The Baseball Hall of Fame, Deadspin, the Third Rail, and the Fourth Wall

I started writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame even before we started ALDLAND (see also here and here), and the issues and conversations surrounding Cooperstown and the process by which players are chosen to be enshrined there often lack basic elements of reason and logic.

Briefly, membership in the Hall is regulated by a group of writers who are affiliated with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who enforce unwritten rules and take self-aggrandizing positions in a way that makes Brian McCann look progressive and relaxed.

Today, Deadspin announced that it has broken the mold: an eligible voter agreed to sell Deadspin his or her vote. The site now is in the process of determining how it, and its readers, will cast that ballot, which was released today. In the meantime, the site is trying to buy more votes.

For someone else’s thoughts on what this means, click here.

I don’t know that the predominant basis of the HOF selection process should be a popular vote. After all, we see that on a small scale every year in the All-Star Game balloting, which leads to ridiculous and deeply uninformed outcomes. I do think it’s okay to mix things up a little bit, though.

I might write more about the names on this year’s ballot at a later date– it’s sort of interesting to see the number of hilarious former Tigers, including Todd Jones, Sean Casey, and Kenny Rogers, alongside the great Alan Trammell, on the list– but I’m not really qualified to do that.

At the very least, we now can say that Cooperstown is Y2K compatible. Whether that will or should change anything about the place, and how this real-life experiment will unfold, are other questions.

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6 thoughts on “The Baseball Hall of Fame, Deadspin, the Third Rail, and the Fourth Wall

  1. So you’re interested in some kind of semi-popular influence along with some closed black box set of “rules”? Sounds like you want to stick the BCS engine onto the HoF to me.

    • No, that’s not what I meant to say. I do think a popular influence is okay, but I don’t think a “closed black box set of ‘rules'” is necessary. I also don’t think that describes the BCS: aren’t the computer formulas known?

      Right now, I’m thinking of a semi-indirect democratic model, where a group of electors (who could be baseball writers) have most of the say, while fans can have some direct input as well. As I was writing this post, I was thinking about the Heisman voting (http://promo.espn.go.com/espn/contests/nissan/heisman/2013/#/), not the BCS.

      In reading more about this today, I read a comment that argued we should get rid of the fifteen-year ballot placement concept and annual enshrinement caps, giving everybody one shot to get in, and allowing the veterans’ committee to clean up any errors. I think there’s some benefits to that suggestion.

      (On the topic of the BCS, I think we’re going to miss it, and I think we could be wishing we had it back as soon as about 365 days from today. A topic for another post.)

      • I already miss it even though it isn’t gone. The BCS has actually gone through about 4 different iterations. Some general information about the algorithms are known but the specifics aren’t generally known, although they are well emulated.

        On the BHoF I really like the idea of one and done. It puts real pressure on whoever is deciding to get it right. That way when history shows a clear mistake we can point a finger and say who messed up or made a political statement or whatever.

  2. Pingback: At last, unimpeachable grounds for removing a BBWAA member’s hall of fame vote | ALDLAND

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