Posts Tagged ‘BBWAA’

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 ESPN.com 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.

 

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 jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Controversy in Hall of Fame Elections

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

(October 26, 2010) Last evening I attended a talk at Skidmore College by Rick Shapiro, Senior Executive at the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Over the course of a fascinating evening, Rick’s presentation and discussion provided numerous insights into the business of sport and the business of baseball. In response to one student’s question, Rick stated his belief that the three most important people in baseball history were Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Marvin Miller.

As most readers of this blog will know, Ruth was a charter member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, inducted in its inaugural 1939 class, and Robinson was a first ballot inductee who famously broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 and was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1962.

Marvin Miller, however, has yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Why has the Hall of Fame not honored Miller? A little history here will bring the issue to light – a history with which those in professional baseball are well acquainted: Miller was the original Executive Director of MLBPA, serving from 1966 through 1983. He transformed the association into a bona fide labor union; then, gradually, into one of the strongest collective bargaining units in the United States. The prior statement, essentially from the MLBPA web site, says it all about Miller’s place in professional baseball history, particularly as MLBPA is a very strong entity and, in most minds, the strongest of the major sport players’ unions. Miller, working with the players, broke the owners’ absolute control over baseball players’ careers, and, in the end, established free agency in baseball as we know it today. Prior to his efforts, the Major League Baseball teams had total control over player movement.

Back to the original question: Why has the Hall of Fame not honored Miller? In the past the election process for executives included a significant number of major league executives, enough so Miller failed to meet the required 75% of ballots cast to be elected. Just this past July the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced new procedures 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?

Stay tuned for the Hall of Fame’s ballot announcement and, if Miller is included on the ballot, the eventual election results. The ballot is due to be announced any day now and the selection committee will meet and vote during Major League Baseball’s Winter Meeting in December.

And think about how any Hall of Fame considers controversial figures within its purview. Does your process place the consideration of those individuals 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 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?

Read more of Miller’s biography here.