The Hall of Fame Shutout

Not being one to beat a dead horse (unless, of course, it deserves to be beaten), the 2013 Hall of Fame voting went down just as many anticipated it would – a shutout. As a result and for the first time since 1996, there will be no induction speeches in Cooperstown this summer.

For only the 7th time in its 77-year history, the BBWAA failed to elect anyone into the Hall of Fame.(Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

For only the 8th time in its 77-year history, the BBWAA failed to elect anyone into the Hall of Fame.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

In spite of what will undoubtedly be intense efforts by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson to “fluff up” the 2013 induction ceremonies of the three long-since passed (but well deserving) inductees voted in by the Veteran’s Committee, it’s probably safe to assume that attendance for this year’s induction ceremonies will be the lowest in many years. Now this is not to say that Cooperstown isn’t a great tourist destination any time of year (except perhaps during the dead of winter), as it most certainly is; and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an absolute must-see for every true baseball fan or enthusiast. But chances are pretty good that for the first time in a long time, you might actually be able to get a room within 100 miles of Cooperstown in mid July for a change. (By the way, I highly recommend the Lake View Motel).

Like many, I was disappointed that neither Craig Biggio nor Mike Piazza received enough votes from the archaic BBWAA voting system as they most certainly should have; and also like many, I believe that said voting system needs a serious overhaul. However, I heard one argument after Wednesday morning’s non-announcement on MLB Network Radios’s ‘Inside Pitch’ that was actually quite compelling in support of the shutout vote… sort of.

As you might imagine, the 2013 Hall of Fame shutout was the hot topic on MLB Network Radion 'Inside Pitch' hosted by Casey Stern and Jim Bowden.Photos courtesy of 123people.com & ESPN.com)

As you might imagine, the 2013 Hall of Fame shutout was the hot topic on MLB Network Radio’s ‘Inside Pitch’ hosted by Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. (Photos courtesy of 123people.com & ESPN.com)

A gentleman named George, who is apparently a frequent and well-respected caller to the show, adamantly supported the BBWAA’s decision of voting nobody into the Hall this year by saying that the blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) for doing absolutely nothing to try to eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs, thus allowing the ‘steroid era’ to continue completely unchecked for years.

When show hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden challenged George’s position by saying “So you’re saying that just because Craig Biggio was a member of the union he doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that he ever had anything to do with PEDs?” To this George replied: “Was Craig Biggio a member of the Union? Did he or anybody else in the union ever drop a dime to report the widespread use of PEDs in their sport to the MLB or to anyone else?” George added that he understands that nobody wanted to be a snitch, but because no one stepped forward, including Craig Biggio, the use of PEDs was rampant in the MLB for for over a decade until serious testing finally began in 2005. As much as I hate to admit it (because I still believe that Biggio and Piazza deserved to get in to the Hall this year), George’s argument holds some water.

I’m certainly not going to say that I agree entirely with George’s position here, but I can’t say that I totally disagree with him either. While I agree with Stern and Bowden that it is neither right nor fair that Biggio bear the entire brunt of the players union’s ineptitude solely on his shoulders, if you look at the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame non-vote as a calling out or a protest of the MLBPA for their many years of turning a blind eye to a very very serious problem, then there is certainly an element of credibility to what George and the BBWAA are saying here.

As expected, George’s comments generated a flood of phone calls to ‘Inside Pitch’ – some quite intelligent and others that were way out there. But what really got the sparks flying was when Jeff Idelson himself was a phone in guest on the show. Let me start by saying that I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jeff and for the Hall of Fame (I actually met him on my first visit to Cooperstown); however, Jeff absolutely toed the company line when Bowden cornered him about still using a voting system that was created in the typewriter era of 1936 in the computer era of 2013. To this, Idelson basically tried to laugh it off by saying “I still have an old Corona typewriter in my basement,” which is as much of a non-answer as I have ever heard.

Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson did a tap dance around Stern and Bowden's questions during a live interview after Wednesday morning's non-announcement.(Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson did a tap dance around Stern and Bowden’s very direct questions during an interview on ‘Inside Pitch’ after Wednesday morning’s non-announcement.
(Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

To his credit, Idelson said that the Hall would be open to suggestions on how to improve the current (1936) voting system, but was quick to add that any such change(s) would require approval of the Hall’s Board of Directors. Unfortunately Idelson immediately followed up this statement by saying that the Board of Directors fully believe in and support the current voting system, which contradicts his comment that they would be open to suggestions to improve it. Needless to say, the oft outspoken Bowden said that he would be submitting a list of suggestions to Idelson in the very near future.

All of this leads back to an article that I posted here on ThinkBlueLA over a week ago regarding the Hall of Fame voting results of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA), of which all of ThinkBlueLA’s writers are members of. In that article (and more so in the comments related to it), I expressed my opinion that at some point in time, the IBWAA (or something similar to it) would most likely one day be incorporated with the current BBWAA system of voting for baseball’s top annual awards and the annual Hall of Fame inductees. Now I’m certainly not going to say that something such as this will happen anytime soon, but mark my words, it will eventually happen.

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6 Responses to “The Hall of Fame Shutout”

  1. OldBrooklynFan says:

    I’m disapointed that Piazza didn’t get in. I didn’t expect them to vote in Bonds, Clemens or Sosa etc, but I thought at least one or two of those who there is no positive proof that they took any PEDs or HGH would get in.
    I’m sure they can’t keep all players that played in the ‘steriod era” out and eventually will begin to start voting more for players that were never found guilty of taken the drugs.

  2. KSparkuhl says:

    It’s just the “old boys club” being the “old boys club.” For whatever reason, they don’t feel compelled to change the way things have been… in their opinion, it ain’t broke. Nothing will change until the Hall can acknowledge there is a problem with the way players are voted in.

    The Hall may change, one day, the criteria for allowing some of the elite writers on the internet to join the old boys club. It’s my opinion however, that we’ll never live to see the day when the IBWAA will be allowed a voice in Hall of Fame voting. The status quo will remain just that; as long as it creates controversy, the BBWAA can feel vidicated for their “superior judgement.”

  3. Evan Bladh says:

    The BBWAA has stringent membership guidelines that I believe requires its writers to be engages in baseball related journalistic pursuits for a minimum of 5 years. I know we have talked about the IBWAA membership requirements in the past Ron. They are quite liberal . Essentially, anyone with a baseball blog can join, though I must say that the membership rolls contain a respectable group of writers. However, I don’t think the Hall will come close to recognizing us, unless a more stringent membership vetting process is instituted. I know it’s a rather sensitive subject…so I won’t address it further, but I do plan on writing Howard about it.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      I agree wholeheartedly, Evan; which is exactly why I added that “(or something similar to it)” thing.

      While Howard’s concept and vision are (in my opinion) outstanding and cutting-edge stuff – one that I honestly believe will someday be adopted by the HOF, but as it stands right now with his extremely lax membership criteria, I am convinced that it definitely will not be the IBWAA – at least not in its present form.

      And it’s definitely not a sensitive subject with me. You know better than anyone what my thoughts are on the IBWAA, from which I keep it in its proper prospective. That said, I applaud you on your plans to write Howard about it – Lord knows he didn’t want to hear what I had to say about it.

      Incidentally, the point of this article was definitely not about the credibility of the IBWAA, but rather a plausible (and perhaps even acceptable) explanation as to why the Baseball Writers Association of America voted as they did. I encourage input in that regard.

  4. Evan Bladh says:

    Interesting note in your piece about Jim Bowden. Coincidentally, Bowden became the newest member of the IBWAA today. It was announced this afternoon on their Facebook page.

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