P.R. or not, Hall change is good one
It's long overdue, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't extend our heartiest kudos to the Hall of Fame for finally exercising some control over the voting electorate...
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) - The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museumâs Board of Directors today announced a change to the Baseball Writersâ Association of America electorate, requiring potential Hall of Fame voters meet requirements as active members covering the game, while providing a 10-year grace period for those no longer active.
BBWAA members will maintain sole voting privileges for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an exclusive honor granted to the organization since the inaugural Hall of Fame election in 1936. Moving forward, potential Hall of Fame voters must hold an active BBWAA card or have held active status within the last 10 years. BBWAA members previously holding Hall of Fame voting privileges who are no longer active in the game and are more than 10 years removed from active status will have the opportunity for annual reinstatement, based on their coverage of the game in the preceding year.
Currently, approximately 650 BBWAA members are eligible to participate in the Hall of Fame vote, based on their status as 10-year BBWAA members. A voter registration system and survey will determine each individual member's eligibility.
In case anyone's wondering: No, this is NOT some back-handed ploy to get Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into the Hall. Yes, jettisoning a few voters in their 70s and '80s will almost certainly improve the percentages for the steroids guys. But considering they're not even at 40 percent yet, and have only seven more years on the BBWAA ballot, it's unlikely that they'll ever get to 75 percent.
Mostly what this does -- and being quite frank about it, I've been suggesting this for a long, long time -- is improve the appearance of the process, if not necessarily the results themselves. It just looks bad when you've got voters without any clear connection to the candidates. This conversation essentially began around 15 years ago when Maury Brown and others started looking at who was actually voting, and discovered some bizarre names on that list.
The actual impact was probably minimal, maybe kept Bert Blyleven and Rich Gossage waiting an extra year or something. But it just looked really bad. And the first rule of running a monopolistic institution is to keep up appearances, lest anyone start asking uncomfortable questions.