After the Hall of Fame returns for their inaugural year, we are left with a lot to think about. What does it mean when players have a chance at getting back into HHoF? How will this affect future games and design? There is still plenty more to learn on this front.
The “hall of fame baseball 2021 inductees” is a list of the players who are to be inducted into the hall of fame in 2021. The list was released by MLB earlier this year.
The Baseball Hall of Fame was intended to be a tribute to previous players and their accomplishments when it was founded. But, over time, the Hall’s voting process has turned into one of sports’ most consistent sources of venom, with the tabulation and dissection of individual votes taking over two months, and an often-aggressive argument fueled by social media.
The results of this year’s election won’t be released until Jan. 25, but we already know that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame in year, their 10th and last year of eligibility on the writers’ ballots. We already know that Curt Schilling, who came within 16 votes of being elected last year, will get fewer votes this time. Although longstanding third baseman Scott Rolen is polling high, David Ortiz may be the only player on this year’s list to win election.
It’s likely that the slow bleeding has sapped some of the pleasure from what was intended to be a joyous occasion.
Josh Rawitch is in his first year as president of the Hall of Fame, and he admitted in a chat on Wednesday that there are still issues about whether the voting process might be improved. He said that he told himself that he would complete the cycle for a year before evaluating it.
Baseball’s Hall of Fame voting generates more discussion than any other major sport’s. Aside from debates over individual players’ talents, the noisy debate over whether or not players tied to steroids should be inducted has raged for the greater part of two decades. However, thanks to the efforts of one fan, the yearly debate unfolds in a manner that no one could have predicted.
Ryan Thibodaux started tabulating votes in 2014 to estimate Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell’s prospects of getting elected to the Hall of Fame, as he said in an email response to a direct message. Thibodaux was a lifelong Astros supporter. “I wanted to better understand why he fared so badly in his first couple of years on the ballot,” Thibodaux wrote. “I began to see the efforts of others who were collecting ballots at the time, and I ultimately concluded that I could contribute.” In other words, a spreadsheet with additional information and bells and whistles.
Thibodaux has a lot of data to study because of how the Hall of Fame process works. The ballot for the Hall of Fame is usually released around the end of November, and some writers, in line with the long-standing tradition of baseball voting, disclose their votes very immediately — in the past, in newspaper columns, and now, on social media.
Thibodaux gathers and examines the results meticulously, with some voters mailing their votes straight to him for collation and distribution.
Thibodaux has received slightly more than a third of the votes as of this writing. To be chosen, players must appear on 75 percent of votes, and Ortiz, Bonds, and Clemens all poll higher than that.
But, because to Thibodaux’s meticulous work, and the way he compares each ballot to each voter’s voting history, it’s clear that Bonds and Clemens won’t get nearly enough votes. If either player is chosen later this month, it will be more than a Dewey vs. Truman stunner; it will be more like Kanye West winning the president.
Bonds was listed on 248 of 401 votes, or 61.8 percent, last year. It was just 53 votes shy of being elected. Bonds had only added two extra ballots among those returning voters, as Thibodaux highlighted in his study of the votes made public so far this year. This is much less than he needs. Many journalists are ready to vote for athletes despite suspected ties to prior use of performance-enhancing drugs, but a little more than a third of the voter base has indicated that they will not.
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Clemens received 61.6 percent of the vote last year, 54 votes short of election, and his campaign has only received two extra ballots of support from returning voters, like Bonds’.
Final year, Schilling received 71.1 percent of the vote, and any candidate so close to election on the eve of his last year on the ballot has been pushed over the finish line with extra votes in the past. According to Thibodaux’s tabulation, Schilling’s vote percentage has plunged to far under 60%, with at least 15 returning voters deleting him from their ballots.
Rawitch, like tens of thousands of other baseball fans, is keeping track of Thibodaux’s progress and observing how the outcomes are essentially known before the official announcement. “I can’t tell whether I believe that’s good or negative for the Hall at the time,” Rawitch remarked.
Even Ortiz’s candidacy, which may be the only triumph on the ballot this year, is fraught with controversy. Some voters have noted that they have struggled with how to account for the 2009 New York Times news that Ortiz tested positive for PEDs in 2003, before MLB imposed punishments. Bonds and Clemens have traditionally done better among the initial wave of votes made public in Thibodaux’s daily ballot counting in previous years, only to have their percentages drop substantially when the whole set of results is disclosed. It remains to be seen if Ortiz’s vote will follow a similar pattern.
After Rawitch was elected president, Hall of Fame librarian Jim Gates gave him a 1939 article detailing the vote process’s controversy. There’s always going to be controversy, no matter what anybody says, Gates told Rawitch.
Moving ahead, the Hall must consider if there is a better means of announcing entrants.
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