More than three weeks after the latest class of Hall of Famers made it to Canton, discussion and debate continue regarding possible improvements to the process of sifting through eligible candidates.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the 44 members of the selection committee, has added his two cents on the topic, under a subheadline that says the process “needs an overhaul.”
Bouchette writes that the Hall of Fame has been soliciting opinions from the members of the committee regarding possible changes. Voter Howard Balzer told PFT Live this week that some of the voters planned to meet in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine to discuss possible changes. Bouchette indicates that the meeting happened on Thursday.
Bouchette mentions that some are clamoring for transparency, something he doesn’t seem to favor. (He’s one of the only voters to publicly question the push for transparency; most of the voters who have commented on the subject favor making the outcome of the voting process known.)
Bouchette favors the creation of separate categories, so that men like NFL Films founder Ed Sabol won’t have to compete with players like Steelers center Dermontti Dawson.
As to the process of expanding the pool from 44 voters, many have expressed concern that adding voices will bog down the annual meeting during which the next class of Hall of Famers is determined. Bouchette provides the most radical suggestion yet.
“Copy what the Baseball Hall of Fame does,” Bouchette says. “They have more than 500 voters, but the ballot is handled through the mail — no debates in a room for 71/2 hours while a voter next to you continually complains about the length of the meeting. Plus, you can then expand the voting list to any number you want. . . . That’s my solution — 500 voters, mail ballot, only players. Somehow, the Baseball Hall of Fame thrives without holding meetings to discuss the process, as they did Thursday in Indianapolis, or meetings to vote. Just vote. If you don’t know if a player should be in the Hall of Fame, you don’t need the power of persuasion by a colleague in Nashville to convince you. Just do your homework.”
We don’t know that 500 is the right number, but we think that the current Hall of Famers should have a say. Regardless of who the voters are, it’s important to have more than 44 people determine who gets in and who doesn’t. As both Bouchette and voter Dan Pompei have pointed out, the current numbers of voters makes it too easy to keep a guy out.
Here’s hoping that the Hall of Fame will unveil by the 2011 ceremony new standards that will apply moving forward, along with a commitment to constantly seeking out ideas for improving the process.