Last week, the sports website Deadspin announced that it had purchased a Hall of Fame ballot from one of the Baseball Writers Association of America's voters, and it would allow its readers to participate in filling out the ballot, which would then be submitted by the anonymous BBWAA member. On Thursday, Deadspin publicized the process by which its voting would take place, and it's a surprisingly responsible one.
Starting on Friday, Deadspin will profile each of the 36 candidates on this year's ballot and ask its readers to vote yes or no on each. Every candidate receiving the majority of the reader vote will be included on the Deadspin ballot. However, if more than the maximum 10 players receive majority approval, then the top 10 by total percentage will be voted for by Deadspin's proxy.
Deadspin will announce the results of its voting as well as the identity of the BBWAA member enabling this process the day after the results of the Hall of Fame voting are announced in January. As the site's Tim Marchman, a former SI.com contributor who is spearheading this process, wrote in announcing this plan:
At that point, the Hall will have to either allow a ballot that had been sold for money to stand or retroactively change election results it's already announced. Either way, we will, as intended, have made a mockery and farce of the process. (Obviously the best outcome would be for someone on our ballot to be elected by one vote, thus presenting the Hall with an unpleasant but entertaining choice, but it will be fun either way.)
As I wrote last week, a single Hall of Fame ballot represents roughly 0.17 percent of the total vote in which 75 percent is required for induction, and no candidate in the history of the BBWAA voting has ever had his induction decided by a single vote.
Deadspin is making a mockery of the process, but it is also letting the informed fan's voice be heard. A majority vote on a site as popular as Deadspin is not one that can be easily swayed, thus the 10 candidates on the Deadspin ballot (and I have complete faith that at least 10 candidates will receive sufficient support to be included) will be legitimate ones.
To that end, it is my hope that Deadspin schedules its votes in such a manner that its readers can read Jay Jaffe's JAWS take on each candidate (the remaining schedule for which can be found here) as well as the Deadspin take on each. It is also my hope that Deadspin voters put their support behind Alan Trammell, who is on his penultimate year on the ballot and is, in my opinion (as well as that of JAWS) as deserving as recent second-year inductee Barry Larkin, a fellow shortstop and contemporary, and far more deserving than longtime Tigers teammate Jack Morris, who received more than twice as many votes as Trammell last year. One vote won't put Trammell, who received just 33.6 percent of last year's vote, in the Hall of Fame, but his inclusion on the Deadspin ballot could help draw attention to his candidacy for his final attempt next year.
For those wondering, in last year's BBWAA voting, just five players were included on a majority of the ballots: Craig Biggio (68.2 percent), Jack Morris (67.7), Jeff Bagwell (59.6), Mike Piazza (57.8) and Tim Raines (52.2). Save for Morris, all deserve to go in this year.Update: here