MLB Hall of Fame: The First Ballot Sacred Cow

Josh McCainSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 7:  Outfielder Andre Dawson of the Boston Red Sox prepares to drop his bat and run during a game against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California on July 7, 1993. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Allsport)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Excuse me, loyal reader, as I go on a bit of a rant this morning.

On Tuesday's addition of Around the Horn on ESPN, writer Jay Mariotti won the day's pseudo competition and was awarded his 30 seconds of face time.

He chose to use this time to exclaim how he didn't vote this year for Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

He said that none of the players up for the first time deserved to get in on the first ballot, and that was reserved for players like Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwen.

That's fine, Jay. That's your opinion. But the way I look at it, if someone is good enough to be in the Hall of Fame (of any sport, not just baseball) then why not vote for them in their first year of eligibility?

It's writers like Mariotti, who make this voting process all about themselves instead of the athletes, that cause players like Jim Rice (in baseball) and Art Monk (in football) to have to wait to get in, when they should have been in from day one.

It's not just Mariotti, though. It's also sports writers like Peter King and Dr. Z. (Paul Zimmerman) who will say things like, "Oh, his stats say he should be in the Hall of Fame, but he just didn't have that flash on the field for me to vote for him."


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The Hall of Fame should be one of the easiest things to vote on. You take the player and his stats and compare them to others at that position in that player's era.

Was that player one of the elites of his era?

If you answered yes, then vote yes.

Nothing else should be looked at. Hell, I even think comparing players of different eras isn't the right determination either.

Mostly because in different eras of sports you have different rules and different players. Those things matter. They change the way the game is played and stats are compiled.

A hitter in today's game shouldn't be compared to Babe Ruth for a number of reasons. In Ruth's time, the strike zone was so small, to get a called strike the pitcher would almost literally have to put the ball in the sweet spot for a hitter.

Now we have larger strike zones, so the pitcher has more of an advantage than he once did.

In football, the rules are more geared towards offense. It wouldn't surprise me if, on a whole, offensive stats are greater and defensive stats are lower when compared to players from 20 or 30 years ago.

The fact is this, writers relish that they get to vote for the Hall of Fame. It's their chance to shine and make it all about themselves and not about the athletes.

Each year for the pro football Hall of Fame, we see more of Peter King than we do highlights of those nominated.

Part of me feels these writers are getting back at the jocks who picked on them in high school. They see athletes as those bullies, and they have been given a magic wand to decide who gets in and who doesn't.

I have felt for years that the voting process has been out of whack and needed to be revamped.

Mostly, I feel that the players in the Hall of Fame should be the only ones voting. They alone should choose who gets in and who doesn't.

They played the game, they know how hard it is to become an elite player. They'll take into account the intangibles that writers either don't see or ignore, in order to be the center of attention.

So Jay, you didn't vote because the players in this year's pool were not worthy enough to go in on the first ballot. 

For your egotistical arrogance to go on television and announce this, you should be stripped of your voting privileges because it's obvious that you, who wrote that the Indianapolis Colts have no integrity, have none yourself.

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