A few bad ballots: Voters owe fans answers

January 7th, 2016

These are civilized times, right? It would probably be the wrong thing to do a freedom of information request and find the names of the Junior Griffey Three.
But come on, people.
What were you possibly thinking when you left Ken Griffey Jr. off your Hall of Fame ballot? How can you possibly justify turning a cold shoulder on a center fielder who won 10 straight Gold Glove Awards, hit 630 home runs and was the face of his generation?
• The Kid is Hall right: Griffey to Cooperstown
You never got over the backward cap? You only saw the second half of his career? What? Tell us, please.
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch is among many who believe the "Griffey Three" should come forward and explain themselves.
"If you are a MLB HOF voter who does not vote for Ken Griffey today, I think you owe it to your readers to be transparent with the vote and why,'' Deitsch said on Twitter.

Couldn't agree more.
Top 10 vote-getters by percentage
This marked the 23rd time I've had the privilege of voting for the Hall, and I did exactly what I've done 22 times previously. I started out checking the obvious boxes, and I went from there. This seems logical to me, but apparently not to everyone.
I could go on, and I am going to, but I would like to pause a moment to interject a bit of perspective from Bob Dutton, who covers the Mariners for the Tacoma News Tribune. He generally keeps a running dialogue going with his Twitter followers, and at some point on Wednesday night, he got tired of speculating about the three scribes who dissed Griffey.
"Can't imagine not voting for Griffey, but why carp about the three votes he didn't get?'' Dutton tweeted. "Why not focus on his record 99.3 percent? Amazing."
Dutton went on to lament the Twitter witch hunt overshadowing the celebration of "Griffey getting a higher percentage than Mays, Ruth, Aaron..."
He's got a point, but still …
When more than half of the 440 votes had been made public before the election, and Griffey had gone 239-for-239 in the ballots collected by Ryan Thibodaux for his website BBHOF Tracker, we got excited thinking that the voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America might all get it right this time.
What a feat that would have been after Greg Maddux was left off 16 ballots two years ago (and Randy Johnson off 15 last year). Then came word that three of my brethren had done it again, for reasons they aren't technically obliged to explain.

Blue Jays center fielder Dalton Pompey spoke for a whole lot of us with this Tweet.
"I would like to meet the individuals who DIDN'T vote Ken Griffey Jr. and hear their reasoning,'' wrote Pompey, who added #thatscrazy.
Maybe one of the three will write or talk about the decision. After all, who doesn't need a column?
But it seems to me that someone looking to land themselves a spot on MLB Network would have done it before the vote, explaining in some inventive way the smarts it took to skip the obvious pick.

The Hall of Fame publishes the names of voters but not the individual ballots of voters. Many voters do make their ballots public after the fact on a site run by the BBWAA, but participation there is optional.
There are only a handful of reasons why someone might not have voted for Junior.
1. They don't vote for anyone on the first ballot, preserving the legacy of all their predecessors, none of whom were elected unanimously.
But I don't buy it. It's true that back in 1936, four guys didn't vote for Ty Cobb, setting the precedent. Willie Mays was somehow 23 votes shy of unanimous, and even Henry Aaron fell nine votes short.
There were those through the years who submitted blank ballots, guaranteeing this tradition. Maybe some older voters did this (including some who lost their voting rights when the Hall recently reduced the roll). But I've never once heard a voter seriously argue against players because it was their first year on the ballot.

2. They are so angry about the steroid era that they can't allow themselves to vote for anyone who played in it.
I have heard that. I've even seen it in print. But if that line of thinking influenced anyone not to vote for Griffey -- a guy without a single whiff of PED smell about him -- then that voter should not be voting.
Plenty of writers have stepped away from voting because of the confusion that exists about who did what and how to balance cheating with the Hall's outdated guidelines about character, sportsmanship and integrity. My own belief is that voters can't assume what they don't know, nor can they ignore what they do know. Only a very vindictive person would throw a blanket over the entire era.

3. They were too smart for their own good.
Some BBWAA members would like the limit of 10 checkmarks expanded to 12 or even eliminated altogether. This group has created the "strategic vote,'' a move in which the strongest candidates are bypassed for fringe candidates. The belief is that their vote will make more of a difference keeping a weak candidate on the ballot than endorsing a shoo-in like Griffey.
This is either over-the-top manipulation or pure madness, and I'll go with the latter.

4. The dreaded mismarked ballot.
I'm not kidding about this, either. By my count, there were a total of 3,496 votes divided up by the 27 players who got some support. I'll grant you that it would have been tough to have put a mark for Griffey in the wrong spot, as Troy Glaus and Mark Grudzielanek were both shut out. But maybe somebody thought they'd voted for Griffey but didn't.
There were, after all, voters from South Florida, land of the hanging chad.
Here's hoping we'll get some clarity in the next few days. If not hours. I'd love to hear someone explain how The Kid wasn't worth their vote. Here's my guess on the culprits.
Moe, Larry and Curly.
Do you have a better one?