile on your face and on the faces of all who attended.

Follow-up to the Marvin Miller Post

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

(November 9, 2010) Two weeks ago I wrote about Marvin Miller and the fact that Major League Baseball Players’ Association Senior Executive Rick Shapiro stated that Miller was one of the three most influential men in Major League Baseball history and yet had not been honored by Hall of Fame induction. I wrote about whether he would be on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. Just yesterday the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced that Miller is on the 12-name Expansion Era ballot for the Committee to Consider Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players for Hall of Fame election. To be elected Miller will need to be named on 75% of the ballots cast by the committee considering the nominees.

The committee: “…16-member electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).”

Note, as my previous column stated, that the committee has four (4) MLS executives who will, perhaps, not vote for Miller. If that were true, then he would votes from every other member of the committee to be elected, a challenging scenario.

The nominees, in addition to Miller are: “…former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, and George Steinbrenner.”

The results of the Expansion Era vote will be announced on December 6 at 10 a.m. ET from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. I’ll be tuned into the announcement. Will you?