One Easy Solution To Hall Of Fame Mess: Keep Ballots Anonymous, Period.

Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer? That is very debatable, but Schilling has no shot with some voters.

It's that time of the year.  The Baseball Writers Association of America casts their votes for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.   In the steroid era, each passing year is more and more tumultuous.  Ballots were due by the end of December 31, 2013 for the Hall of Fame class of 2014.  As ballots are continually published, anger from the baseball fanbase grows.   Here's my solution: keep all ballots anonymous.

Today brought about a really intense backlash about one decision made from a Hall of Fame voter, Ken Gurnick, who is the Dodgers beat writer for decided to not only publish the ballots of their writers, but give them a paragraph to explain their ballot.   

Here's Gurnick's ballot and explanation:

KEN GURNICK, Dodgers beat reporter

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them.

I must question whether Gurnick would make such a statement if he was not making a statement.   Why do we need to know what his ballot contained or why do we need to what he thought?  

Twitter went wild with responses:

Craig Calcaterra of NBC's Hardball Talk called Gurnick "lazy" and "willfully ignorant":

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports rushed to Gurnick's aid:

Granted, Gurnick's vote will be balanced by reasonable writers such as beloved Philadelphia writer Paul Hagen, who covered the Phillies for the Philadelphia Daily News for many years.  Hagen's approach is a "Who am I to judge?" response:

PAUL HAGEN, national reporter
Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Glavine, Maddux, Morris, Piazza, Raines, Smith

The logic remains unchanged: A Hall of Fame vote is too important to use guesswork about whether a certain player did or didn't use PEDs. As a result, the approach here has been to vote for the best players of their era regardless. What is different is that there were so many qualified candidates that the informal rule of thumb about limiting the vote to four or five had to be ignored. And that still left off some worthy of consideration.

I find Hagan's conclusion reasonable.  I do not find myself needing to judge Gurnick's character or decide if he is a person of general good will or not.  But I do not necessarily need to know about it, either.

It makes for a good story to share one's ballot.  I am not a personal fan of Gurnick's vote.  I really feel that Greg Maddux (whose career as Calcaterra points out overlapped Morris' for nine seasons) deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.  If the ballots are kept anonymous, then no one would know the statement that Gurnick is trying to make.   Gurnick (and all other voters) could make their statements anonymously.  If enough others agree, the results of the ballot will tell the true story. 

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