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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.
Ballot #114 is from first-time voter David Skretta. He submits a blank ballot. In his email, David wrote, "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."
— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) January 2, 2021
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
This needs to be said again and again: The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum. A baseball museum. It's not a house of the holy.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 3, 2021