A Call for Ethical Principles Amongst the BBWAAÂ
Yesterday, Mark McGwire was left out of the Hall of Fame by a significant margin, despite hitting 583 career home runs and breaking Roger Maris’ long standing single season mark in 1997.Â Arguments and rumours persist amongst the media and fans if McGwire deserves to be in the Hall for allegations pertaining to his use of illegal substances.
In 1947 Ted Williams was completely left off the ballot of a Boston sports writer who was verbally assaulted by Williams during the ’47 season.Â Despite winning the AL Triple Crown, Williams finished secondÂ to Joe DiMaggio in the MVP voting, losing 202-201.Â If that writer had believed that Williams was even the 10th best player in the AL that year Williams would have rightfully won that MVP award.Â
This happendÂ before most of us can remember but any student of baseball history will say, “Williams won 2 MVP’s but in 1947…” or that “Joe D. won 3 MVP’s but in 1947…”.Â Should a disgruntled baseball writer have this much impact on baseball history?Â Should Williams haveÂ kissed up to him in order to get a 10th place vote and win the MVP?Â What does thisÂ do to Joe DiMaggio’s legacy?
Baseball writers have to be unselfish and unswayable.Â They have to make decisions based on the facts, not emotions, allegations or prejudices this is part of their profession.Â They have been given this vote for the fact they are professional.Â To maintain the integretity of baseball institutions there must be ethicalÂ guidelines, and if these guidelines are not followed,Â there must be consequences.
Many media personalities will release who they voted for and why in their column, radio shows or onÂ television.Â This is not binding and is accountable to only their readers who have no recourseÂ that will change anything.Â There should be something in place, an authority, to oversee any prejudices.Â When voting, a member should have to be accountable for not voting for a player.Â An MLB authority should be able to call up Bob Elliot in Toronto and ask him, “Did you vote for Justin Morneau and not Derek Jeter because Morneau is Canadian?”Â or “Did you not vote for McGwire because of steroid allegations?”Â or “Did you not vote for Jim Rice because he is black”.Â Of course all of these questions are hypothetical and do not reflect Mr. Elliot’s belief set but if any writer anwsered ‘yes’ to these questions he should lose his vote and in some circumstances be subject to ‘banning’ that they demand be placed on players from time to time.
Personally, I do not beleive Mark McGwire’s numbers were good enough to get in the HOF ahead of or instead of Gwynn or Ripken, however, I cannot accept that media members possibly would not vote for him because of steroid ‘allegations’.Â McGwire is not banned from baseball ballots and until he is he should be given aÂ proper shake at the can by looking at his numbers on the field.Â His home run figures alone are awesome and should probably, some day, get him into the Hall.Â
IfÂ MLB decides that it wants to ban certain players for using banned substances (ie) PalmieroÂ and Canseco,Â after either an admission or overwhelming proof then so be it.Â MLB is a privateÂ organisation andÂ can make their own rulesÂ and makes the ballot.Â I feel, that if they make a ballot and throw it to the wolves (media) they shouldÂ put some guidelines and accountability if they want to get a proper result.Â
TheÂ NHL which, like other sports, hasÂ fan ballots for All-Star Games has recently been swamped with aÂ
“Vote for Rory FitzPatrick”Â campaign which may putÂ a marginal NHLer with no star power onÂ the starting line-up.Â I feel this is acceptable.Â A fan byÂ root is aÂ ‘fanatic’ and is naturallyÂ led by emotion, passion, whim or revenge.Â A media person is a professional, they are supposed to deleiver the facts, ideally unbiased, can we not expect the same professional attributes from media personel when they are asked to vote?
In the next decade we will see some player’s who have been thorns in the media’s side, their off field personalities and actionsÂ may not be suitable to recieve the vote of some memebers.Â If Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Alomar or Palmiero are on the ballot will BBWAA not vote for them because of ‘allegations’ or ‘spitting incidents’ inturn injoring home runs, batting averages and Gold Gloves.Â I challenge BBWAA to look at the on-field contributions to these players and for the integrity of the game vote accordingly.Â And MLB, if the writers are not up to the challege, form something to regulate their votes.Â