By James Bailey
Why is Jay Mariotti allowed a say in who gets in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Mariotti, the annoying loudmouth who writes for MLB Fanhouse, proclaimed Tuesday on ESPN’s Around the Horn that he wouldn’t vote for any of this year’s first-ballot players, and he’s also reluctant to vote for players who have been on the ballot awhile because obviously they aren’t good enough or they would have made it.
If you don’t vote for new guys and you don’t vote for old guys, who do you vote for? No one. Mariotti turned in a blank ballot this year.
Proclaimed Mariotti on Around the Horn: “I didn’t vote for anybody in the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. You know why? To me, the first ballot is sacred. I think Roberto Alomar is an eventual Hall of Famer, not the first time. Edgar Martinez, designated hitter, eventually, but not the first time. And same goes for maybe Fred McGriff. As far as Blyleven and Dawson, if they haven’t gotten in for years and years I cannot vote them in now. Ripken, Rickey Henderson and Gwynn, they are true first ballot Hall of Famers. But I didn’t vote for anybody.* Throw me out of the Baseball Writers. I don’t care.”
*in 2010; he did vote for Henderson in 2009.
These principles are apparently newfound, as Mariotti voted last year for Jim Rice, who finally made the Hall on his 15th and final ballot. He also voted for Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven, who didn’t.
What have Dawson and Blyleven done since last year to lose Mariotti’s vote? If they were good enough in 2009, why aren’t they good enough in 2010? Last I checked their stats haven’t gotten any worse. This year’s ballot competition is arguably weaker, allowing those two to stand near the top of the class. Mariotti’s five FanHouse colleagues who shared their ballots all voted for both of them.
If Mariotti doesn’t want to vote, take the privilege away from him. He’s doing nothing but lowering the percentages of the players up for election, making it tougher for them to reach the required 75 percent. Who appointed this arbitrary, unprincipled king of principles gatekeeper? And does he imagine if we were voting for writers that he would even make the ballot?
We all know this is just a publicity stunt. Mariotti is nothing if not a spotlight hound. He’s not the only writer to take a “principled” stand with a blank ballot over the years, and he’s not the only one who ought to have their voting rights re-examined. But he’s certainly the most annoying.