Yesterday, ESPN asked all eighteen members of the BBWAA who work at the four letter and are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame to share their ballots. And just in case using a picture of Tim Raines in an A’s jersey wasn’t offensive enough, news editor Barry Stanton decided to include such head scratchers as B.J. Surhoff and Tino Martinez on his ballot, along with Don Mattingly, Edgar Martinez and Jack Morris.
My immediate reaction is to ask, “Who the [Getting Blanked] is Barry Stanton?” And while a horse’s ass may be the most accurate answer, the query is best served by asking additional questions, such as: Why does Barry Stanton have any say whatsoever in who gains admittance into the Hall of Fame?
A quick Google search reveals that Stanton worked for several years covering baseball for the Journal-News of Westchester, New York, . . . until about eight years ago when he was caught plagiarizing a Joe Posnanski column.
Accoding to a commenter on the Baseball Think Factory Newsblog:
Since he covered local sports in Westchester, his only connection to baseball consisted of writing about local prep players and following the Yankees, who are the team of choice for nearly everyone is Westchester. Therefore, he voted for Surhoff (local prep player), Mattingly and Tino (Yankee heroes), and Edgar (Yankee killer). He didn’t vote for Raines because Raines was mediocre in his late-career stint with the Yankees. Kevin Brown similarly didn’t resemble a Hall of Famer on the Yankees. Every NL player was a complete unknown and therefore out of the running. Of the remaining AL guys, he probably eliminated the ones with steroid connections and the ones who weren’t famous enough to register as Hall of Famers in his casual baseball fandom. That left Morris as the fifth and final pick.
While it’s admitted speculation, it certainly does appear as though a confirmed plagiarist, or cheater, is refusing to vote for players with steroid connections, presumably because he considers it cheating. As much as I’d like to crucify Stanton for his hypocrisy, after looking at his previous ballots, and without making light of mental illness, one must consider that there be a severe lack of activity in certain parts of the writer’s brain.
2010: Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, Pat Hentgen.
2009: Rickey Henderson, Jack Morris, Tommy John, David Cone
2008: Goose Gossage, Jim Rice, Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, Chuck Knoblauch
2007: Cal Ripken Jr., Jim Rice, Don Mattingly, Paul O’Neill, Jay Buhner
2006: Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Don Mattingly
2005: Wade Boggs, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jim Abbott, Chili Davis
If you sieve through the mess of names whose photographs don’t belong on a deli wall let alone in the most prestigious sports Hall of Fame in existence, you’ll see that Stanton has voted for Don Mattingly every year since 2005 except 2009 and that some years he believes Tommy John is a Hall of Famer, while other years he doesn’t see his merits. What happened in 2009 to make Mattingly temporarily unworthy? Why is Tommy John a Hall of Famer in 2005, 2006 and 2009, but not in 2007?
It’s somewhat sad that an organization would have a member that makes such an enormous mockery of everything that the very same organization supposedly stands for. Voters for the Hall of Fame would do well to turn their attention away from worrying about the influence of bloggers and other writers who dare to consider statistics, and instead look at the problems within their own ranks.
It’s seems quite simple, but two additional rules could go a long way to fixing this problem. For one, if you’re a confirmed plagiarist, you don’t get a vote. That should be pretty obvious. Also, if you vote for a player who doesn’t receive 5% of the overall vote, you should have to explain your vote to your local members.
Sadly, Stanton may not even be the most useless member of the BBWAA who still gets a vote for the Hall of Fame. As Craig Calcaterra points out in his own rebuke of the voters:
A lot of people marvel at the breadth of the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame electorate. There are guys voting there who haven’t covered baseball for years. One is a political cartoonist in Montreal. Another is a college football writer.
Once again, it’s mind blowing to me that these voters, who can take the use of performance enhancing drugs so seriously as to consider players guilty of cheating without any evidence whatsoever, would discredit themselves to such a large degree as to not only have a confirmed plagiarist among them, but to include journalists who don’t even cover the game whose legacy they guard so closely. Is it really too much to ask for a little bit of measured consistency?