Baseball's Hall of Fame changes the rules

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As a new class of potential Hall of Famers heads for Cooperstown, the Baseball Hall of Fame released a list of new rules for those looking become members.

There have not been alterations to the Hall's criteria since 1991, but nonetheless, the Board of Directors has decided on stipulations that further limit former players, coaches, and all other baseball icons looking for entry.

According to Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, “Our Board of Directors constantly evaluate all the processes of the Hall of Fame voting, whether it be voting, programs, the way we operate,” which explains the lightning quick nature of the first rule change in 23 years.

For starters, the amount of years one can spend on a ballot has been shortened from 15 to 10 (Alan Trammell, Lee Smith, and Don Mattingly will be the last players currently on the ballot to get 15 years). This change was met with debate, as players linked, or even suspected of being linked, to steroids will likely not have enough to time for their "crimes" to be forgiven over the course of an entire decade.

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that this would have led to the omission of several legends from the Hall of Fame had it been insitituted years earlier, insinuating that it would likely do so for future candidates as well.

Another change - this one a bit more predictable - stemmed from ESPN's Dan LeBatard selling his vote last year to Deadspin, which the web site then opened up to a vote among its readers. All Hall of Fame voters will be forced to sign a "code of conduct" that will prohibit this sort of unorthodox move.

Other rules include the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who conducts the Hall of Fame voting having all of their names revealed, but not their votes; and each player being having to receive five percent of the votes cast to stay on the ballot. To actually reach the Hall, they must receive 75 percent.

The board can pretend as though these decisions - which will increase the odds of players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not getting in due to their names being linked with performance-enhancing drugs - had "nothing to do" with steroids, as chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. 

But let's not kid ourselves. This is the time of year when we see which BBWAA voters are normal humans performing an honored novelty, and which ones see it as a sacred right, handed down to them from Valhalla. There are those who simply think, despite a complete lack of evidence in some cases, that a player is linked to steroids, and refuse to vote for them even after being proven wrong. The Hall has yet to insitute any rule change that eliminated "petty childishness" from the voting process. 

There is also the matter of links to PEDs being treated as crimes against humanity by the ever-serious Hall of Fame voters, while men like Tony La Russa (DUI) and Bobby Cox (domestic abuse) are treated with back-slapping camaraderie.

This has been an ongoing issue every year when induction time rolls around, and the Hall has ensured that it will continue.