In all the foofaraw over the HOF elections, one voter stands above the rest in terms of sheer ineptitude and self-promotion. Let's ridicule them! But first, the runners up:
Second runner-up: Jay Mariotti
Jay turned in a blank ballot this year, which is certainly his prerogative. But let's look at his reasoning:
I didn't vote for anybody in the baseball hall of fame this year. Ya 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. 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."
Forget that hooey about first-time induction being special. It's stupid reasoning, but Mariotti's not alone. Let's instead look at his bizarre statement that if someone hasn't been elected yet, they're not good enough and aren't deserving of a vote. This is also acceptable, if it's a principled stand. Yet Mariotti voted for Jim Rice last year, on his 15th try. Want to know who else he found deserving last year? Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven.
First runner-up: Lisa Olson
Olson also turned in a blank ballot, as she has every year since she's become eligible. I can only assume it's some kind of protest, though ineffective at anything except getting everyone all riled up. There's the slim chance that she's protesting the hypocrisy of letting journalists contribute to what amounts to PR for the sport they cover, and because of that, she doesn't get the top spot.
Update: We received this note from Olson:
Regarding the Hall of Fame ballot: I don't participate because I believe journalists shouldn't be voting on people they cover. As someone else noted, it's akin to having journalists who cover the pentagon vote on who should receive the purple star. Who knows, maybe someday my mind-set will change, but that is how I feel now. And not participating is much different than sending in a blank ballot. My decision to not participate has zero impact on the outcome.
(So direct your venom elsewhere; namely, the voters above and below her.)
Winner: Bill Conlin
Oh Bill. Usually it's the cranky old men who take this thing seriously. But then we read this:
I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that's just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock's career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you'll be amazed.
Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.
You catch that? Conlin voted for Raines in 2008, but then noticed that very few of his colleagues did. Then he left Raines off his next two ballots, simply because he didn't want to be on the wrong side of the consensus. But wait! Raines' totals went up this year, so Conlin will be sure to vote for him again in 2011!
That's just the worst sort of person. "Being on the right side of history" applies for things like gay marriage, not the hall of fame. No one remembers or cares who voted for whom. If you think the guy deserves to be in, vote for him.
Instead, Bill Conlin wants to be able to tell his grandchildren that he only voted for true hall of famers, and no one else. If that's the case, let's just scrap the whole BBWAA system and let Conlin unilaterally decide who makes it.
Take Hall vote away from "principled" Mariotti [Hardball Cooperative]
MLB Hall of Fame Voting-The Blank Ballot Bandits [The CMSB]
Dawson no surprise for Hall of Fame selection, but other choices raise eyebrows [Philly Daily News]