SAN DIEGO — The Baseball Writers Association of America met this afternoon and, among its other business, it has voted to recommend that the Hall of Fame ballot increases from 10 players to 12.
Color me less than impressed.
For one thing, it’s just a recommendation, and the Hall of Fame has not always been eager to take the recommendations of the BBWAA or listen in any substantive way to its complaints. Often it makes its own changes which, however well-intentioned, make matters worse, not better.
For another thing, that recommendation is not going to make a big difference. As I noted the other day, two years ago only 22% of ballots contained a full ten-player slot. Last year, with perhaps the most stacked ballot of all time, only 50% of voters submitted full ballots. If you increase the number from 10 to 12, great, now you get a couple hundred ballots that go from just less than half full to a bit more than a third full. Whoop-de-do.
More generally, the recommendation doesn’t impress me because it’s so damn small a recommendation. Which means either (a) people in the BBWAA don’t think there is much of a problem with the Hall of Fame process that it needs substantial change; or (b) people in the BBWAA just don’t know how to negotiate with an unreasonable organization like the Hall of Fame. You want two slots added? Ask for five. That’s how negotiation works.
What would’ve been great to see? Derrick Goold’s recommendation for a binary ballot to be adopted. Or — and this would not require a recommendation at all but, rather, internal change from the BBWAA — an alteration of the composition of the electorate. An electorate which, now, consists of scores of people who do not write about baseball at all and have not for years. Sometimes decades.
Hell, if they tried to do that today, it probably wouldn’t have had big opposition. After all, none of those people are here covering baseball’s biggest offseason event or involving themselves in any way in today’s discussion of Hall of Fame voting procedures.