Roberto Alomar: Why Baseball Hall of Fame Voting Process Needs Major Changes

Cole ClaybournCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2010

Being inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame is undoubtedly the highest honor any baseball player could ever achieve in his career.

Each year, baseball fans anxiously await to see who the newest inductees are, and if their favorites will finally take a place in baseball's promised land.

But this year, only one player Andre Dawson was inducted in to Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers Association of America, the group that annually selects the inductees.

Great players like Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar were snubbed from a bid, leaving many to question if the Hall of Fame election process presents a conflict of interest for the voters.

The baseball writers are around these athletes more than most sports journalists, so they have the opportunity to see them at their best and at their worst.

The problem with this is that it allows the writers to develop relationships with players, both good and bad. A bad experience with a player could ultimately lead them to hold a grudge against them and be hesitant to vote for them when their name appears on the ballot, even if they more than deserved to be in.

That was the case this year with Alomar . Here's a guy who was a 12-time All-Star, who finished his 17-season career with a .300 batting average, 2,724 hits, 210 home runs, 474 steals, and 10 Gold Gloves—all Hall of Fame-caliber numbers.

In case you were wondering, that's four more All-Star appearances, two more Gold Gloves, and 50 less hits in four less seasons than Dawson.

Not to take anything away from Dawson, who was certainly deserving of a spot in the Hall, but Alomar is also more than qualified.

Alomar always had sort of an edge to him, especially with reporters. He also had an incident where he spit on umpire John Hirschbeck's face after an argument over a call.

Alomar's edginess and controversies seem to be the only thing the kept him from being a first ballot Hall of Famer .

The numbers are there, but the opinions of the writers weren't.

This is a clear example of a continuing conflict of interest in the Hall of Fame voting—something journalists are taught to avoid.

Alomar's case is just one example, but it's something that makes news every year.

ESPN's Buster Olney said that if writers are making news for having a conflict of interest in their voting, it's time to change the voting process.

That's why the Hall of Fame should organize an unbiased group of people who vote on the player's based on their numbers, awards and contributions to the game, without any preconceived notions of the players.

The exception to this would be the players whose names have been linked to steroids. Having an attitude and not always getting along with reporters isn't grounds for denial from the Hall, but tarnishing the game of baseball and cheating is certainly reason to be withheld from the Hall of Fame. 

This is why players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Rafael Palmeiro will have a very hard time finding a place in Cooperstown at least while the writers of this generation are in control.

But, nonetheless, the voting process needs to change, and change swiftly. Alomar's denial from Cooperstown is a stab at the heart of the BBWAA's voting credibility.

The current voting process needs to stop before it gets any worse and other deserving players are forced to wait on being inducted simply as punishment by so-called experts.

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