Dan's Dugout: Controversy Captures Cooperstown Vote • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Controversy Captures Cooperstown Vote

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There’s no Electoral College to distort the verdict of the electorate.

But that doesn’t mean the voting system for the Baseball Hall of Fame is a bastion of fairness.

That’s hardly the case.

Start with the fact that candidates need 75 per cent of the vote to be chosen. That would be tough even if every voter filled out his 10-man ballot completely – as is required by the same organization in voting for Most Valuable Player honors in each league.

Instead, too many writers consider their cherished right to vote just an excuse to monkey around.

Hank Aaron’s name was omitted from nine Hall of Fame ballots
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Inexplicably, nine members of the Baseball Writers Association of America – the electorate selected by the Hall of Fame – left Henry Louis Aaron off their ballots. We’re not talking first-place votes here; but anywhere in their Top 10 votes of 1982.

No one has ever won unanimous election and no one ever will, not even Mariano Rivera, who tops next year’s ballot, or Derek Jeter, whose name comes up the following year.

Only a handful of votes separated Ken Griffey, Jr.and Tom Seaver from perfect scores, with Griffey’s name missing from three ballots and Seaver’s from five – thanks in part to three writers who returned blank ballots in protest of their inability to vote for the banned Pete Rose.

Griffey’s percentage was 99.3. topping the list of highest percentage of votes, with Seaver next at 98.84.

Junior Griffey got the top percentage of votes for the Hall of Fame
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

They’re followed in the Top 5 by Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Ty Cobb.

Writers have all kinds of reasons why they will or won’t vote for a player.

Some simply refuse to check off anyone the first time he appears on a ballot.

Others carry personal grudges, such as memories of player brush-offs or bad interviews.

A few harbor racist attitudes, though none would dare to admit it.

And many feel the 10-man ballot – and 10-year eligibility period – are so tight that they will vote for a home-town favorite (i.e. Omar Vizquel this year) over a shoo-in like Chipper Jones, who tops this year’s ballot.

A writer from The Cleveland Plain Dealer apparently forgot the name of his own newspaper; his ballot listed only two men he covered, Jim Thome and Vizquel, but had eight open spaces.

Such voters twist the intent of the system.

Every ballot with unfilled spaces makes it even more difficult for anyone to amass the required 75 per cent of the vote. That’s why Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman missed by an eyelash last year and now face increased competition on the 2018 ballot.

Then there’s the Barry & Roger issue. Bonds and Clemens were on the fast track to Cooperstown before both allegedly resorted to artificial means to boost their numbers as they aged. Bonds, for example, hit 50 home runs in a season just once – the year he hit 73 while playing in the toughest home run target in the majors.

As Yogi Berra once said, something wasn’t kosher in the State of Denmark.

Chipper Jones tops this year’s Hall of Fame ballot
Credit: Bill Menzel

Because it does not belong to the BBWAA, Latino Sports does not participate in the Hall of Fame voting. But if it did, here’s how this ballot would read (in alphabetical order):

Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Jim Thome

Barry & Roger could squeeze into the Hall but will never squeeze onto this ballot. There’s no room for cheaters, gamblers, or others willing to tweak the history of the Grand Old Game.

The names of those chosen by the writers will be announced on January 24. They will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 29, along with Veterans Committee selections Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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