Bank robbers, lawyers and corrupt politicians seem to be getting more favorable press lately than the gang I’m associated with.
I am a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and have a Hall of Fame vote. I say that with pride, although after the vote was announced and no one got in this year, I should probably say that with a whisper, not a shout.
See, while the economy is crumbling and some people are having a hard time making house payments and putting food on the table, there is still a red-hot passion and anger toward us BBWAA members and that’s good, I guess. In a weird way, the more people hate us, the more of a relevant diversion from the real world this vote is.
Here’s how it works. There were 37 guys on the ballot and 569 writers turned in a ballot where they voted for anywhere from zero to 10 of them. That list included some players who were heavily suspected to have used steroids and some who were rumored to have used them.
A candidate needs 75 percent of the vote to get in, which is pretty darn difficult. Just getting 75 percent of your friends or family members to agree on where to go out to eat is tough enough.
We’re talking 550-plus people with different backgrounds and ages scattered across the country and have differing philosophies about what a Hall of Famer should be. We’re not all in one big room hashing this out. We’re all at our homes in December trying to figure out which players are very good and which are Hall of Fame material. That’s as tough as figuring out a Christmas present for your spouse.
This year, I voted for Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Lee Smith, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker.
I’ll need more proof about steroid rumors on Bagwell and Piazza before I take them off the ballot and less proof about the allegations against Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro before I consider putting a checkmark next to their name in the coming years.
The process isn’t perfect. It is a vote. There is no clear-cut reason why my seven should make it or some of the other 30 shouldn’t make it.
People want to change the way the vote is conducted. Members need to be in the BBWAA for 10 straight years to get a vote. To get a BBWAA card you need to cover a major league team on a regular basis or be a columnist or sports editor of a news agency that does. So, yes, there are voters who may have never left the office to cover a baseball game in their lives who have votes. That’s a flaw.
There are some idiots in our little group, but we’re not all idiots. And if you are convinced we are, take this challenge:
Make about 100 copies of a ballot and take them to your favorite sports bars or watering holes. Ask your pals and other patrons who know baseball to pick zero to 10 of the 37 candidates and see if any of the players get 75 percent of the vote.
I’m guessing there will be zero Hall of Famers and plenty of loud arguments. (Note: This is your deal and I will not be responsible for any bloodied noses or broken teeth.)
Next year Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent and Tom Glavine are headlining the first-time eligible candidate list.
If the BBWAA pitches another shutout, maybe I will consider becoming a bank robber, lawyer or crooked politician.
A member of the BBWAA for the past 15 years, Jeff Vorva made his mark covering the Chicago Cubs from 1998 to 2007. He is currently a news reporter in the Palos/Orland area and a sports freelance writer throughout the south suburbs.