Eras Committee Strikes Out in Picking Only One New Inductee
By Dan Schlossberg (Special from the IBWAA)
This article was featured in “Here’s The Pitch” the newsletter of the IBWAA and is shared with permission. This article was published in December 2023.
Proponents of a small Hall should be happy.
Jim Leyland was the only one of eight candidates from the Baseball Eras Committee vote on non-players after 1980 chosen for the Class of 2024.
Lou Piniella missed by one vote for the second time, while fellow world championship pilots Davey Johnson and Cito Gaston were basically left at the starting gate.
Umpires Joe West and Ed Montague probably split their vote, while long-time executives Hank Peters and Bill White couldn’t muster enough votes either.
This column has long insisted that the Cooperstown voting process — by both the reconstituted Veterans Committee and by the Baseball Writers Association of America — needs drastic overhaul.
Too many good people are bypassed year after year.
We’ll see what happens when the writers’ vote is announced late next month but the likely outcome is certainly less than a handful: Adrián Beltré as a first-timer, possibly Joe Mauer as well, and Todd Helton as the only holdover virtually certain to win approval, even though it’s the last chance for Gary Sheffield and his 509 home runs.
Carlos Beltrán, Andruw Jones, and maybe even the controversial Alex Rodriguez may improve their percentages and Billy Wagner could approach but not reach the magic 75 per cent.
Aye, there’s the rub: it’s just too difficult to attain that percentage when so many voters don’t fill out their ballots completely. If somebody turns in a blank ballot in protest of Pete Rose still sitting on the sidelines, the whole system collapses like a house of cards.
Ballots have 10 spaces because writers are supposed to fill them. Not because they favor election of all 10 candidates but because those 10 names are their priorities.
That would make it so much easier for several candidates to clear the bar and reach the sunny fields of the Clark Sports Center next July.
Personally speaking, I thought the new off-shoot of the old Veterans Committee would do better. Instead, it duplicated the sorry performance of last winter, when the committee considering players elected Fred McGriff but bypassed such deserving candidates as Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly.
Then the writers elected Scott Rolen, doubling the Class of 2023 to two and killing the usual Induction Weekend crowds.
The year before, the writers again picked only one: David (Big Papi) Ortiz.
Something — anything — needs to be done to break up the constipation of the process. At least that’s how it looks from here.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a strong advocate of a big Hall. Disagree?