Chris Goltermann

Even in Braves' bliss, it's time to fix Hall of Fame's flawed voting system

For my father's generation, it's Gil Hodges. For mine, you can now add Jack Morris to a growing list that starts with Atlanta's beloved Dale Murphy.

As it is, and maybe ever shall be, somebody deserving is always left out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And while blemished through the opinions of baseball writers, each with unique thoughts about the unwritten criteria of what does and does not make a worthy candidate, the process of determining the game's greatest players can produce proficient results as it did Wednesday.

Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas - who will now enter the HOF together in 2014 - are all proof, in what will easily be the most celebrated induction for the Braves organization considering manager's Bobby Cox's added inclusion from the Hall's 16-member Veterans Committee.

But the Hall's voting process sure needs a major fix - and fast.

Like now.

The whole idea behind any Hall of Fame type achievement - sport or otherwise - is to maintain its merit as the pinnacle of achievements. It's what keeps comedies from dominating Best Picture at the Oscars, denies bands like Bon Jovi and Journey from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and prevents those with the closest links to alleged steroid abuse from the Baseball HOF.

Yet, I can probably make a case that 'Don't Stop Believin' is karaoke's greatest anthem just as I can justify that both 'The Odd Couple' and 'Young Frankenstein' were better than any other film released in their respective years.

I can't, however, come to terms with the Baseball HOF voting process anymore.

Wednesday's results spawned debate anywhere from trivial to exhaustive levels and in between for good reason. As it is, voters (all of which must be a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America for 10 consecutive years) can create ballots out of their own agendas or motives and their numbers now have reached well over 500 and counting.

Which is not to say that baseball isn't alone in its subjectivity either. Any time talent is judged in terms of greatness - whether its an Associated Press Top-25 ballot or a Times-Herald All-County team, opinions eventually have to come into play.

But the process used by the Baseball Hall of Fame is one where anarchy has reared its ugly head.

Miami Herald writer Dan Le Batard took it upon himself to give his annual ballot to Deadspin.com, with the sports website turning the selection process to an online poll.

Upon being revealed on Wednesday as the ballot's owner, Le Batard said his motives were as much to draw attention to a 'flawed process' while creating 'a little anarchy inside the cathedral we've made of sports.'

While the Frankenstein result wasn't abominable with the poll's top-10 including (in order of votes) Maddux, Thomas, Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martínez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Curt Schilling, should writers be able to take matters into their own hands - even when they're trying to 'protect the game?' Prior to Le Batard's disclosure, none received as much criticism as Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick for his ballot,.

His consisted solely of Morris, a four-time World Series champion, whose career ERA of 3.90 was even close to that of either Glavine or Maddux.

Gurnick's motive was to exclude any players from what is being called baseball's 'Steroids Era' a cloud that continued to deny Bonds and Clemens as well as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa or Rafael Palmeiro.

To Gurnick's defense, the New York Times reported that only 22-percent of voters filled out all 10 spaces on last year's ballot. Wasted votes are not uncommon.

Ironically, Biggio - with over 3,000 career hits during a 20-year career with the Houston Astros - fell just two votes shy of earning induction on his second try.

Taking into consideration that both Biggio and Morris fell short and players like Jacque Jones and Armando Benitez each were included on at least one ballot, there's something that stinks with the process - not to mention who's doing the voting.

Of the 500-plus voters this year, veteran broadcasters like Vin Scully - who's been with the Dodgers since their days in Brooklyn in the 1950s when Hodges, an 8-time All-Star, played first base - aren't included.

In turn, the process isn't broken as much as it's flawed.

A better fix would be to use the 500-plus ballots as a elimination process, cutting anyone with less than … let's say 40-percent of the vote.

The remaining nominees then go to a secondary vote comprised of current Hall of Famers, a league of veteran writers and a committee of others that would fit the resume and knowledge of the likes of Scully to participate.

Each gets a third of a final vote where 75-percent gets you in the Hall of Fame.

Would it work? Maybe no better than the current system in place. But it's worth shaking up as long as it continues to prevent Biggio, Bonds and Clemens from deserving spots in the Hall of Fame - even though I'd only be honored to shake hands with one of them.

Remember, it's not the Character Hall of Fame.

As for Hodges, Murphy, Morris and others still deserving, maybe the system will finally provide an opportunity for good players to be honored as greats as well under the basis of their play alone.

Baseball fans, like me, can only hope.



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