Why the Hall of Fame voting system is flawed and needs to change

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor

The Baseball Writers' Association of America is a splintered group of professional scribes in desperate need of direction and self-reflection.

Founded more than a century ago, the BBWAA essentially is a who's who of the nation's top baseball pundits. Members affiliated for more than a decade are bestowed the enviable task of voting on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Unfortunately, the entire voting process is broken and has become one of the greatest farces in professional sports.

Neither the Hall of Fame nor Major League Baseball give specific guidelines on enshrinement, so writers are left to create their own criteria to determine worthiness. Such a system becomes a major  problem when you have a ballot littered with players associated with baseball's steroid era 

Votes are taken hostage as the nearly 600 journalists with voting rights hold their own kangaroo court. Worthy candidates (i.e. Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez) are discounted because of unfounded suspicions of PED use, while other candidates are measured by a fictional gold standard that differs from voter to voter.

Compound these matters with the annual nonsense of not voting for a player the first year he's listed on the ballot and you can see why the BBWAA needs to regroup and adjust how it handles the voting process.

Mel Antonen covers baseball for MASNsports.com and published this article today explaining his ballot and justifying his selections. He's a solid writer and is extremely knowledgeable about the sport, but the final paragraph in the story capsulizes all that's wrong with the current voting setup.
"Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, players linked to steroids, are going to get sizable vote totals because baseball writers don't think the Baseball Writers' Association of America should be the organization policing alleged used of steroids. I understand that point of view, but I'm not there yet."
Antonen is rightfully entitled to his opinion, but the fact the BBWAA lacks the oversight to internally decide on the handling process of such matters is disconcerting. Simply put, you can't have 600 unique sets of criteria, yet that's the issue right now facing the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame.

Each writer views the ballot and their right to vote differently. That's a fine way to run a democracy, but I'm not too sure it's the best thing for baseball and Cooperstown.

- Patrick Gordon is managing editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Follow him on Twitter @Philabaseball or e-mail him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com 

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