Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Myth Of The Rational Voter, Part 2

When you vote in an election, the odds that your vote will swing that election are extremely small, especially in federal races. While it would be nice if people would do a little research before voting, most will not, and because their votes probably won’t count, that is rational.

The BBWAA is charged with electing people into the Hall of Fame. There are roughly 539 members (if anyone has an exact number, please supply), and you need 75% of the vote to get in. This gives an individual vote more significance, and the consequences of a vote are immediate, and apparent. Moreover, the job of a baseball writer is presumably to write about baseball, and these people should therefore be accustomed to researching baseball.

That is why it is infuriating that many members of the BBWAA do not take this responsibility seriously. Look, this frankly isn’t that important. It’s not like anyone is going to starve due to not being into the Hall of Fame (or alternatively, that Jim Rice will use his hall membership for nefarious purposes), but being in the Hall of Fame has real world consequences. It is financially rewarding. It is a great matter of pride for the honoree. It keeps a player alive in our minds.

If you have a vote, it is not good enough to “never forget Donny Baseball.” I too will never forget Donny Baseball and his mediocre hitting outside of a brief three year window (where he was very good). That should not get him a hall of fame vote. Jim Rice being “feared” should not get him in. The fact that we now think of Jim Rice as “feared” just means that his contemporaries were sissies, or that his PR machine has done a very good job. It’s meaningless. I mean, if Jim Rice was “feared” surely Barry Bonds was what, terrifying? Albert Belle. Now that guy was feared.

The fact is that most professional baseball writers are completely unprofessional in their voting. The bastion of objectivity that is journalism is, at least in this instance, ruled by gut feeling, emotion, the smell of the grass, and all of the other stuff that just makes you want to puke on Kevin Costner. If you voted for Don Mattingly, you should lose your vote. If you voted for Jay Bell, you should lose your vote and probably your job. If you voted for Jesse Orosco, your last name better be “Orosco.” And if you didn’t vote for Rickey Henderson, then you should lose your vote, your job, and you should never be allowed to watch baseball again as you obviously don’t pay attention.

Two more things. First, here’s ESPN’s Rob Neyer, they’re best baseball analyst on not being a BBWAA member:

“I don't know exactly what went down and probably never will. According to BBWAA president Bob Dutton, my membership was rejected because I don't go to the ballpark often enough (not that anybody really knows how often I'm at ballpark). I believe -- based on some scraps of information I've got -- that was merely a convenient pretext for blackballing me, and today I would be a member if I'd been a bit more circumspect with my opinions over the years.”

And here’s the BBWAA’s pathetic website, which was clearly designed by Strong Bad.

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