Levine: What the 1936 Hall of Fame ballot tells us about today

From SABR member Zachary Levine at Baseball Prospectus on January 7, 2014:

Hall of Fame voting is decidedly broken. Or maybe it’s only a mess depending on the alarmism factor of the columnist who says so. Or maybe the Hall itself is broken and beyond repair.

The problems are deep-rooted and comprehensive, covering everything from interpretation of the ballot to the moralizing of the voting base.

There are major issues with the rules of the ballot, which will have to be looked at in the coming years. There are “look-at-me” voters who will prevent a unanimous vote for one of the most obviously qualified candidates you could ever have. There is the perhaps overbearing interpretation of the character-related conditions that will cost some of the greatest talents ever their due votes. And perhaps worst of all, there is a backlog of worthy candidates that’s going to take years if not decades to slog through.

As Thomas Boswell wrote on WashingtonPost.com: “Every year, as ballots are cast by New Year’s Eve, the impossible conundrum will sit there like a smoldering reminder of an era of bad faith. You can’t close the joint. But the Babe deserves better.”

Which is sorta funny because, in addition to nobody having any idea what “.com” means, the Babe hasn’t even been inducted yet, and “the joint” is still three years away from opening its doors.

Welcome to 1936, where all these voting problems you think are so interesting and apocalyptic in 2014 really aren’t that exceptional. And where if you think the Hall of Fame just broke under your watch, you’ve forgotten about us.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22514

Originally published: January 7, 2014. Last Updated: January 7, 2014.