The Baseball Hall of Fame has revamped its Veterans Committee many times in the past several years. Mostly because its committee of veterans has had a bad habit of, you know, not electing anyone, and what’s the point of having one if no one ever makes it in?
And yes, this is a bit of a problem. There are twice as many players in the Hall of Fame who debuted before 1950 as compared to afterward, despite there being nearly double the eligible candidates after 1950 than prior. So, no, this is not a matter of folks wanting to hand out participation trophy versions of a Hall of Fame induction. It’s a matter of electors baselessly raising the standards of induction far too high compared to past precedent, most likely because they misguidedly believe that players from the sepia-toned “Golden Age” of baseball were more worthy than players of a more recent vintage. Which is pure poppycock.
So, last summer, the Hall of Fame’s board of directors tweaked the era-based system the Veterans Committee had been using for several years, adding a couple of separate, era-based dedicated committees. Now there are separate committees for Today’s Game (1988-2016), Modern Baseball (1970-87), Golden Days (1950-69) and Early Baseball (1871-1949). As befitting their underrepresentation, Today’s Game and Modern Baseball will vote twice every five years, Golden Days once every five years and Early Baseball once every 10 years. Committees consist of 16 people, with a vote of at least 75 percent needed for election. Committee members can vote for 10 candidates per ballot.
This year the Today’s Game candidates will be up for consideration. Here are the candidates who will be considered when that committee meets next Monday at the Winter Meetings:
- Harold Baines
- Albert Belle
- Will Clark
- Orel Hershiser
- Mark McGwire
- Davey Johnson
- Lou Piniella
- John Schuerholz
- George Steinbrenner
- Bud Selig
Yes, some of these guys straddle the Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras. The Hall just makes a choice with ’em, so we’ll let it slide.
Given that it’s likely to be a slow week, news-wise, I’m going to deal with these guys in two ways. First, here, I’ll give a kneejerk vote based on no new research and only the impressions I’ve formed of them over the years. Then, between today and Friday, I’ll look at each of the candidates in greater depth and with a more open mind. On Friday, we’ll talk about who the committee likely will vote in and see how that compares to our assessment of merit.
The short, kneejerk answer for me, doing no new research, would be to vote for McGwire, Schuerholz, Steinbrenner and probably Davey Johnson. Bud Selig, who I once called Baseball’s Greatest Commissioner, is a super complicated case. At the moment I’d lean no for a lot of political reasons, but we’ll deal with him separately.
What say you? And why?