In 2009, thirteen-year veteran blogger Howard Cole had an idea. His idea was to change with the times and incorporate the World Wide Web into the seemingly stagnate process of determining professional baseballs’ greatest awards and honors – a process that has, for the past 77 years, relied solely on a group of veteran print journalists to determine who wins and who looses and who’s in and who’s out. (Note the word incorporate, not replace).
Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for print journalists and I am in awe by their many years of education (and dedication) in a field where a mere handful actually land jobs with some of the largest print newspapers and magazines in this great land of free speech. But the truth of the matter is that many members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who are entrusted annually with voting for the very highest of baseball awards and the ultimate highest of honors, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, no longer even cover baseball. Sure, they probably once did and probably did so exceptionally well, but once a BBWAA member has ten years in the brotherhood (so-to-speak), they are grandfathered in for life in the annual Hall of Fame voting – even if their current field of expertise is… say… real estate or botany (yes, I’m being facetious).
Howard Cole took what was the obvious, logical, timely and progressive next step when he created the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) and gave each of its members a full vote for the exact same awards and honors bestowed upon members of the BBWAA. And though the IBWAA membership numbers currently pale in comparison to those of the BBWAA, they are growing annually (and significantly), just as the world of social media itself is growing annually (and significantly). Additionally, there are quite a number of well respected and noteworthy members in the IBWAA, including print journalists, bloggers and other social media notables.
In this the fourth year of Hall of Fame voting by the IBWAA, and using the exact same voting criteria used by the BBWAA, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America have selected former Dodgers and Mets great (and first ballot candidate) Mike Piazza into the IBWAA Hall of Fame with an impressive 79.10% of the total vote; this in a year with an abundance of candidates who are either known or suspected to have used steroids during their careers.
Finishing second in the IBWAA Hall of Fame voting but falling just short of the requisite 75% was former Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, who garnered 64.18% of the vote. Finishing third and mired in controversy for his steroid use was former seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens with 52.24% of the vote.
The BBWAA Hall of Fame voting results will be announced on Wednesday morning at 11 AM (PT) on the MLB Network and there is some speculation and rumor that none of the 37 eligible candidates will garner the necessary 75% of the votes, thus limiting the Class of 2013 to the three Veterans Committee inductees - umpire Hank O’Day, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th-century catcher/third baseman Deacon White, all of whom have been dead for 74 years or longer. The last time such a Hall of Fame shut out occurred was in 1996 when the top vote getter was former knuckleballer Phil Niekro with 68.3% of the vote. (Niekro made it in 1997 with 80.3% of the vote).
Ironically, ThinkBlueLA.com’s 2013 ‘Peoples Choice Hall of Fame’ voting results, which were announced last week, also selected Piazza into their Hall of Fame with 74% of the vote, along with Biggio. Granted, the voting criteria used in the ‘Peoples Choice’ voting was significantly different than that used by the IBWAA and the BBWAA, but the top two mirrored that of the IBWAA voting, this in spite of the relatively small sample size. This certainly suggests that members of the IBWAA and followers of ThinkBlueLA are well informed when it comes to the game and to Hall of Fame voting.
Here are the complete results of the 2013 IBWAA Hall of Fame voting: