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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Has the Baseball Hall of Fame Lost its Mystique?

Has the Baseball Hall of Fame Lost its Mystique?

Ever since Andre “the Hawk” Dawson was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame in the early part of 2010, many questions have been brought up and many people are not happy with the results. Currently, the way to get into the HOF is done in one of two ways. The first way is to be voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The rules they must follow are: only vote for people who have played for 10 professional seasons in the major leagues and have not played in the major leagues the last five years. The second way to have a plaque in Cooperstown is to be elected in by the Veterans Committee. The Veterans Committee only votes for players that did not get in by the fifteen-year window that is allotted by the BBWAA. The Veterans Committee also votes for the non-player positions of baseball such as managers, umpires, and executives.

Currently, a player needs 75% of the votes to get in. For some players, this is very easy to obtain, but for others, it can literally come down to 5-10 votes between being in and being out. There are players that are considered “first ballot” hall of famers. These players are the greatest players to have ever stepped on the field and regardless of their personalities, their stats overwhelm everything else.

Even though it is a huge honor to be voted into the HOF, how the voting is handled is not the best way to accommodate the mark of respect that comes with such a title. A big problem with the voters, who are selected from different newspapers across the United States after being a baseball writer for a certain length of time, is many of them hold grudges against the players. For example, another player on the HOF ballot was Roberto Alomar. Alomar could have an argument made for him that he is the greatest second baseman of all time. He was an 11-time gold glove winner, and a 12-time All-Star with a .300 career batting average. He also won many silver slugger awards, which means he was the best offensive player at his position. So in four of his 17 major league seasons he was the best overall player at his position. Every one thought he was a lock to be in the HOF. But he did not get in, this year being his first year of eligibility. The sole reason, because in 1996 he argued with an umpire and spit in his face, leading to a 5 games suspension to start the 1997 season and a $50,000 fine to be donated to an ALD or adrenoleukodystrophy charity. One voter was recently featured on MLB Network the day the voting took place and blatantly said that he did not vote for Alomar because of the “spitting incident”.

There is an issue with that. The voters are supposed to look at the total package of the player and decide based on statistics and nothing else on whether the player belongs with the greats. However, there is more to it than that. Unless you are a brown nose to the media and make them happy all of the time, or be so great of a player that you can be rude to them and get away with it, there is no chance of getting in the Hall of Fame. The problem with this is that Alomar’s spitting incident was not that bad. Was it inappropriate and classless? Absolutely. However, there has been a lot worse done in this game. Mickey Mantle was a fall down drunk and he is in the Hall. Gaylord Perry made the spitball and took vaseline off of his hat and he is still in the hall. Difference is, Mantle played in New York and everyone loved him. Alomar was not loved by everyone.

Baseball has gone through many different traumatic incidents that set the game back. One of them being the era that just will not go away, and that era is the steroid era.  That era was definitely a disgrace to the game, but the most important thing is that steroids were not illegal. This is just like the cocaine era in the NBA and the performance enhancing drugs era in the NFL. Before 2004, steroids were just as legal as buying Zyrtec or Tylenol. The reason steroids are being mentioned is because another player, who has been on the ballot for three years now is also seeing the effects from the voters. Mark “Big Mac” McGuire is 8th on the all time homerun list with 583. He recently admitted to taking steroids and regrets using them. Props to him for doing so; but because he did steroids when they were legal and since now they are not, he does not deserve to be in the hall? For more than a decade he was one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball. To boot, he was a nice guy who liked everybody.

Think about it, if Big Mac played ten years sooner and retired in 1991 instead of 2001 and had the same numbers, he would already be in. Why punish the player when that was what baseball was. Baseball was a syringe filled with steroids in the 1990s. McGuire is being treated rather unfairly and it is not fair to him. Especially so if say Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez manage to get into the hall. Both of them cheated but they are still being strongly considered.

The voters need to be taken away. They need to be screened to the fullest as to where all that can be looked at is the stats. Using personal conduct as a reason to not vote someone in should not be acceptable. If this cannot be accomplished, there should be a new system. Whether this means setting stat requirements that must be reached in order to be in. Say for example, be in the top 5% in all major statistical categories at the time of your retirement in order to be in. Or possibly a minimum of 10-15 years where you were in the top 10 overall at your position. Something along those lines would be a good start. Also, any number of players can get in. Not have it be one or two a year. If five deserve to be in, then darn it all five will get in.  Either way, the sitcom drama that is the BBWAA needs to end and needs to end now.

About the Contributor
Andrew Otovik served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011