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A Ballot so Stacked, No One Can Win

I love baseball. I love Cooperstown. I love following baseball, and I love seeing who has been nominated to the Hall of Fame every year. The balloting for the Hall of Fame is relatively simple: a player who played for 10+ years and has been retired for at least 5 is eligible for the ballot. If you get a vote on 75% of ballots, you’re in. You stay on the ballot for 10 years. If you receive less than 5% you’re removed from the ballot whether you hit 10 years of eligibility or not. Simple.

The First Class by Ron Cogswell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A Ballot so Stacked, No One Can Win

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

I love baseball. I love Cooperstown. I love following baseball, and I love seeing who has been nominated to the Hall of Fame every year. The balloting for the Hall of Fame is relatively simple: a player who played for 10+ years and has been retired for at least 5 is eligible for the ballot. If you get a vote on 75% of ballots, you’re in. You stay on the ballot for 10 years. If you receive less than 5% you’re removed from the ballot whether you hit 10 years of eligibility or not. Simple.

So that’s the basic ballot. However once you’ve missed the boat, you become eligible to the Eras committees — 4 committees who each take a turn once every 4 years to place players no longer on the ballot into the Hall. This year, it’s the Modern Baseball Era Committee (1970-1987)’s turn.

Guys, the committee system is a bloodbath. I mean it’s a certifiable cage match open to old grudges, bitter snubs, and other feats of pettiness and cruelty that has exactly nothing to do with the talent of the nominated player.

Oh and Major League Baseball is celebrating this reality TV show stunt as some kind of victory.

Here’s how it works. 10 people (9 former players and 1 former Players Association head) have been put on this year’s ballot. The committee comprised of 16 people will each have 2 votes to cast. In order to be successfully nominated into the HoF, one person needs to receive 12 votes. So the odds? Not great. How do you get in? Well either there’s gonna need to be a crazy campaign to try and swing votes your way, or you’re not. You’re just not. The list is far too stacked for any one person to receive a vote on 75% of the eligible ballots. Let’s look at who we’re deciding on:

Steve Garvey

Spent 19 years with the Dodgers and Padres, is a former NL MVP, a two time NLCS MVP, 10 time all-star. Plus he has 4 Gold Gloves, and was a certified stud in the postseason. In 55 appearances? .338/.361/.550 with 11 HR. Sounds like an HoFer to me. *claps hands together* okay, I think we’re done here.

Oh. Wait. You mean that’s only the first candidate amongst 10 overly solid options, and that if they are all so good that no clear winner emerges then none of them will get into the Hall of Fame?


Tommy John

Ignoring the fact that Tommy John is…well…Tommy John, do you automatically get into the Hall of Fame when the most common surgery in Baseball is named after you? No? Okay well then let’s talk other qualifiers. Twenty. Six. Year. Career. I say again. 26. 2. 6. What did he do in that 26 year career? Oh only threw 4,710 1/3rd innings, gained 288 wins, lead the majors in shutouts 3 separate times, and had a career ERA of 3.34. In the postseason? 2.65 ERA. What might keep him out of consideration? He never actually won a ring despite 3 pennants to his name. What should get him into the Hall of Fame? He’s Tommy freaking John.

Don Mattingly

Mattingly is an interesting nomination to the Hall of Fame, because he’s the first person to be nominated purely on the strength of their mustache. *ahem* uh, Ned…can we talk to you for a sec? Yeah editorial team of 3 up 3 down, what’s up? That’s…that’s not why he’s been nominated. Really? Have you seen that flavorsaver? Yes, Ned. Have you seen his career statistics? *reads* Wait. What? 6 time all-star, nine time Gold Glove recipient, 3 time silver slugger, AL MVP, and before all his back injuries was a .323/.368/.521 hitter? Plus sports a mustache that makes Tom Selleck hang up his hat in shame? Why is he not in the Hall of Fame already?

Oh crap. That’s only 3. HOW IS THIS BALLOT GOING TO ACTUALLY ELECT ANYONE?! Okay. Who’s next?

Marvin Miller

Former executive director of the MLB Players Association. He negotiated the league’s first collective bargaining agreement, and helped create Free Agency. This should get him into the Hall of Fame for literally bettering the lives of every baseball player since. He will probably not get in, because people suck.

Jack Morris

Look I love Jack Morris. Dude can not get into the Hall of Fame. He was on the ballot for a full 15 years, and at his peak won 67.7% of the eligible votes. Despite having 3 World Series rings, and the 1991 World Series MVP to his name, people just never seem to agree that he’s good enough for the Hall — 254-186 in his career with 2,478 strikeouts in 3,824 innings be damned.

Dale Murphy

Do we pick people for their game at the height? Or do we look at a career as a whole. Dale Murphy’s slide towards the end of his career was hard and in some ways a freefall. When he was on though? 7 time all star, 5 gold gloves, 4 silver sluggers, and 2 NL MVPs. Plus he lead the League in Home Runs and RBIs. Twice. That sounds like a hall of famer to me. Sign him up. Oh right, this ballot system still sucks.

Dave Parker

THE COBRA! THE. COBRA. Someone with that cool a nickname should be an automatic Hall of Fame lock. But he’s not in yet, so I guess we should talk about why he’s so cool. BECAUSE HE’S CALLED THE COBRA! *ahem* I get it, editorial team. I’m out of line.

Okay, Cob–Dave Parker. 2 World Series, 3 pennants, 1 league MVP, 2 time batting champion, 7 time all star, 3 time gold glove, 3 time silver slugger, and a .290/.339/.471 line with 2,712 hits, 526 doubles, 339 homers, 1,493 RBI, 1,272 runs and 154 stolen bases. Also his nickname is the Cobra.

Ted Simmons

There is one problem with the current ballot system, and that’s the fall off system if you get less than 5% of the vote. It seems like a good idea in theory but for Ted? It wrecked his shot at the HoF. His first time on the ballot he received 3.7% and fell off immediately. The problem with that? As an 8 time all-star, Simmons hit  .285/.348/.437 in 21 years. According to the other catchers with careers statistically most similar to Simmons? Joe Torre, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Yogi Berra. If you go season by season through his career? One name was statistically most similar every time. Ivan Rodriguez. If Simmons gets in? His 2,472 hits and 483 doubles puts him second in the Hall of Fame amongst catchers, behind only Rodriguez. Quite obviously deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Luis Tiant

As a Red Sox fan, I’m supposed to root for Tiant. As a realist I have to say, of all the people on this ballot, Luis is the least likely to get in. He pitched 3,486 1/3rd innings, and struck out 2,416 in that time. He was 3-0 in the postseason with a 2.86 postseason ERA, and was crucial in helping the Sox get the 1975 Pennant. No World Series rings though, which I think will mean there’s little to no chance of him getting 75% of the vote. But remember that one year he had a 1.60 ERA in the American League? That should be an instant qualifier in my book.

Alan Trammell

6 time all star, 4 time golden glove winner, 3 time silver slugger, MVP of the 1984 World Series (.450/.500/.800 – WHAT?!), MVP runner up in 1987, 20 years with the Tigers, all in all should be a baseball legend. Legends should be in the Hall of Fame. A career stat line of .285/.352/.415 with 2,365 hits, 412 doubles, 185 home runs, 1,003 RBI, 1,231 runs and 236 stolen bases? That’s insane. Why hasn’t he gotten in yet? Cal Ripken, Jr. played at the same time as him. Guess who got all the attention?

So these are the options in front of us? And of these 10 people, 12 of 16 of the voters have to use one of two votes on just one of them? That’s not going to happen. None of these 10 will get into the Hall of Fame unless they all just agree in advance to give it to one of them. Which would be criminal, because they are all insanely deserving. But alas, not a single one will get the Hall of Fame, and that’s stupid. This ballot system is stupid, Cooperstown. Fix it.

So let me ask you all this, then. When all is said and done and the dust settles, who are the Hall of Fames for? In all sports? Because when an NFL player gets a Gold Jacket? It’s exciting, but do the fans really care? No, there are current players and teams to support. It’s really about what it means for the person getting in. It’s not even like the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame where you can listen to Van Halen and realize to this day how deserving they are. No one is watching old MLB games starring The Cobra and thinking about how he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. So why would there be a ballot system at all? Sure it creates press, but it creates press that only the press cares about? I don’t care who’s on the ballot, I’m more likely to care when someone gets snubbed than when someone gets in. But to the person who got snubbed vs the person who got in? I bet it means a whole hell of a lot. Sports Hall of Fame recognition should operate on a “lean towards everyone” vs a “lean towards no one” policy. These Era Committees have to know that no one is going to win off this ballot. Everyone on there deserves in, and 12 of 16 people have to cast 1 vote for the same person? No way. So all 10 of them will be snubbed, and with Dave Parker suffering from Parkinsons, and Marvin Miller having passed away years ago, what possible reason would the HoF have to not let all of them in? And what is to be gained by this dog and pony show where none of these men get recognized for their greatness?

Also how did these 10 men end up on the ballot? I could write 10,000 words about other people from that era who deserved it as much.

Also best Mustache and best Nickname should be an instant criteria for acceptance. I’m going to start this petition now. Get on my level.

Ned is an Actor and award-winning Content Creator based out of Brooklyn, New York. Currently you can hear him as a voice actor on the podcast Encounter Party!, and as the host of the podcast At the Table: A Play Reading Series. Originally from Portland, Maine, Ned is an avid follower of all things New England, be it sports teams, breweries, seafood, or Cumby's. He spends most of his free time playing board games, listening to podcasts, and gawking at dogs on the street. You can learn more on his website,

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