You may never figure out the three writers who left Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. off their Hall of Fame ballot. The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Monday that it would not publicly reveal ballots after the results are announced.
The news comes just hours after the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot was announced. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Johan Santana are among the biggest names to debut on the ballot.
It comes as a pretty big shock to anyone following the Hall of Fame proceedings. A few years ago, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voted to make all the ballots public. It was expected that would go into action in 2018, but the Hall of Fame stepped in and said it would keep the ballots private.
Again, this was not the writers’ decision. According to those who were present at the BBWAA at the time of the vote, the motion passed overwhelmingly.
This doesn’t mean that every writer needs to keep their ballots private. Writers are still allowed to publicly release their ballots. The BBWAA has a section on its website where writers can share their ballot if they choose to do so.
You’ll still likely see ballots revealed in the usual places. Some writers use Twitter, some write columns and many submit their ballots to Ryan Thibodaux — who tries to tally totals before the results are announced. You’ve definitely seen his name, and probably looked at his spreadsheet, around Hall of Fame time the past few years.
The Hall of Fame did not reveal its reasoning behind the decision, making the whole ordeal both disappointing and puzzling.
The writers voted to pass the motion because they wanted some level of accountability among their peers. In the situation outlined above — where some writers didn’t vote for Griffey — those people could choose to remain private. By making ballots go public, those writers wouldn’t be able to hide behind that vote, and could at least explain themselves for leaving Griffey off their ballots.
It’s not about personally attacking those writers, and we here at The Stew would advise against that. It’s about making sure those people provide some type of explanation for making egregious choices with their ballot.
In the end, things will remain status quo … and that’s mostly good. Many writers are transparent with their ballots. They explain their choices, even when they make controversial decisions.
But those few who buck common sense and then hide in anonymity will continue to be allowed to do so. Some voters are going to leave Altanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones off their ballot in the next few months, and the public will never know why.
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