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.
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.
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.
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.