Buster Olney is abstaining from Hall of Fame voting


It’s no secret that the Hall of Fame voting process is broken. Let us count the ways:

  • The ballot has an arbitrary and purposeless limit on the number of players for whom voters can vote;
  • A backlog of overqualified players has resulted from voters casting their ballots on morality grounds rather than baseball merit in ways that never took place until a couple of years ago;
  • Players’ time on the ballot has been reduced, prejudicing players who are being squeezed due to the candidate backlog;
  • Worse than anything, the BBWAA grants voters lifetime voting privileges, regardless of whether or not the voter covers baseball now or has for decades, resulting in an electorate filled with scores and maybe hundreds of people who know virtually nothing about the candidates they are considering.

And now that set of circumstances has led one of the most knowledgable and qualified voters out there — Buster Olney of ESPN — to abstain from voting for the Hall of Fame. His reason? The 10-player ballot limit in combination with the backlog of PED users (for whom he normally votes) means that, rather then just voting on, say, Mike Mussina’s Hall of Fame merits, he is forced to choose between Mussina and, say, Randy Johnson, and thus Mussina is unfairly harmed. His view is that, if he does not submit a ballot, that’s one fewer without Mussina (in his case because Mussina is squeezed) which may, in effect, give Mussina a boost:

Maybe I should’ve figured it out last year, but this puzzle cannot be solved. There’s no way to judge each candidate strictly on his merits given the current ballot limitations, no fair way to vote.

I can’t stand the protest ballots we’ve seen in the past, when someone signs a blank ballot that counts as a vote against all candidates. That’s unfair. I’ve hated to hear the stories of voters who haven’t voted for a player because they didn’t like them personally. The voting shouldn’t be about the writer; it should be only about the players and whether or not they’re worthy of induction.

And I can’t stand the idea of casting a ballot that works against players that I think should be inducted, such as Mussina, Schilling or others. So as much as it has been an honor in the past to participate in the voting, I’ll abstain, and hope that in the future the rules change.

I’m not sure that I would abstain in his situation. I think any benefit the lack of an Olney ballot may bring is outweighed by the fact that there will be one less ballot with many worthy names on it, as his ballot always has. Does this help Mike Mussina a bit? Sure. But it hurts other candidates Olney routinely supports.

Still, I get his frustration. And I agree with him completely that the Hall of Fame voting process is broken and needs to be fixed.


New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.