BIGGIO’S WAIT NOT THE SYSTEM’S FAULT
Following up upon what I wrote yesterday now that we’ve seen the outcome of the 2014 BBWAA Hall of Fame vote…
I’m thrilled Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas will join Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre in the Hall’s Class of 2014. The 3 legends elected yesterday are all slam-dunk Hall of Famers by any measure, a credit to the game on and off the field.
I’m disappointed Craig Biggio fell just short of election and will have to wait another year. But while I’d have cast a vote for him if I had one, I fail to comprehend the outrage that his candidacy again fell short among some members of the BBWAA.
Their contention is that Biggio missing election by a mere 2 votes is a clear signal that the process must change, that the ballot must be expanded, giving writers a chance to vote for more than 10 players in a given year.
Here are the hard numbers from this year’s election: of the 571 ballots cast, 50 percent (an all-time high) voted for the maximum 10 players. Of the approximately 285 who left at least one spot on their ballot blank, you can’t tell me there weren’t more than 2 who didn’t vote for Biggio.
Any 2 of those voters had the chance to put Biggio in Cooperstown in 2014. For whatever reason, they chose not to. And that’s their prerogative.
There’s a member of the BBWAA who has taken to social media to solicit the names of writers who filled all 10 places on their ballots and WOULD HAVE voted for Biggio if they’d have had more spots. He says this will help make the case that the ballot needs to be expanded beyond 10 spots moving forward.
What these people would be saying is Craig Biggio was, in their presumably careful estimation, no better than the 11th-best choice on a ballot that contained 36 players. Their claim is we should change the ballot procedure because, by some outrage, the 11th-best player on the ballot wasn’t elected to the most exclusive club in Sports this year. (Remember, he’s got 13 more years on the ballot, but that’s a moot point because he’s bound to pick up the addition .2 percent of the vote he needs next year.)
In 2013, when Biggio debuted on the ballot, no one cried about being limited to voting for only 10 players. Still, Biggio received only 68.2 percent of the necessary 75 percent a year ago.
Put this year aside for a second. Voters didn’t elect Biggio in a year in which not only was the ballot not in writers’ estimation overcrowded. They didn’t elect Biggio in a year in which the voting bloc didn’t deem a single other candidate on the ballot worthy of the 75 percent vote needed for election either.
This outrage rings hollow to me. To the writers who are angry, rather than looking to alter a ballot because of an issue that had never previously popped up in a process that dates to 1936, maybe the answer is a lot easier:
Look in the mirror and lobby your brethren. If you feel so strongly about Biggio, talk to the 144 voting members of the BBWAA who didn’t think he was one of the 10-best players on their ballot this year.
Talk to your brother who didn’t vote for Biggio because, as he told a national radio audience, putting any more than 3 players on his ballot would risk the Induction Ceremony running too long.
Talk to your brother who didn’t vote for any player who played in the steroid era, whether or not there may have been any evidence linking individual players to performance enhancing drugs.
Talk to your brother who hasn’t covered Major League Baseball regularly in years and admits to thinking so little of the process that he gave his ballot to a Web site (which did in fact vote for Biggio).
Talk to your brother who submitted a blank ballot.
Talk to your brothers who cast ridiculous votes for Armando Benitez and Jacque Jones.
And while you campaign for 12 or 15 or an unlimited number of spots on the ballot in the future, be wary of any number of unintended consequences that could result from expanding a ballot that has suited Baseball and the Hall of Fame very well since 1936.
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