Deadspin believes that the voting process for the Hall of Fame is ridiculous, so to try and “make a mockery… of the process” they set out to buy votes from BBWAA members, and they got one taker. They’re not sure what to do with that vote from here, nor will they announce whom sold them the vote until their vote has been cast and decided upon by Deadspin readers in some format. For those newer to the way things work in terms of which people get to vote and then some, Baseball Reference explains things pretty well:
Votes are cast annually by BBWAA members with 10 or more years of membership. Each qualified BBWAA member may select no more than 10 names from a pre-screened ballot of players who played in MLB for at least 10 seasons and had been retired for at least 5; players whose names are cast on at least 75% of the ballots are elected to the HoF, while players named on fewer than 5% of ballots are dropped from future ballots. In addition, if a player has been on the ballot 15 times without being elected, he is also dropped from future ballots.
Writers, once they get this privilege to vote, can retire, move on to another sport, and still vote for which players they think are fit for the Hall of Fame. It wouldn’t be to anyone’s surprise that an older vote may be comfortable in their ways of player analysis, or that a vote from a writer that has been detached from baseball due to retirement or covering another sport/subject would lose some touch with the changes that go on within baseball analysis. Last year there were 569 ballots casted, not including those that may have abstained or forgot to send in a ballot. These vote counts do include those men (women are generally just starting to get their HOF ballots so we know how they’re using their votes) that have decided they’re taking a stand against baseball for whatever reason — steroids, the game not being what it used to be, whatever their narrative is. You can see why baseball fans may be frustrated with all of this and why Deadspin has decided to try and take a stand. Deadspin will certainly not buy all the votes out there, but the precedent they’re setting is dangerous to what’s left of the reputation of the Hall of Fame.
What’s going to stop other companies, other news outlets, from buying a writer’s vote if they really wanted? It would probably take a lot of money, but there are quite a few companies out there that have stupid amounts of money and I’m sure they’ve spent their money on some stupid things before, and so that’s why I don’t think buying a Hall of Fame vote is out of the question for some institutions. Even if, hypothetically, you have 10% of the vote made up of sponsored votes, that’s 10% of writers selling out even though they gave so much of their life to covering baseball. Giving writers the right to vote and to watch them sell it off seems dirty. The same kind of dirty some people feel about steroids, about betting on baseball, about doctoring a baseball. Much as our opinions will differ on those latter topics, I believe Major League Baseball should take away any writer’s vote for life if it’s found they have sold it off. One and done. There’s enough bad analysis out there declaring what is Hall of Fame and what isn’t, I’d like to see anyone that’s willing to take someone else’s money to influence their vote have their ballot taken away.
Update: Apparently the Hall of Fame can decide on those kinds of consequences:
Quick point: the BBWAA does not choose or have power to exclude other groups from the HOF voting process. The HOF does.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) November 27, 2013
Maybe your opinion isn’t as strong as mine on this, but should there be consequences for a writer selling their vote? Make your voice heard in the comments below!