If you’re a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and happen to be reading this, check your mailbox. Your 2016 Hall of Fame ballot was just mailed out.
And if you happen to be one of the many members who hasn’t covered or even watched a ballgame since Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth on the home run list (nobody knows exactly how many of you there are because the BBWAA refuse to say), PLEASE do us a favor!
Baseball Writers at Polo Grounds 1911. (Pach Brothers studio/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
Chuck your ballot in the trash along with your junk mail from AARP, Depends and Fixodent. It’s both a shame and ironic the organization created more than a century ago to professionalize the press box can’t do better by the players they rely on for their copy than a selection process little better than replacement level.
You see, there’s seven former Yankees — Jorge Posada, Mike Mussina,Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Tim Raines, Javier Vazquez and Lee Smith — on the ballot this year. One homegrown, the rest adopted; all respected and appreciated by baseball fans everywhere. And we don’t want or need your old-school eye tests, your metric-phobia, your inability to access and analyze pertinent databases or even follow the sport via computer since the Sporting News went out of print, or any loyalties to old drinking buddies you used to “cover” throwing roadblocks in theirs or anyone else’s path to Cooperstown.
Because goodness knows the path is challenging enough just staying healthy long enough and playing well enough to even make it onto the ballot in the first place. Throw in the constraints of limited ballot slots, the narrow qualifying profile for voter eligibility and conflicts of interest associated with the designated voter pool, and the obstacles to induction resemble something akin to Bartolo Colon trying to leg out an inside-the-park homer on a hot steamy afternoon.
I’m not going to waste anyone’s time or BYB’s space here laying out the pros and cons of anyone’s Hall of Fame bonafides. Far more knowledgeable and articulate baseball observers than I have already done so, and all you have to do is Google “Hall Of Fame Case” and peruse the players’ names and their work. Read up, revel in the diversity of the data that’s out there and howl with righteous indignation January 18th when the official tallies are announced.
(Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)
Your opinion is no more or less valid than a small group of baseball writers that won’t even tell you how many of them actually watch the sport or compel their members to publish their ballots. (Will the three drunken clowns who didn’t vote for Ken Griffey Jr. please stand up?)
I’ll just content myself with the knowledge that in the 80 years since the first Hall election, just 217 major leaguers have managed to crack the code for induction and 24 of them are wearing Yankee caps on their plaques. And this year, the Yankees have a half dozen players under consideration who have worn the pinstripes for all or part of their distinguished careers and did them proud.
And whether any or all of their Hall credentials are ultimately deemed extraordinary enough to warrant induction or not, as a fan of this ball club I get to watch some pretty extraordinary players make history every year, and I’ve got Monument Park.