When Dan Shaughnessy writes about the Baseball Hall of Fame, shivers run up and down my spine. But then again, that's generally true for most members of the BBWAA that refuse to evolve along with the game.
But when it came time to explain his votes on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, Shaughnessy took things to a new level. On an absolutely loaded ballot, Shaughnessy voted for five players out of the ten maximum: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, and Frank Thomas. It's not who Shaughnessy voted for that's the issue – it's his backwards methodology behind his selections.
Why didn't Shaughnessy vote for Mike Piazza or Jeff Bagwell, who never failed a test for PEDs? Well, "they just don't look right". Seriously, that's the crux of his argument: he can't prove anything and has no evidence that either took PEDs, but there's just something about both players that rubs him the wrong way. That's apparently a completely valid argument in Shaughnessy's mind. Jason Collette, a writer for ESPN and Fangraphs among others, skewered Shaughnessy's logic on his personal blog, saying that "excluding others on National Enquirer-like stories does a dishonest to journalism". And that point is true: would Shaughnessy dare write a column about these baseless accusations? If he wouldn't, why is he using that as criteria in Hall of Fame voting?
Another example of Shaughnessy's hypocrisy comes near the end of his column, when he says "not voting for [Tim] Raines and [Edgar] Martinez also feels totally unfair. I just never thought of them as Hall of Famers." Except for last year, I guess, when Raines was on Shaughnessy's ballot along with Alan Trammell, who was absent this year despite plenty of room for him.
The logic (or lack thereof) that Hall of Fame voters use when casting their ballots never fails to mystify me. Frank Thomas was larger and even more muscular than Bagwell or Piazza, but looks like he'll be elected in his first year of eligibility this season – simply because there weren't any rumors spread about him during his career? Mike Mussina, who "always pitched for good teams", isn't worthy of a Shaughnessy vote, but Morris and Schilling (who each won three World Championships) are?
The point has been made time and time again – the voting process for the Baseball Hall of Fame is broken and needs to be fixed. Ballots like the ones put together by Shaughnessy and Murray Chass (which is so putrid that I'm not even going to link to it) are perfect examples of that broken process.