A Brief Proposal for Hall of Fame Voting by Carson Cistulli January 6, 2015 Because I’m a baseball weblogger and because certain members of my family and community are aware that I’m a baseball weblogger, some of them have asked me — and others will likely ask me at some point this week — “Hey Carson Harrington Cistulli, what do you think about the Hall of Fame voting?” Why they continue to refer to me by my full name remains a mystery. With regard to their question, however, my answer is generally something along the lines of “Hmph.” Not particularly satisfying, I recognize. So far as takes go, it is decidedly frigid. As a member of the BBWAA, I’ll theoretically be invited to answer this question in an official capacity about eight years from now. (I don’t think that will actually happen, as all signs indicate that my admission to the Association was the product of a clerical error. For the moment, however, I’ll proceed as if it weren’t.) If and when I receive a ballot for the Hall of Fame, I’ll dedicate sufficiently careful scrutiny to such an endeavor. Even then, though, the notion of baseball writers taking so active a role in the election of players to the Hall — and, worse, both forming and urgently sharing strong opinions about their ballots — will strike me as a curious exercise. One finds, for example, that Barry Bonds is unlikely to enter the Hall of Fame again this year. What Bonds’s feelings are regarding that, specifically, I lack sufficient ambition to look up. It’s difficult to conceive of a scenario, however, in which Bonds dedicates the same sort of energy to the merits of his candidacy as a non-negligible portion of the working media. Barry Bonds is undoubtedly aware of the fact that he was excellent. He was compensated handsomely for his services and had the pleasure of playing on some strong teams. Also, like everyone else, he’s going to die someday and none of this will matter. The point is, either denouncing or championing Barry Bonds probably is less about aiding Barry Bonds and more about… I’m not sure, precisely. Maybe appealing to some abstract notion of capital-J Justice? Whatever the virtues of the cause, I’d argue that the volume of the outrage represents as much an attack on civility as the original offense. And yet, there’s some virtue in the baseball community gathering to acknowledge formally both those qualities which make an exceptionally talented ballplayer and the individual ballplayers who embody those qualities. For that reason, I would propose a methodology not unlike the following, which, while not eliminating altogether the possibility for handwringing and outrage among voters and the public, I think reduces the opportunities for moral grandstanding and shrill pronouncements. To wit: Use JAWS or a JAWS-like system to determine a threshold for Hall of Fame admission. Players who’ve recorded a JAWS-type score above that produced by the average Hall of Famer at the relevant position receive provisional admission to the Hall of Fame. Members of the BBWAA with Hall of Fame voting privileges nominate other players whom they believe, for one reason or another, deserve consideration for voting. (Limit X nominations per writer, where X probably isn’t higher than five or so.) All members of the BBWAA with Hall of Fame voting privileges then receive a ballot with two kinds of player: those who’ve received provisional admission and those who’ve been nominated for consideration. Voting members are then given the opportunity to place two kinds of vote: a “No” vote for those players who’ve received provisional admission and a “Yes” vote for those who’ve been nominated for consideration. With regard to those players who’ve received provisional admission, if they receive “No” votes from 75% or more of the electorate, they are not admitted. With regard to those players who’ve been nominated for consideration, if they receive “Yes” votes from 75% or more of the electorate, they are admitted. In either case, players would retain eligibility for consideration for X years, where X is probably five to ten. There are probably certain flaws to this proposal which I’ve failed to consider. There are a lot of things I’ve failed to do in my life, so this isn’t shocking. What this method would do, however, is to reduce the electorate more to a custodial role, where the only real decisions they make occur in such circumstances as a player has performed such heinous acts that his otherwise overwhelming argument for election must be rejected or, alternately, where a player has distinguished himself in such a way as is not immediately apprehended by the numbers.