Single Issue Voter: An Irritating Trend

Sooo friendly reminder, that it’s only November, and there’s still plenty of time for this article to age badly. I hope it does, because the fact that i’m even writing it is silly, but it’s a major “ism” of mine, and while I have many of these, this one really grinds my gears.

This. This silliness. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, allow me to elaborate. Every year, members of the BBWAA (BaseBall Writers Association of America) are given the all-important task of casting an official vote for players to be inducted into the hall of fame. It’s a task considered by many (me) to be sacred in the world of baseball. Here’s the parameters:

  • You must have been an official or ceremonial member of BBWAA for ten years
  • You are given the complete ballot, and can choose up to 10 candidates from the pool of eligible players
  • A player is inducted if they reach 75% of the total votes.
  • If a player drops below 5% of the vote, or fail to garner 75% by their 10th year on the ballot, they are ineligible henceforth, except for the “veterans committee”.

So what makes the above ballot so annoying? Is that it has been a trend of late for writers to decide that the most effective “statement” is to basically withhold their votes, and only cast a single vote. Here’s the thing that I feel like I should make perfectly clear: IT IS ABSOLUTELY THEIR RIGHT TO DO SO. THAT BEING SAID, IT’S STILL A SHITTY THING TO DO.

Induction to Cooperstown is what every kid dreams of. It’s the ultimate end game, the closest thing to immortality that the game has to offer. It’s not easy to get there, and to make this ballot is considered an honor by itself. It’s a heavy weight for writers to carry, having that much influence on a players career, after all that it takes to reach this point, and to some degree, i’m not even sure I would want it even if offered to me (which first, I can’t imagine it ever would be, and second… totally kidding, I would absolutely want it).

And yet…. those who wield such power decide to do this:

Really… you’re going to add that little tag line on top too?

OK, So… What’s the Big Deal?

There’s really two issues at play here. The first is the most pressing, and that is when they choose to forego their other votes, it deprives deserving players precious votes. Players like Andruw Jones, quite literally the greatest defensive center fielder of all time, who is fighting to stay on the ballot after logging less than 7.5% both years of eligibility. Or what if Larry Walker, arguably a better player than Derek Jeter that just happened to play for a less successful string of teams falls just short on his final year? There is a clear, tangible impact made by writers who choose to use this position to make some kind of convoluted statement. Jeter doesn’t need your help here, pinhead. He’s one of the most recognizable faces in sports worldwide, played his entire career for probably the single greatest franchises in the history of the world, and has seen more postseason baseball than just about anyone ever. I think he’ll be fine.

The second issue is the issue of the statement. I mean, is there REALLY nothing else that baseball has to offer between the All-Time home run leader? A seven time Cy Young Award winner? The two above mentioned players? The greatest single player in a young franchise’s history? The sense of self importance borders on astounding.

This is truly the greatest flaw in the Hall of Fame voting system. No, i’m not advocating for some sort of hard statistical line here. The human element is important, because it is a human game. It evolves with the society that created it, and it breathes just as the people who play it, watch it, and follow it. That’s not what I am taking issue with.

It’s fucking stupid. That’s what I take issue with.

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