The Rule 5 Character Clause in Hall of Fame voting either works too well (by keeping certain players out) or not well enough (allowing players with mediocre careers in in-luau of others being kept out).
The all-time hits leader (Mr. Peter E. Rose) won't be in the Hall of Fame.
The all-time home run leader (assuming that's where A-Rod's highway leads him) won't be in the Hall of Fame.
The man who broke Hank Aaron's career record (Barry Bonds) won't be in the Hall.
The man who broke Roger Maris' single-season record (Mark McGwire) won't be in the Hall.
The man who was once the winningest right-handed pitcher of the live-ball era (Roger Clemens) won't be in the Hall.
The man with the most 60-homer seasons in baseball history (Sammy Sosa) doesn't look like he's headed for the Hall, either (Stark, 2009).
Throughout the history of Hall of Fame voting, the voters have not had consistency. Allowing certain players in that have violated the Character Clause would be a fine resolution if the voters allowed all of the players in (that deserve to be there statistically, of course). If one is kept out, they all should be.
Some of the players that are being kept out which have put up statistics that may merit induction are Dave Parker, who was involved in a drug scandal, and Steve Garvey, who was involved in a cocaine scandal, two paternity suits with two different women who weren’t his wife, dodging bills, and more.
Cheating is cheating; it can be used in any context and still be considered immoral and unethical. Sometimes it is easier to gain perspective when one steps back and looks from the outside in.
How would a college react if they found out that one of their recently graduated students cheated, and how would they react if they found out that one of their current undergraduate students cheated?
One can suppose that the undergraduate would face tougher discipline than the graduated student with the exception of work references, if a potential employer calls.
The undergraduate may be dismissed, which is what happened in Virginia a few years ago. “An 'alarmingly large fraction' of the first-year class of economics graduate students… were involved in a cheating incident… At least one student found answers for a course taken by all first-year students, and apparently shared the information with classmates (Epstein, 2005).”
The final result, “there is only one punishment available for students caught lying, cheating, or stealing: 'permanent dismissal from the university' (Epstein, 2005).” There was no suspension with a stern warning for some students, nor did the honor committee, “made up of 23 students (Epstein, 2005),” sort through and compare GPA's of the students involved and dismiss the charges of undergraduates with a GPA close to 4.0. “The overall idea is that the strict honor committee enforces the overall community of trust that governs the university (Epstein, 2005)” If the committee believes that a former student was involved in cheating, “we would still pursue that student (Epstein, 2005).”
If ultimately a graduate ends up being caught as an accomplice in a cheating scandal who makes the determination of what to do? Does the school call the employer and tell them of the transgression? Does the school take the degree away? While it is obvious that cheating in school and the extent of cheating in baseball are nowhere near each other, there remains no difference between the fact that both are altering the outcome of a desired result.
Nobody gets a free pass to graduation if they broke the character and integrity code, they are dealt with strictly and harshly. In baseball, the Hall of Fame voters pick and choose who they believe lived up to the standards of character and integrity, whether or not the player did.
The Hall of Fame voting committee has used their own opinions of what cheating is and who broke the Character Clause in past elections to vote, and voted for who they believed performed at a Hall of Fame level. If the Hall of Fame was not as opinionated and traverse as it is then some of the players with statistics similar to those in the Hall of Fame would have passage into the bonds of everlasting baseball immortality by a more balanced judge and jury.
In order to have a more proportional voting process there are suggestions that have already been mentioned, however, there are standards that should be set for the voters.
Right now, people get a vote by being a member of the BBWAA for at least ten years.
Once that happens, it does not appear that you can lose your vote at any future point. Meaning, even if you stopped attending games in the 1980's, you still vote. Whether or not you step in a press box, you continue to get a ballot and can send it in. Even if you send it in blank. The only way non-members get to vote is if their market has no members. Then, one writer (or editor) is given a vote for the Hall of Fame (Hager, 2010).
A good change can be that if baseball writers still receive a vote the ten-year requirement should stay in place but put a time limit on the voting capabilities. A voter should remain a voter for 25-years and then have their vote for current Hall of Fame candidates revoked and placed into the Veterans Committee. Alternately, once a voter retires they can only vote for the next ten years. By doing this, the writers would have a more accurate vote; there are too many voters that compare players from different eras.
It is impossible to judge greats like Babe Ruth against modern players today. The competition and skill level simply is not the same as it was then. Therefore, all we can do is judge them against who they played against and determine whether or not they were worthy of being considered elites of that period (Hager, 2010).
How about including teammates, managers, and opponents of the candidates since they have the best experience when it comes to playing baseball.
ESPN Magazine interviewed 100 Major League Baseball players in March 2010 and asked these pertinent questions (Ain, Clemmons, & Knight, 2010):
Should Barry Bonds be in the Hall of Fame? The results were, “67% felt Bonds deserves enshrinement. 'He's one of the greatest hitters ever,' says one veteran infielder.” However, 32% said “'No way… he juiced out of his mind.”
On a typical 25-man roster, how many players do you think are taking PED's? “Fourteen players declined to answer… 1.2 guys per dugout-which would mean 5%” It continues that none are taking steroids, but, because of no blood test for performance enhancers some are using HGH (Ain, Clemmons, & Knight, 2010).
The results show that the players know more about what happens during a game (pre- and post- as well) than the writers, so leaving them without a Hall of Fame vote may seem incredulous to some.
Even Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt had something to say about the voting process. He sent an e-mail into the radio show Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN which they read (Greenburg, Golic, & Schmidt, 2010). It said,
Baseball writers should not have the final say in Hall of Fame voting. Never should have. Some honorable committee of baseball associated people, including selected, elected, Hall of Famers representing each era should have the final say on whose achievements are worthy of entrance into their fraternity. The Baseball Hall of Fame is the most exclusive sports fraternity in existence and its legitimacy going forward should be in its own hands…
This exclusive committee can do the reverse; create a list of ten finalists for the writers to vote on. (Greenburg, Golic, & Schmidt, 2010)
One of the hosts of the show, Mike Golic (Appendix C), answers with,
I just want the best people in position to vote on this. If its a committee like this, great… is it as simple as laying down their stat sheet… comparing to other Hall of Famers and saying 'Yay' or 'Nay'… If it’s as simple than that then you can get anybody to vote for the Hall of Fame… Is it a stat sheet that plopped down that says yea, he compares favorably to other Hall of Famers… yea, he is in the club. (Greenburg, Golic, & Schmidt, 2010)
One of the most important things that Golic says is if the voters have not seen them play “then you can't comment on their character or anything outside their stats (Greenburg, Golic, & Schmidt, 2010).”
Mike Greenburg (Appendix C), the other host, chimes in with,
Context. You need to take someone's career achievements and put them in the context of which the era that which they played… that will determine whether someone is worthy of inclusion in what Mike Schmidt calls it 'the most exclusive fraternity in the baseball world (Greenburg, Golic, & Schmidt, 2010).
Buster Olney came up with the best option yet, similar to what Schmidt had to offer, “The Hall of Fame should form its own committee that determines who gets a plaque (Olney, 2010).”