Kepner: In Hall of Fame vote, an idea for solving the Rule of 10

From Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on December 5, 2014:

On Monday in San Diego, the veterans’ committee will cast its ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among the voters are eight existing Hall of Famers, four club executives and four members of the news media. They will debate the merits of candidates passed over by the writers — Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Luis Tiant and others.

Hundreds of writers are also voting this month on the more recent class of players, and those debates are more nuanced. The only question that should matter, of course, is whether each candidate belongs in Cooperstown. But for the writers, filling out a Hall of Fame ballot has also become a matter of strategy and morality.

It is strategic because of the rule that limits voters to a maximum of 10 choices from a ballot with 34 names. And it is tied up in morals because of the steroid era that the Hall of Fame asks the writers to judge.


Perhaps, then, it is time to face this reality: Vote for Bonds and Clemens, and you are throwing those votes away. The veterans’ committee, not the writers, is destined to be their final arbiter. The writers should focus on the candidates who actually have a chance.

Of course, for voters willing to overlook possible steroid use, it seems to defy logic to pass on the best players up for election. For them — on a ballot not limited to 10 choices — the boxes next to Bonds and Clemens should be the first checked.

But under the current system, if they continue to vote for Bonds and Clemens, they are effectively limiting their ballot to eight spaces — not nearly enough for a field this crowded. And too many strong candidates will disappear as a casualty.

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Originally published: December 5, 2014. Last Updated: December 5, 2014.