Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

January 17, 2013

Getting into the Hall should be tough

Cooperstown Crier

---- — Of course the National Baseball Hall of Fame and local business owners, particularly shops on Main Street, root for a good turnout for Induction Weekend.

There is a question about what kind of crowd will show up in Cooperstown for this year’s event since, for the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America elected no one.

Some have made comments on the Hall’s Facebook page that suggest they will boycott the Hall because there was nobody elected. That seems silly. OK, don’t come to the induction itself if you feel it will be a lackluster event. But why boycott the museum all together? The Hall would much rather see someone elected. Nobody from the organization has a say.

Some argue that the voting process needs to change and the privilege should be taken away from the writers. Words such as judgmental, sanctimonious, complicit, corrupt and clueless have been thrown around.

But why, because they kept a man who hit 762 home runs (Barry Bonds) out? Because a pitcher who won seven Cy Young Awards (Roger Clemens) wasn’t elected? Because a man who hit 609 home runs (Sammy Sosa) only got 12.5 percent of the vote?

The baseball writers stood up for integrity. Although they were presented with a star-studded Hall of Fame ballot, they kept those connected with steroid use out. They did not reward cheating. Hopefully they continue to do so.

The Hall’s Senior Director of Communications and Education Brad Horn said he doesn’t see it as a catastrophe for Cooperstown or the museum, but more like a statistical variance.

"The understanding is that to earn election to the Hall of Fame is very difficult," Horn said. "To earn 75 percent of the vote is meant to be hard. Part of the process is 600 ballots went out, and 569 were returned and only five were turned in blank. For the most part, a lot of guys got votes and are in the 15-year process of being reviewed."

Horn is right; being a member of the Hall should be the ultimate honor. It should not be easy to become a member of such an elite group. If it was, where would the integrity go? It would take away the meaning and gratification.

Each year, more and more voters are ignoring the ballot’s “character” clause. It needs to be taken more seriously. There were guys who played clean. There were guys who resisted the temptation. Maybe it cost them a shot at the majors. Why reward the cheaters?

And why be so quick to change the process? It is not the first time nobody has been elected. This marks the eighth time. It does not mean Cooperstown, from this day forward, will be the Hall of Ordinary, the Hall of Alleged Saints, or the Hall of Echoes. Take a look at who will be on the next couple of ballots. We may in fact be in store for some big years.