One Hall of Fame voter’s recusal

Tim Brown, one of our better and better-known baseball writers, didn’t send in his Hall of Fame ballot this time around. 

I simply tired of helping — in a very small way –“ to create the news that drove the outrage. The condescending diatribes. The uncivil debates. The arched eyebrows and spittle. The campaigning. The agendas. The disregard — no, the pointed hatred –“ for a contrary opinion.

And that was all before the second beer arrived.

Well, maybe that’™s all part of it now. And maybe that’™s somewhat healthy for a system that clearly isn’t perfect but, for the moment, is the best we’™ve got. Because I do believe the BBWAA is most qualified to render as close to a pure decision on in or out as we have. I also believe it shouldn’t (which is not for me to decide), and I certainly shouldn’™t (which is).

Those men and women, they care. They really do. They want to get it right, when — particularly in the middle of the ballot — there’™s no real right. Or wrong. That’™s why there’™s a vote. What’™s right for some explodes the brains of the rest, however, and that’™s probably not healthy.

Craig Calcaterra’s been responding to Brown’s column, serially in his Twitter feed. And responding well, I think. Craig wrote a lot of the things I was thinking (which probably doesn’t surprise you much, if you know us at all).

I will say this: I respect absolutely the decision to remove oneself from the process. It is flawed, and it is messy, and maybe it’s better for writers to report rather than make the news, and yes there is a conflict of interest involved there.

If someone doesn’t want to vote purely because of the ensuing criticism that’s inevitable … Well, how can you argue with that? I think I could handle this particular criticism, but I don’t know because I’ve never voted. I do know that some manifestations of negativity bother me enough that I do what I can to keep them out of my life. 

One note about the BBWAA (of which I am not, I’ll remind you, a member; they won’t have me) … Brown’s probably right: The BBWAA probably is more qualified than any other particular body. Which doesn’t mean the BBWAA couldn’t be more qualified. Or couldn’t be augmented with other voters, at least as qualified.

The Hall of Fame balloting is just another entry in the marketplace of ideas. As consumers in that market, we’re all permitted (and expected!) to make judgments. And it’s inevitable that some of our judgments will be, or will seem, less than civil. This is nothing new.