Blengino: The Hall of Fame mess, and how we got here

From SABR member Tony Blengino at FanGraphs on January 3, 2014, with mention of SABR members Bill James and Bill Deane:

Within the next few days, word will come down from on high regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014. This year, at least there will be a “class” elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America, unlike 2013, when dozens descended upon the idyllic town of Cooperstown, N.Y., to celebrate the induction of three men who were dead when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. How did we get here, to the current mess of a ballot featuring the most Hall-worthy players in history – most of who have zero chance of being elected, or at the very most have a significantly worse chance than, say, the 17th or so best player on the ballot. Better yet, how do we get out of this fix? 

First of all, a disclaimer: One should not take arguments regarding a player’s “Hall-worthiness” as an indictment of that player’s talent. To play at the lowest level of the minor leagues — let alone graduate to involvement in a Hall of Fame discussion — a player must possess significant levels of innate talent and finely honed skill. Baseball is foremost about the player, not the writer, the analyst or the club employee. Each individual who makes a living in the extended baseball industry owes a debt of thanks to the players, who are indirectly responsible for their livelihood. But if we are going to have a Hall of Fame, we might as well do it right. The players themselves deserve this, the sport deserves this, and, say what you will about the historical veracity of the site, the city of Cooperstown deserves this. The regional economy depends on it. Secondly, anyone who wants to study the history of the Hall and the evolution of its voting process and results simply must read “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame,” by Bill James, and hunt down anything written or said on the topic by Hall historian/expert Bill Deane.

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Originally published: January 3, 2014. Last Updated: January 3, 2014.