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January 3, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Baseball bloggers and mainstream media writers appear to agree on more than you’d think with Hall of Fame voting

UPDATE: 3:47 p.m.:The Mariners just announced that they have finally signed catcher Miguel Olivo, nearly a month after agreeing to terms with him on a two-year, $7 million deal. Anthony Varvaro, a late-season call-up by the Mariners as a right handed reliever, has been designated for assignment. Seattle has 10 days to trade, release or outright Varvaro to the minors.
There’s a group calling itself the Baseball Bloggers Alliance that recently undertook its own version of the Hall of Fame ballot. In the end, they wound up voting to send Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven to Cooperstown.
For me, that’s an interesting development in a year when I’ve heard plenty of writers suggest they’ll be putting the most names on their ballots that they ever have. The Baseball Writers Association of America conducts the official Hall of Fame voting. You get a lifetime BBWAA vote after 10 years of being a member. Believe me, the members do take this thing very seriously.
You can vote for up to 10 players each year.
My final vote (which I’ll make public tomorrow) contains more names than the bloggers alliance had on theirs. But that’s the beauty of the whole thing. We can agree to disagree and still be friends and continue to enjoy baseball.
In recent years, I’ve seen the BBWAA called all kinds of angry names, and accused of being “too exclusive”, or an “elite cabal”, or a bunch of “vindictive old men” for not voting in that particular year’s cause celebre. I’ve found the bickering about the Hall of Fame rather humorous at times. I’ve often wished we’d take real elections more seriously in this country and approach them with the same type of passion.
But anyway, for all the abuse the BBWAA members have taken (as if they get together in a small room and plan out their votes as a group) we have here a 250-member blog association that had a chance to rectify what some have seen as an injustice. To make the Hall more “inclusive” in a year when many voters are putting more names on their ballots than ever before. The association counts five Seattle area blogs as members, including Seattle Sports Insider and SODO Mojo.
And what did all of those nationwide blogs do?
They voted in the two shoo-in guys. And that’s it.
No Jeff Bagwell. No Edgar Martinez. No Tim Raines. No Fred McGriff.
They were close on some of these names. Maybe after another year or two of reflection, those names will get in. Just like in real Hall of Fame voting.
Do I have a problem with it? Nope.
My own ballot contained twice as many names, but that’s merely my opinion.
The thing about baseball’s Hall is, it’s a selective place.
In hockey, they let in every third-line center for a Stanley Cup team. Not so in baseball. There exists a wide spectrum of voters with varying ideas of what makes a Hall of Famer. And diversity of opinion is a great thing. It means there are very few borderline cases making it into Cooperstown. It means those players who are allowed in are there because they are deserved. Of that, there can be no doubt.
For the borderline cases that miss out, well, they are called borderline for good reason. Doesn’t mean they have to end up on the positive side of the border.
What did the Baseball Bloggers Alliance teach us?
Photo Credit: AP

That there is no “right” and “wrong” way to think when it comes to an opinion. And that there is no monopoly on the “consensus” opinion.
In the end, a group of mostly unpaid bloggers wound up choosing the same two guys the well-paid (well, relatively, anyway) BBWAA members will likely select to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. The fact that I agree with both of their choices, while disagreeing with some of their omissions, is hardly important.
What matters is that people from all walks of baseball life have varying opinions on issues that we all don’t agree with. And there is a fine line between promoting your own Hall of Fame argument and trying to bully others by calling them names or suggesting ulterior motives behind why they voted the way they did.
You can throw all kinds of stats at anybody to promote your argument and it still doesn’t give you the right to claim moral certainty. There’s a reason people tend to vote via secret ballot. It’s to avoid the type of “group think” and intimidation that can influence voters into casting a ballot they might otherwise not believe in.
We discussed this during the whole Felix Hernandez debate about the Cy Young Award. Just because some people did not vote for Hernandez, it does not make them idiots. If they want to keep placing emphasis on pitcher wins, it’s their perogative. It’s far preferable than having Hernandez win simply because a majority of voters were bullied into casting a ballot for him out of fear of being “outed’.
Nobody wants that. Not Hernandez, not the fans, not baseball history.
And nobody wants it in the Hall of Fame.
Fortunately, it does not appear to be happening here. Cooperstown remains the most hallowed Hall in all of sport because of its high standards for inclusion.
There are 15 years of eligibility on a ballot for a reason. If voters want to use up 14 of them making a call on somebody, it’s their choice. That’s why the system was set up the way it was. If you want more information about a specific area, so as not to include somebody you fear might be seen as a “mistake” later on, then it’s your choice as a voter. And nobody has the moral right to tell you otherwise.
And the absolutists, the group-thinkers and the new Puritans who would tell us all how we should think and act will simply have to get used to it. Because, it would appear, no matter how forceful they try to be, folks simply aren’t listening to them.
A large group of baseball bloggers from across the country was given the chance to be different and wound up having the same diversity of opinion as professional baseball writers.
We’re all people in the end. Push your Hall of Fame case all you want. Argue this particular set of stats over the next one. Just remember to treat those who think differently than you with the proper respect.
Because you never know who really agrees with you and who doesn’t. And those who would try to monopolize the “truth” as their own, tend to be the ones with the least secure grasp on it.



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