The secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA discusses the organization's purpose, its relationship with MLB, and membership eligibility.
The Baseball Writers Association of America is a big part of the game, and Jack O’Connell is a big part of the BBWAA. The organization’s secretary-treasurer since 1994, O’Connell is not only involved in the decision-making, he also serves as spokesperson and coordinates the annual awards and Hall of Fame balloting. A member of the BBWAA since 1975, he is a former beat writer for both the Mets and Yankees. O’Connell talked about the history and objectives of the BBWAA, along with a variety of the organization’s issues. Among them: their relationship with MLB, membership eligibility—including the inclusion of internet-only reporters—and the Hall of Fame voting process.
Two men finally get their due in Cooperstown, while several other qualified players are locked out.
Our long national nightmare is over. On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, two overwhelmingly qualified candidates who missed gaining entry from the BBWAA last year by a combined 13 votes. Both cleared the mandatory 75 percent threshold with room to spare, with Alomar drawing 90 percent of the record 581 votes cast during his second year on the ballot, and Blyleven garnering 79.7 percent in his 14th year of eligibility. They'll join Pat Gillick on the dais in Cooperstown, New York on July 24.
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Players who set the bar high in their rookie seasons naturally have a harder time meeting expectations as sophomores.
A quick glance at the recent fortunes of last year’s Rookie of the Year hopefuls reveals that bringing home the hardware is far from a guarantor of future success. Of those receiving votes in the American League, victor Andrew Bailey, runner-up Elvis Andrus, and fourth-place finisher Jeff Niemann have used their successful starts as springboards for continued or heightened success. However, 2010 has been less kind to the other AL tyros who earned some November lovin’ from the BBWAA. A mere eight months ago, Rick Porcello was mowing down the Twins in the Metrodome as the Tigers’ season entered overtime; now he finds himself sporting an ERA over five (Skill-Interactive and otherwise). Gordon Beckham and his TAv below the terrible twos (.196, to be precise) have earned Ozzie Guillen’s ire (a distinction sharedbymany), and Brett Anderson, all but christened Cy Youngster prior to the season, may have pitched his last.
A review of the best candidates at every position among the eligibles for the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee ballots.
One of the great things about having an intelligent and inquisitive readership here at Baseball Prospectus is that interacting with our readers often yields strong ideas for articles. Case in point: during last week's chat in which I discussed JAWS and the Hall of Fame voting results, loyal reader and long-suffering Orioles fan TGisriel lobbed an article idea right into my wheelhouse:
Digging through what the outcome of this year's Hall of Fame voting means for those elected, and those still waiting to be.
We've reached the dog days of January, the deadest of dead spots on the baseball calendar. Free-agent signings are few and far between, trade activity is nearly non-existent, and a vast, bleak expanse of winter weeks still separates today from the renewal brought by pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. And it's also the time of year for one particular ritual, because no matter how long I prolong my post-BP annual, post-JAWS series hiatus, inevitably I'm left to pick through the Hall of Fame voting results before moving on to other topics.
A humble proposal of a more equitable and efficient voting process for induction into the Hall of Fame.
Just 23 names dot the 2008 Hall of Fame ballot, the smallest number in history. That's mostly a fluke owing to the vagaries of when careers begin and end, which players come back for an extra season or an extra few weeks, and which don't. Rickey Henderson, the only first-time-eligible player with a snowball's chance in hell of being elected-and who will be this year-would still be playing if he had a choice. We've also seen a lot of players slip off of the ballot quickly in recent years, as the five percent rule for staying on becomes a tougher barrier to clear as the electorate grows. That rule will claim most of this year's new entries as well.
The latest iteration of the Veterans Committee gets replaced, and Craig Biggio's place in history.
Baseball fans have had no shortage of major stories to follow in the past two weeks, from the pursuit of major milestones to the trading deadline and its impact on numerous great races, to the Hall of Fame inductions of the eminently popular Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. As such, very few people aside from the eagle-eyed Rob Neyer caught the news from the Hall that the Veterans Committee, charged with screening and voting for players who have fallen off the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot, is being revamped again. It's certainly downplayed at the Hall of Fame's own site, where scintillating headlines like "Induction Weekend memories will last" and "Historic weekend will long be remembered" jockey for position and drown out such matters.
Joe has a suggestion regarding what to do about a body that has long since served its purpose.
There was a considerable hue and cry when the results were announced. This rejection of all the candidates was interpreted as a failure by the committee. That it was the third in a row inspired calls for a new process, one that would lead to someone being honored each time through. This is nothing new; the loudest voices in criticizing the Hall and its processes have generally been the supporters of players not yet enshrined. The discussion is driven by people who want a larger Hall, if only by one.
The newly-constituted Veteran's Committee takes its third look at the Hall-of-Fame ballot, and if they don't elect Santo and Co. this time, says Jay, it should be "three strikes and you're out."
In 2002, the Hall of Fame revamped its Veterans Committee. Formerly, it was the freight-elevator entrance to the institution for those unable to enter via the red-carpeted front door of the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. Out went the old 15-member voting body, a group which included baseball executives, writers, and former players. That group annually conducted its dirty work behind closed doors, outside of which nobody knew who was up for election, and unless someone received 75 percent of the vote, nobody knew any results. With the process completely opaque and with accountability nil, cronyism and senility abounded, and errors that diluted the honor of election to the Hall were made. Legend has it that the Veterans Committee (or VC) elected the vastly inferior Waner brother, Lloyd, in a case of mistaken identity. For that among other reasons, I say good riddance to a flawed system.
In its place is the new VC, a body of 84 eligible voters: 61 living Hall of Famers, 14 Frick Award recipients (broadcasters), eight Spink Award recipients (writers), and one "old VC" member whose term hadn't expired. The new VC uses a voting process analogous to the BBWAA's: a pre-screened ballot made public before a decentralized vote conducted by mail, with the results made public afterwards, and 75 percent of the vote required for election. The vote is held in odd-numbered years for players, and in every other odd-numbered year for nonplayers (managers, umpires, executives). The pool of potential honorees is determined by a panel of 60 BBWAA writers (two for each major league city/team) plus a board of six Hall of Famers; my colleague Steven Goldman turned a jaundiced eye on the new process last fall.