The former New York Times baseball writer now writes a blog at murraychass.com. In a post, he says that he cast his 2013 vote for Tiger pitcher Jack Morris. Chass, winner of the 2003 Spink Award, said, “If Morris is not elected this time, I will vote for him next year in his final year of eligibility and then be done.”
Why? Chass writes:
Though I don’t believe there is a more qualified set of electors, certainly not the new-age stats guys who are envious of the writers and believe they should determine Hall of Famers, I don’t think reporters and columnists who cover and comment on baseball news should be making baseball news.
The steroids issue has made it impossible to conduct a rational vote and cast a reasonable ballot. No matter how a writer votes or on what he bases his decision whom to vote for or not to vote for, his reasoning has to be flawed and open to challenge.
Later, Chass writes:
Years ago, I introduced a motion at a national writers’ meeting that we withdraw from voting. Had the motion been voted on at that meeting, I think it would have had a good chance of passing. If it had passed, we wouldn’t be debating the steroids issue now. But a quick-thinking writer moved to table the vote until the entire national membership could vote by mail.
My motion easily lost so here we are today talking about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell among others.
I couldn’t agree more with Chass. As I said in a December post, sportswriters should report the news, not make the news.
With the steroids issue, the stakes now are so much higher for the Hall of Fame voters. This isn’t about batting averages or World Series records anymore. This is about making a verdict about an entire era of baseball. As I wrote earlier, name another situation where an editor allows a reporter to play judge and jury on a story that he/she then covers.
When the vote is announced Wednesday, many baseball writers will be, in effect, reporting on themselves.
Last week, current New York Times baseball writer Tyler Kepner noted his paper has a policy prohibiting him from voting. In a tweet, he said: “ There are so many inherent contradictions in the process, it’s almost a relief I can’t vote.”
Dave O’Brien, who covers baseball for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, responded in a tweet: “For 1st time, I feel same.”
I have a feeling many other writers feel the same way.