Baseball should give the Hall of Fame induction its space

Yesterday, the Baseball Hall of Fame had its inductions. Due to COVID protocols and the oft-delayed nature of the ceremony because of the pandemic, it happened in the middle of a weekday, with few games going on.

And that, to be honest, is how it should usually be. Well, not the weekday part, and certainly not the pandemic-related stuff. The bit where it is goes on with few if any games going on, though? That needs to happen from now on.

Baseball, alone among the major sports, is unique in that it has its inductions usually happen while meaningful games are also happening. It is often on a Sunday, when most of the league is playing.

While this is perhaps unavoidable due to the fact that baseball is a summer sport and thus would have to vastly change its induction ceremonies to hold it during the offseason (presumably using some sort of indoor venue with far less capacity), it is an odd look for a sport that holds its history so dear. It also isn’t very fan-friendly, leaving fans to have to choose whether to watch their favorite team play or see the greats get inducted.

That has to change.

Now, it should be noted that any such change would have to be done by agreement between MLB and the HOF. Despite popular belief, the two are separate from each other- MLB doesn’t run the HOF, although it certainly does have some influence and provides some funding, board members, etc. Still, such an agreement can likely be made.

In general, Sundays are day games for MLB teams, with the exception of the two that are selected for the ESPN game. But why not, for one day every year, have everyone play Sunday night? To make it up to the players, perhaps the Monday after can be an off-day or at least have a drastically smaller schedule (perhaps only featuring matchups of teams that didn’t have to travel far). Agreements, of course, would have to be made with ESPN and other rights holders, but during the middle of summer (which is normally when HOF inductions happen, as opposed to the strange September date this year) sports networks have more flexibility.

Alternately, they could have it be on Saturday, when more games are held at night anyway so only a few would have to be moved. But then again, having the inductions on Saturday wouldn’t make it much of a weekend.

Regardless, something should be done to give the inductions more of a spotlight. It’s what the Hall of Fame deserves, it’s what the inductees deserve, and it’s what baseball deserves.

Under the new Baseball HOF eligibility rules, the following players wouldn’t have been voted in

A new set of rules at the HOF makes the 15-year eligibility period only 10 years (players who already are past the 10 years will be grandfathered in). Besides making it that much harder for Tim Raines to get to 75% in time, this also makes one wonder who in the Baseball HOF voted in by the writers would have not been voted in under the new series of rules.

I checked, and these players wouldn’t have made it (of course, many of them may have ended up getting inducted by the Veteran’s Committee):

  • Harry Heilmann
  • Bill Terry
  • Rabbit Maranville
  • Dazzy Vance
  • Gabby Hartnett
  • Red Ruffing
  • Ralph Kiner
  • Bob Lemon
  • Duke Snider
  • Bruce Sutter
  • Jim Rice
  • Bert Blyleven

And now you know…

The tragedy of today’s HOF voting: Kenny Lofton being dropped

Yes, nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame today, meaning that the only people going into the Hall this summer will be long-dead old-timers. It is sad to see Biggio and Piazza not get in when their connection to the steroid era has been innuendo at most, and for returning candidates like Bagwell, Raines and Jack Morris not to get in either (although Morris, at least, is more of a iffy pick to start with).

But want to know what the true tragedy is? Kenny Lofton just being dropped from the ballot entirely, only receiving 3.2% of the vote, just behind Bernie Williams (who also deserved to remain on the ballot).

Now, I’m not saying Kenny Lofton is a Hall of Famer. He isn’t, but he is not a player who should have been dropped after his first appearance. After all, he was, as I was growing up, a near-constant presence in baseball, seemingly always making the All-Star Game, winning a Gold Glove, or leading off for a playoff contender… and this was after his best years. In 1994, for example, he may well have had a chance to get the MVP if not for the season being cut short. He is 15th in career stolen bases.

In other words, he shouldn’t have just been dropped from the ballot. He never should have been a major threat to make the Hall, but he should have gotten his 15 years on the ballot.

I’ll have another post later on the Hall of Fame.