First Time MLB Hall of Fame Voter Explains Why He Left Ballot Blank

Videos by OutKick

Associated Press sports writer David Skretta is a man who takes his responsibility as a Baseball Hall of Fame voter so seriously that the first-time voter turned in a blank 2021 ballot. Why? Skretta went over the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ‘Rules for Election’ into the Baseball Hall of Fame and stopped in his tracks at the No. 5 rule.

“Those that I believe performed at a Hall of Fame level on the field did not reach that threshold in such areas as character and integrity,” Skretta said via email to Ryan Thibodaux, who tracks HOF ballots.

Skretta seems to be referencing a ‘Voting’ rule. The No. 5 rule.

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played,” the rule reads.

Nothing gets the juices flowing for guys who don’t get enough sun like an old fashioned Baseball Hall of Fame ballot controversy. Baseball Insider® Buster Olney jumped into the fray lashing out at Skretta for playing the “character and integrity” card.

That led to basketball nerd John Feinstein jumping in to defend Skretta for reading the ‘Rules for Election.’

“But character IS part of the ballot Buster. Skretta is entitled to take that into account,” Feinstein argued. “You don’t have to be holy to NOT CHEAT. The steroid users cheated the game. THE GAME.”

Olney was ready for that line of attack.

“The character clause was basically obsolete, ignored over decades of voting,” Olney fired back at Feinstein. “Then McGwire appeared on the ballot and all of a sudden character matters? And the guy believed to have written the character clause is Landis, who worked to keep MLB whites-only. Seems less than ideal.”

Feinstein came back at Buster in a professional manner, especially for such a fiery topic.

“Nothing is ideal Buster. You’ve got Rob Manfred as commissioner now, hardly ideal,” John wrote. “Character clause exists; guys have right to invoke it. You can ignore it if you want; but everyone with a vote has the right to do what they want with it.”

Olney claims the writers can’t change the rules as they were written. Why?

“You’re right. It is a choice whether to use the conduct standard drawn up by a segregationist,” Buster fired back.

Feinstein returned the volley. “Then change the standard if you don’t like the way it’s written…”

“The writers don’t control that, John. They do control whether they care to apply Landis’s conduct standard that neither MLB nor the Hall of Fame applies in determining eligibility and the ballot,” Buster said as the conversation ended.

Few things here:

• Did Olney have virtual beers with the new voters to explain how things work? Doesn’t sound like it. That’s on Buster

• Skretta should end his HOF voting career with the blank ballot. Really go out on top

• Olney nerds out on this stuff way too much. Most guys are scrolling through Instagram while taking dumps. Buster’s sweating baseball stats and worrying about HOF ballots. Loosen up BO

• Baseball writers can hate Jeff Kent all they want, but he’s a HOFer

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


Leave a Reply
  1. Let’s play the hypothetical here: cast your votes without considering off-the-field issues and steroid use. Without looking at statistics, just winging it and using my guts, here are the guys who get in: Bonds, Clemens, Schilling. Borderline guys to me are Jones, Kent, Pettitte, Manny, Sheffield, Sosa, Vizquel (in other words, you could probably convince me pretty quick that any of those guys deserve to be in, I just don’t know their stats/careers that well off the top of my head). Bonds and Clemens are obviously steroid guys, but what did Schilling do wrong? Ha, that’s rhetorical…

    So of course Feinstein, who is as liberal as the day is long, is going to come to the defense of this putz who thinks he’s the modern-day Bob Ryan for utilizing the ‘morality’ clause. I don’t think it would take you too long to compile a list of dozens of guys already in the hall that fail this dude’s litmus test. Get over yourself, dude whose name I’ve already forgotten…

  2. Olney is one of those fan boy writers who want to see their baseball heroes enshrined. He’s way out of his lane calling out a fellow voter and trying to declare consideration of integrity, character and sportsmanship to be “obsolete.” And it’s lame to drag in Landis as “segregationist” — Olney playing the race card! LOL! — when that old dead white man had nothing to do with whether a player comported himself with those traits. Every one of them had the opportunity not to cheat.

    You don’t like the system, change the rules. I don’t think PED cheaters should go into the Hall, which is distinct from the museum. Stick them in an exhibit next door showing what they gave up to grab bigger numbers and money. I do wonder why the AP writer refused to vote for anyone — there are worthy candidates on that ballot who weren’t obvious or apparent ‘roids users — but it is his call. As for taking his ballot away, that’s another case of changing the (qualifying) rule.

    Man, people are babies these days.

  3. “The character clause was basically obsolete, ignored over decades of voting,” “Then McGwire appeared on the ballot and all of a sudden character matters? And the guy believed to have written the character clause is Landis, who worked to keep MLB whites-only. Seems less than ideal.”

    Granted reading about sports journos acting like spoiled brats doesn’t surprise me but…did Olney just admit that conduct, character and integrity is a ‘white’ thing?

    Don’t get me wrong…McGwire cheated and that’s a conduct, character, and integrity thing and enough to justifiably stay out of the HoF if you want to go by that standard…but I had no idea that had to do with skin color.

    Point is these guys keep revealing what ‘black’ and ‘white’ truly is…the state of your heart and soul. Not your skin color.

Leave a Reply