Even worse than defending Politico...I'm going to sort of defend HOF voters. Really.
1. Some scrubs get a handful of votes -- this time, Eric Karros got two and David Segui got one. You know what? It's a silly use of a vote, but as long as it's not taking away from real votes...who cares? If some baseball writer wants to do a favor to David Segui, it's not going to affect who gets in and who doesn't.
2. A more serious issue: the first ballot thing. Some writers believe that being elected on the first ballot is a special honor, and so they vote against "ordinary" HOFers (such as Roberto Alomar or Barry Larkin) the first time around. You know what? It's not a bad idea! Baseball fans have long talked about "inner circle" type HOFers (Mays, Mathewson, Bonds) vs. regular HOFers (Perry, McCovey) vs. mistakes (Drysdale...what, you thought I was going to talk about Ross Youngs?). So some voters have tried to find a way to make that distinction. Again, as long as it doesn't affect who goes in and who doesn't, so what? I don't care if Alomar has to wait a year. The only problem here is that if all voters followed this practice, then marginal guys would get kicked off the ballot after one year. So: the HOF should either tell writers to cut it out, or they should adjust the rules and keep everyone on the ballot for a minimum of two years.
3. Another complaint that I hear a lot is: why should Dawson get in this year when he didn't get in last year, if his career didn't change over the last year? Again, I'm not too upset by this. HOF voting is an honor, one that I would take very seriously if I ever had the chance. But you know what? The voters aren't fans like me; they're sportswriters, most of them (well, these days, many of them) with full time jobs. Many of them also aren't experts on baseball history. So, if they decide to focus carefully on the guys who have a real shot to get in...again, I don't see the harm. Faced with a 26-player ballot, if a pressed-for-time voter decides to ignore the guys who he or she isn't sure belong, but is sure won't make it this year, I really don't have a serious objection. If the entire voting pool did that, then I'd say the HOF should get another voting pool. But, again, if it means that a voter makes a provisional decision against Dawson five years ago, and then decides to revisit it with an in-depth look once Dawson gets close to enough votes, well, it works well enough for me. My sense is that it probably hasn't changed any in/out decisions, just pushed them back a few years.
Now, I think it's a joke that the voters don't recognize how good Rock Raines was and it's too bad that they overvalue Jim Rice, Dawson, and (alas, I'm afraid) Jack Morris...I won't defend them for that. And I certainly won't defend them for their arbitrary and stupid behavior towards Mark McGwire. But the ballot stuff? I think they take a lot of grief that's undeserved.