Posts Tagged ‘Major League 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.


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?