Worst. Ballot.  Ever?

Normally I’m not one to pick on any BBWAA member for their ballots. Part of the great thing about Cooperstown debates is that there are so many different ways you can tackle the question of who deserves enshrinement.

How do you balance peak, prime, and career value? How much do you emphasize pitching or fielding or hitting? How much does postseason play matter? Baserunning? What do you think of character and off-field contributions? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So if a writer submits a ballot I don’t agree with, I almost always accept it, even if I don’t get it.

But ya know—there’s a reasonable point of view, and then there’s Barry Stanton’s point of view.

ESPN.com posted the ballots from their 18 Hall of Fame voters earlier today, and here are Stanton’s picks: Jack Morris, B. J. Surhoff, Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, and Edgar Martinez.

Fine players all of them. But . .. what? Here are some of the guys he passed on: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, Dale Murphy, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines, John Franco, Dave Parker, and Mark McGwire.

Is this some sort of anti-steroids ballot in which Stanton won’t vote for guys he suspects were on the juice? Does that mean he thinks Larkin, Alomar, and others juiced? Is he abstaining from Raines and Parker because of cocaine? If so, why not vote for uber-role model Dale Murphy?

More importantly, Stanton is the last guy who should be making any high and mighty moral claims, given that he had to resign from his previous jobs over plagiarism allegations. If he isn’t getting morally righteous with his ballot, I really can’t explain it. Frankly, I’m not sure I can explain it anyway.

The strangest vote in the bunch is the one I can find the best explanation for: Surhoff. That’s a token vote for a local kid. A poster named SoSHially Unacceptable at Baseball Think Factory noted that Stanton used to work for the Journal News in Westchester, NY, Surhoff’s home town. Normally those votes don’t bug me because they’re ultimately meaningless. Here it just amplifies how horrible the overall ballot is.

I’m not sure which is worse: Stanton actually thinks the guys he voted for are the best players on the ballot, or that he—a Hall of Fame voter—is so damn disinterested in voting for the best players to the game’s highest honor.

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  1. Chris J. said...

    I should note: the plagiarism fact came to my attention thanks to another BTF poster, Matt Clement of Alexandria.

  2. Pseu said...

    From the “plagiarism allegations” link:  “Numerous sentences and phrases in Journal News of Westchester sports columnist Barry Stanton‘s Nov. 2 column were identical or similar to those that appeared in Kansas City Star writer Joe Posnanski‘s Oct. 31 column”

    Gee, too bad he didn’t plagiarize Poz’s ballot.


  3. Geoff Young said...

    Are you suggesting that Surhoff was in some way inferior as a player to Alomar? Because if you are, that’s wrong.

    Surhoff was inferior in *every* way to Alomar.

  4. Matt said...

    There’s some who don’t want to “waste their vote” on those sure to get in. This is why we’ve never had a unanimous election. And it’s completely stupid.

  5. Matt said...

    Not trying to flood this page with comments, but where’s the Larry Walker love? I know he’s the 184th player more deserving than Andre Dawson, but dude was huge for the Rockies

  6. Chris J. said...

    “given that he had to resign from his previous jobs over plagiarism allegations.”

    That should just say JOB singular.  Plural was a typo.

  7. Kent said...

    Apoplectic here!  Tell you what “writers,” vote for me, I’m honest and treat my family well and played high school baseball and never took any PEDs.  Since “everyone” is a suspect to the evils of “cheating,” I can assure ESPN that I’m currently and have always been “clean” (minus a number of alcohol runs).  Thank you for your vote.

    ‘Cause when one of those bastard players cheats it only means one thing…they all cheat. 

    Does anyone else seriously wonder if half the “baseball writers’ don’t actually like nor watch the sport?

    (Thanks to Hardball Times for keeping me up-to-date.  Great content, as always.)

  8. Jack said...

    They really should give this guy’s vote to someone who appreciates the honor and is willing to respect the process. If he thinks the HOF is a joke, he should disqualify himself and quietly walk away.

  9. MikeS said...

    I agree that this guys ballot is a joke but given a large enough sample size of voters, something like this is bound to happen.  Since (for the most part) the deserving people get in, those undeserving do not and there are really only a few players that generate a few hundred columns each year (Raines, Fox, Morris, Blyleven, Santo spring to mind – some of those not even subject to this process).

    It seems that all discussions about “this guy doesn’t deserve a ballot” is something of a long run to a short slide.

  10. said...

    As time has passed, my opinion has softened a bit. They didn’t go as straw-heavy on the bags that made it to retail, and several of the non-straw bags are totally lovely.

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