With the shift of today’s Cubs game from 1:20 p.m. CT to 7:05 p.m. CT, I’ve got a bit of time to examine some news that came out of baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this morning.
Highlighting these changes is a consolidation of eras into two timeframes – the Contemporary Baseball Era, consisting of the period from 1980 to present day, and the Classic Baseball Era, consisting of the period prior to 1980 and including Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues stars. The Contemporary Baseball Era will split into two separate ballots – one ballot to consider only players who made their greatest impact on the game since 1980, and another composite ballot consisting of managers, executives and umpires whose greatest contributions to the game have come since 1980.
Each of these three Era Committees – the Contemporary Baseball Era player ballot, the Contemporary Baseball Era non-player ballot, and the Classic Baseball Era composite ballot – will rotate on an annual basis, with each ballot consisting of eight candidates.
Effective beginning in January 2023, eligible players must have been retired for 16 or more seasons, equal to a one-year waiting period following their final potential year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot.
This sounds good at first glance, but this summarizes what the Hall did:
Instead of just letting HOF voters vote for the players they believe to be worthy, voters can now vote for one *less* choice than before. That seems a step in the wrong direction. https://t.co/uFf6IOm25k— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 22, 2022
But wait, there’s more:
Correction: Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and Sosa *will* be eligible in December 2022. The one-year waiting period -- and stipulation that players be retired for 16 seasons -- begins in January 2023. @MLBNetwork https://t.co/KW54J29wVB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) April 22, 2022
Ah, ha. So this is likely the real target of the Hall’s changes. They don’t want Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens to be inducted, possibly ever. Even though they are eligible to appear on this winter’s ballot, that might not happen. This tweet is from Jeff Katz, who was once Mayor of Cooperstown:
I don’t see any way that the Hall, which wanted Bonds and Clemens off the writers ballot, will voluntarily put them on an in-house ballot.— Split Season 1981 (@SplitSeason1981) April 22, 2022
There was one more change announced by the Hall Friday morning. This one is in connection with the Frick Award, given annually to a baseball broadcaster:
A ballot of 10 candidates will now be set, up from eight in the previous voting system. There will now be a requirement that at least one candidate be a foreign language broadcaster.
A new election cycle has been established, with a composite ballot featuring local and national voices in four consecutive years, followed by a fifth year featuring a ballot of candidates whose broadcasting careers concluded prior to the advent of the Wild Card Era in 1994. The new cycle will begin with the 2023 Frick Award, with composite ballots of local and national voices continuing with the Awards in 2024, 2025 and 2026 before the pre-Wild Card Era ballot is considered for the 2027 Award. The cycle then repeats every five years.
Personally, I would like to see Pat Hughes receive this award. He is now in his 27th year as the Cubs’ radio voice and has held that position longer than anyone, and that tenure is second only to Jack Brickhouse among all Cubs broadcasters. Overall, Hughes is in his 40th season as a baseball broadcaster (he also broadcast Twins and Brewers games before coming to the Cubs in 1996). He’s a terrific announcer and all-around nice guy. This new setup might allow Hughes to get what he very well deserves. One thing’s for sure: Pat will give a wonderful speech in Cooperstown when he finally wins this award.