If you’re not willing to reserve a place for players who meet or exceed the statistical standards of the average Hall of Famers at their positions, however — players like a Larkin or a Bagwell — the discussion really ought to turn to which players we need to kick out. No Barry Larkin? No Travis Jackson. No Tim Raines? No Max Carey. No Jeff Bagwell? No High Pockets Kelly. No Trammell and Whitaker? That’s fine: let’s boot Tinker and Evers.Ah, this gives me an excuse to trot out a goofy scheme I've been waiting to talk about for awhile: The HOF retention vote.
Here's how it would work. In addition to the current ballots, there would also be a chance, every year, to re-affirm that some HOFers belong. I'd use the regular electorate (in other words, the baseball writers), and have them vote. I'm not sure exactly how to set it up...I'd probably have them vote yes or no on each name on the ballot, and only give someone the boot if he fell below, say, 40% of the vote.
Who goes on the ballot? No one alive, certainly. I would organize current HOFers by the last date the played (or managed, or whatever). At first, do four a year. Stop that when we get to a 100 year cut-off. After that, just nominate HOFers as they reach the cutoff. So Max Carey's career ended in 1929 (elected to the Hall in 1961); he goes up for retention in 2029. I figure that a hundred years after his career ended, not only would the player be gone, but presumably his children are, too. Grandchildren? Fine, let 'em suffer.
Now, I suspect that very few, if any, HOFers would be bounced. To begin with, I'm sure some voters would think the whole thing was stupid, and automatically vote yes for everyone. Plus, if those grandkids or great-grandkids That's okay; actually booting anyone is only part of the fun. First of all, I'd do the ballot separately from the main voting, to further spread out the HOF season. And it would be great, wouldn't it? Baseball fans -- well, at least many of them -- would love to get into an argument over Candy Cummings, who would (I think) be in the very first class to come up for re-approval. Second, all those who are retained, which again is probably everyone, would be part of the induction ceremony. Why not? It's a great way to for everyone to get reacquainted with the great stories of (at first) 19th century players, and then on into the dead ball era.
And, you know, if it means that a handful of the worst mistakes are eliminated, all the better.
So, anyone like it?
By the way, I wouldn't worry too much about Jeff Bagwell; 42% on the first time around probably means he's on the pathway to being inducted before long. And I'm very happy to see Tim Raines moving up sharply, to 38%...I've always thought he was going to have a tough time getting in, but if he reaches 50% next year, he'll be in good shape. Looks like Barry Larkin is on his way in, too. That's all good news, as is the stagnating vote for Jack Morris.
Oh, and congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven. Excellent choices, and solid HOFers.