The 2018 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductees will be announced tomorrow night (January 24th). I suspect it will be a relatively large class, with at least four players gaining enshrinement. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman seem like locks, while Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina will be close.

Those who have followed my work know that I have engaged in outsider-voting processes at Beyond the Box Score and for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). Two years ago when I posted my ballots, I concluded by saying:

Completing these Hall of Fame ballots each year is a lot of fun and I look forward to filling them out again next year.

I used to love getting into the weeds on the Hall of Fame election each year. Discussing it with friends, observing (and occasionally engaging in) the debates that happen online. But now, I just don’t find the process to be much fun. Perhaps as another deleterious side effect of the constantly raging dumpster fire that is Twitter, Hall of Fame voting has become another outlet for over-the-top outrage, shaming of people who are perceived to know less or think differently, and gross self-aggrandizing.

The incessant bullshit on Twitter is one problem, but it can fairly easily be ignored. The other issue is that the Hall of Fame is so awash in inconsistencies that it has ultimately rendered itself something of a joke. As an example, consider the Hall’s very public stance on steroid users. Their anti-steroids rhetoric folds in with the rest of the ludicrous upholding of the character clause as a bastion of morality and impenetrable barrier for evil-doers. But it is silly and applied haphazardly. In the Hall’s logic, steroid users are worse than the group of racists, womanizers, amphetamine-users, and other steroid users who have already gained entry. Why? It does not hold up to scrutiny. Nevertheless, the legend of the magical ball-go-far pills/needles of the 1990s continues unabated. When it is convenient to trot out the character clause the Hall does so, when it isn’t, they downplay its importance. Their wishy-washy ways have gotten bad enough that respectable members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have decided to abstain from voting until the process is cleaned up.

As another example, consider the recent election of ex-Commissioner Bud Selig. Selig was an active part of the collusion that took place in the late-1980s, had a leading role in the 1994 player’s strike, worked hard to implement measures (in-place now) that ensure money is kept away from players and stays in the hands of the owners, and was in charge of baseball during the ‘steroid era’ the Hall of Fame finds so abhorrent. Given these facts, it is ridiculous to be fine with bronzing Selig and be so vehemently opposed to electing greatest-to-ever-play candidates like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Speaking of collusion and players’ rights, why hasn’t Marvin Miller been elected? Miller, through his direction of the player’s union did, perhaps, more than anyone to help players get an equal(ish) stake in the revenue they generate by playing the game. He absolutely has to be enshrined in Cooperstown. But that remains not the case, and his death in 2012 ensured that he never got to experience an appropriate celebration of his importance to the game. It is shameful.

I could go on but fear I have already waded too deep into the waters of the self-aggrandizing Twitterati about whom I complained above. My message is simply that all of the nonsense surrounding the Hall of Fame and its processes have significantly reduced my caring about it and my enjoyment in discussing it each year. With that acknowledged, I will probably still fill out my outsider-IBWAA-ballots each year. And, despite all of the frustration I describe, I do look forward to taking my son through the wonderful exhibits in the museum, being there to watch him stare at the plaques of players that mean something to me, and seeing him consider the likelihood that his favourite players will be up there someday. I will also talk to him about what and who is missing from the walls and the remarkably silly reasons that are held up to explain why.

I recognize that my continued, although diminished, engagement with the Hall of Fame makes me part of the problem. After all, the Hall is not going to change if it can keep selectively celebrating the parts of baseball history of which it approves and see no change in entry fees or numbers of eyeballs on their website each January. I should be doing more than complaining here. I should be rallying for changes to the process (e.g., drop the character clause, implement an objective cutoff for automatic entry, give deeper consideration to the historical importance of non-players). I suppose that is something I will need to consider over the coming years.

Without any further adieu, here is the ballot I submitted to the 2018 IBWAA Hall of Fame vote:

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Andruw Jones
  4. Chipper Jones
  5. Mike Mussina
  6. Manny Ramirez
  7. Scott Rolen
  8. Curt Schilling
  9. Gary Sheffield
  10. Sammy Sosa
  11. Jim Thome
  12. Larry Walker

Note that the IBWAA voting process is slightly different than the BBWAA process in two important ways. First, the IBWAA limit is 15 players, five more than the BBWAA. Second, members of the IBWAA may elect players in a year that the BBWAA fails to do so. Therefore the players on the IBWAA and BBWAA ballots will differ. For example, in previous elections, the IBWAA elected Vladimir Guerrero and Edgar Martinez so these players were not on the IBWAA ballot this year, but they were on the BBWAA ballot.

If I had one, my BBWAA ballot would be as follows:

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Chipper Jones
  4. Edgar Martinez
  5. Mike Mussina
  6. Manny Ramirez
  7. Scott Rolen
  8. Curt Schilling
  9. Sammy Sosa
  10. Jim Thome

Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, and Larry Walker end-up victims of the 10-vote limit.

Update (January 24, 2017)

The results of the IBWAA and BBWAA voting processes are in.

The IBWAA elected Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Trevor Hoffman. Full results can be seen here.

The BBWAA elected Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman. Full results can be seen here.

Finally, today, Rob Neyer published an excellent piece about Marvin Miller and the need for the Hall of Fame to be better about considering the pioneering work of people like Miller. I recommend it.