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An Open Letter to Peter Schmuck

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by user DNL

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more "on the DL" opinions
Dear Mr. Schmuck:

Today, over at The Baseball Analysts, you penned a column asserting that, especially given the steroid controversy raging in baseball, "the BBWAA is the proper body to choose the inductees for the most revered of the various professional sports halls of fame," and that "there is no one better qualified to do it."

I respectfully dissent. In fact, there are few who are worse qualified.

Voters in all regards -- be it for the Hall of Fame or the White House -- are charged with surveying the fast amount of information out there and making an informed decision.

A comparison to the Presidential election is instructive. Typically, in what has become an 18-month trek in which candidates make their merits known via countless stump-speeches, debates, press conferences, and the like.

The Hall of Fame election process, by and large, is void of this.

The Presidential election also has a number of journalists who, by virtue of what issues they cover, how they cover them, and in the case of editorials, how these players analyze the issues, help define the election process. Our language has adapted to recognize this fact, dubbing the certain members of the media as "opinion makers."

In the Hall of Fame context, though, this is ever-present. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) are the standard-bearers for sports opinion. You and your brethren dictate the tone and substance of the issues that we, the fans, discuss daily over email, at lunch, and at the water cooler. You spend your days writing articles that, you hope, will convince us that you are indeed correct. You are the "opinion makers" in our context.

To restrict the voting for President to this class of pundits is, for good reason, an absurd result. The same applies in Hall of Fame voting.

Mr. Schmuck, you and the other BBWAA writers pen sports editorials for the purpose of convincing us that you are right. If your arguments are strong, well-founded, and convincing, then it should not matter if you vote for Hall members or if a panel of fans does. Your points will carry the day. But if your arguments are weak, then why should they still be the basis for a vote? Why, pray tell, should the obligation be on us voiceless fans to convince you that you are wrong?

I am not suggesting that we should open up these elections to every Joe off the street, lest the Hall turn into as much of a joke as the All-Star Game. You are entirely correct that, by and large, the members of the BBWAA have acted as terrific gatekeepers over the years. That should continue.

The BBWAA should, in its effort to democratize the election process, choose regular fans as delegates. Allow people like myself to apply for the job of Hall of Fame voter. Give us the opportunity to demonstrate to you our resume of fandom, our knowledge of the game, etc. We watch game after game, crunch stat after stat, and root for (and against) players and teams year-round. We know the game backward and forward. We are perfectly capable of making informed decisions. And you are perfectly capable of identifying us.

Just don't ask us who we'd vote for. Let us approach that in our own way. Your job, again, is to frame the debate, and to convince us to vote one way or the other.

You already have the power of the media. You don't need the power of the vote. The fans need a voice. Don't keep all the power to yourselves.


Date

Thu 03/09/06, 10:13 am EST



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