The Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2015 — #21: A bunch of voters were kicked off the Hall of Fame rolls

Associated Press
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We’re a few short days away from 2016 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2015. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

Until this year, once a BBWAA member became eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame he or she got that vote for life. That meant that a great many voters who were no longer covering baseball — including many who never really covered baseball in a meaningful way — got a vote. Editors who oversaw baseball writers for a time. People who covered baseball for a few minutes during the Carter Administration but later went on to do other things.

As a result, a large portion of the Hall of Fame electorate was not comprised of experts in the field. Indeed, it was comprised of people who had less of a professional reason to keep up with baseball than many non-voters. It was just a club, really, out of which one could never be kicked despite their lack of engagement with the game. All the while getting to make baseball’s most important historic calls.

That changed in July when the Hall of Fame decided that BBWAA members who were more than ten years removed from actively covering the game would be taken off the voting rolls. It’s estimated that around 130 of the 650 active voters were removed from the pool.

Now that the dead wood is out, it’s possible that we’ll see some significant changes in the vote totals of some of the holdover candidates when results are announced for the 2016 Hall of Fame class next week. At least if the assumption that older voters are more likely to be harder on newer candidates or candidates with PED associations is true. This may not catapult Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens to Cooperstown, but it could give Tim Raines a decent bump in his second-to-last year on the ballot and could put Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza over the top and into the Hall.

Now, if the Hall of Fame would allow all BBWAA members to vote, and not just those with ten years of experience, we’d really be getting someplace. In the meantime, we’ll take this as a solid step forward.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.