There’s a Bob Dylan song called “Who Killed Davey Moore” about a boxer who died in the ring. It’s a true story, and the song seeks to find the person responsible for Moore’s death. The answer, after several verses, is that many contributed to it, even if no one person was culpable in a criminal sense. That blame is best laid at the feet of many who, however innocent themselves, worked in concert with others, however unwittingly, to allow a tragedy to occur.
Craig Biggio not making the Hall of Fame — missing by just two votes — is, by no stretch of the imagination, as serious as a boxer dying in the ring. But the blame dynamic is the same. You want to blame someone or point a finger but, in reality, many people’s mistakes and ignorance and the simple unfortunate arrangements of rules and incentives worked against him. If I were Llewyn Davis or someone I feel like I could write a similar, albeit far, far worse, song about it than Dylan did about Moore.
Who killed Craig Biggio’s chances at a Hall of Fame induction this year? A year in which he fell two votes short? Take your pick:
- The one voter, according to the BBWAA website, who submitted a blank ballot has some responsibility. Not submitting a ballot at all doesn’t hurt candidates, as the ballot is not added to the denominator when percentages are figured. But a blank ballot does. Someone out there, in the interests of making a point, made the hurdle for Biggio higher.
- Ken Gurnick and Murray Chass helped. The former’s “Jack Morris and no one else” ballot and Chass’ belief that everyone besides Morris, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine took roids worked as votes against Biggio too. Obviously, it’s possible that these guys would not have voted for Biggio even if they weren’t tilting at their particular windmills. Maybe they do not think Biggio took PEDs (well, Chass does) and maybe they just think 3,000 hits and everything else Biggio did was not good enough. But I’m guessing, absent the protest, they have a hard time explaining leaving Biggio off his ballot.
- The novelty voters are fun to look at. Here are some players who received votes: Eric Gagne, J.T. Snow, Armando Benetiz and Jacque Jones. Snow and Gagne got two each! I hope against hope those votes didn’t come from guys who otherwise filled their ballots. The idea that crazy votes like that precluded a the two votes Biggio needed for induction is horrifying.
- Deadspin? I think their buying a vote for pranking/criticism purposes and allowing their readers to vote was kind of inspired, but I do hope that (a) the Deadspin readers picked Biggio; and (b) the person who sold their vote wouldn’t have voted for him if they did not. UPDATE: WHEW! Deadspin revealed their voter: ESPN and the Miami Herald’s Dan LeBatard. The Deadspin voters did vote for Biggio.
- The ten-vote limit: this is a bigger thing, of course. There are many voters who filled out ballots, 1-10 but would have but Biggio on it if they had, say, 11 or 15 votes to give. There really is no rational reason for a ten-vote limit, and the fact that there is one does nothing to elevate the Hall of Fame and everything to do harm.
But really, this is a Davey Moore situation. No one wants to screw Craig Biggio, I presume. But the rules, the vendettas, the ignorance that is encouraged and in some cases venerated and many other factors lead us to a situation in which a player who stands head and shoulders above many others already in the Hall of Fame must stand on the outside looking in for at least another year.
It’s not tragic like Davey Moore, but it’s still kinda sad.