A follower on Twitter asked about whether the new rule for complete transparency in the Hall of Fame voting, adopted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of American, will increase the possibility of the first unanimous selection.
Last winter, Ken Griffey Jr. was elected into the Hall with the highest percentage of votes ever cast for one candidate. Four writers didn’t vote for him, and to this day, none in that minority has ever come forward to explain the rationale for not casting a ballot for a player who finished his career with 630 homers, 1,836 RBIs, 1,662 runs, an MVP Award and 13 All-Star selections.
There are some reasonable explanations, most notably the Rule of 10 -- the ballot limit that has increasingly created a crunch of candidates as the logjam of steroid-era players has graduated through the process. Maybe one or more of the writers who didn’t vote for Griffey believed that he or she should apply some seniority, and opted for candidates who had been on the ballot longer, like Alan Trammell and Lee Smith. Or maybe a voter decided that given Griffey was going to be an overwhelming choice, he or she preferred to cast a ballot for someone whose candidacy needed help.
Either way, we still don’t know who didn’t vote for Griffey or why. Those voters have chosen to remain in the shadows, and starting next year, that will not be an option, thanks to the suggestion of Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The change is important. That a union of journalists would legitimize secrecy over transparency was nothing less than institutional hypocrisy, a terrible look for the writers. The vote for this alteration in the process was completely one-sided, not surprisingly.