Clinton Yates ESPN’s Clinton Yates wasn’t thrilled over what the BBWAA did after Tuesday’s HOF induction news. Credit: ESPN

The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to three new enshrinees on Tuesday. Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, and Todd Helton were voted into Cooperstown to solidify their baseball legacies. Just as we have perennially learned to encounter, however, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) vote became the subject of intense criticism.

Billy Wagner, sixth all-time in saves, fell five votes shy of the Hall of Fame. Gary Sheffield, he of the 500-home run club, fell short on his tenth year on the ballot, meaning that recognizable and iconic swing won’t touch Cooperstown unless another committee lets him in. That’s to say nothing of their dubious votes in recent history barring Barry Bonds and others from the Hall of Fame as well.

ESPN’s Clinton Yates is a noted baseball fan and writer. On Wednesday’s episode of Around the Horn, Yates took time to rant about the situation. But he made sure to emphasize one key thing: The BBWAA and the Baseball Hall of Fame have nothing to do with why he loves baseball.

“Unfortunately, it’s about who they didn’t [vote in], which has become the story of this weekend almost every year for as long as I can remember in the past couple decades. I write about baseball. There’s a reason I’m not a member of the BBWAA. It’s because I don’t wanna be affiliated with this kind of nonsense when it comes to upholding the legacies of players who deserve it,” Yates said.

“Gary Sheffield is a player who hit 25+ homers for 6+ teams. You got Andruw Jones, who’s the best defensive centerfielder I’ve ever seen in my life. And in general, the fact that there are people that actually care about this. Certain players. You talk to Sheff, he’s one of those guys. I just feel that the gatekeeping is so far away from what the average baseball fan cares about that it’s borderline rendered Cooperstown useless,” Yates emphatically said. “And that’s unfortunate for all the guys that are already there, all the people that wanna get there, and for all the people who actually do enjoy celebrating the history of the game. If it’s incomplete, everybody knows that, and this is another failure as far as I’m concerned by that association.”

What Yates gets right here is that it’s absurd to see players’ legacies and the sport’s legacy be tarnished and rendered into nothing. There’s an entire generation of players at risk of not being celebrated or honored in the Hall of Fame. Why is that? Many of the opponents will bring up the steroid era. But there are so many inconsistencies from that era, and how they’ve been handpicked by the voters (Bud Selig, the commissioner who presided over everything, is in the Hall of Fame and also has a statue built in Milwaukee) that it doesn’t add up. That’s not even getting into the fact that, more often than not, some voters will leave their ballots either incomplete or not vote for the maximum of ten players.

While you can argue that some players may not deserve it, other sports simply don’t have these kinds of processes. The Pro Football Hall of Fame certainly has its issues and logjams annually. But the way the voting process goes differs greatly, and there’s an actual conversation had amongst people instead of having ballots sent out. There’s never any guarantee that they’d be filled out entirely either. Players like Sheffield, Jones, and otherwise will continue to suffer at the hands of voters who either don’t take their voting privileges seriously or have axes to grind that are doing the game a bigger disservice than it would be to allow these players entry into Cooperstown.

[Clinton Yates]

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022