Bill and The Common Man from The Platoon Advantage make so much sense in their Rights and Responsibilities in Hall of Fame Voting post from over the weekend that the thing should be sent via certified mail to every eligible voter. Of their four rules for voting, the key, I think, is something I touched on in my Jack Morris/Bert Blyleven post last week: intellectual consistency.
Contrary to what some reactionary types will be saying in the coming weeks, there is no one who matters who seriously advocates some strict orthodoxy of who should be and who shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer and disdains all others who do not follow suit. I will disagree with a Hall of Fame voter if he votes for Jack Morris or Don Mattingly, for example, but I will not say they are stupid or irresponsible or wrong or out-of-touch or demand that their vote be taken away simply because they have voted for Jack Morris. It is their opinion. Unless they admit to the contrary — which some have, sadly enough — I will assume that their choice was a considered one. That they looked at the data available, made an informed choice and voted their conscience. Hall of Fame standards are broad enough that reasonable people can have considerable disagreement over who is a Hall of Famer and who isn’t. You like Jim Rice, I don’t. I like Tim Raines, you don’t. Unless your reason for voting for a guy is just really nuts — like a protest vote or it’s based on some narrow, random reason with no precedent whatsoever — it’s all good.
All that I ask is that those who vote do so in a consistent manner. That the standards you cite for Player A are applied to Player B. If — to use a current example — you excuse Jack Morris’ high ERA because of how you believe he pitched in blowout games, consider how Bert Blyleven pitched in blowout games and apply the same credit to his account. If you voted for Bruce Sutter despite the fact that his performance came while filling a newly-created and limited role in baseball history) (one-inning closer) don’t withhold your vote from Edgar Martinez simply because he filled a newly-created and limited role as a DH.* If you give Dale Murphy extra-credit because you believe he eschewed steroids when they were pervasive in the game, give the same credit to others for whom you have similar evidence regarding their drug use. Similarly, if you won’t vote for Tim Raines because of his admitted cocaine use, please, dear God, do not vote for Dave Parker.
Unless you’re going totally nuts and writing in Buddy Biancalana, there are no Right and Wrong Hall of Fame votes. There are right and wrong approaches to voting however. If you have the franchise, please, keep that in mind.
*Which is not to suggest that Bruce Sutter was a Wrong choice or Edgar Martinez a Right choice. It simply means that their role, in and of itself, should not be the basis for withholding a vote for one of them if you didn’t do so for the other. Rather, simply be sure that your choice is made by comparison to other who fill those roles. Is Bruce Sutter a Hall of Fame one-inning closer compared to others. Is Edgar Martinzez a Hall of Fame DH compared to others.