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Will Hall of Fame changes change voting?

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By Larry Goffinet

How will changes in the Baseball Hall of Fame’s voting format affect the chances of suspected steroid users’ getting inducted?
The Hall of Fame announced Sunday that effective immediately players will remain on the Professional Baseball Writers of America’s Hall of Fame ballots for only 10 years instead of the previous 15 years.
It seems that the change was made to make it even harder for suspected or proven steroid users such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens to get elected to  the Hall. Each has been on the ballot several years already without coming anywhere close to receiving the 75 percent of the writers’ votes necessary for election.
Some writers firmly believe that none of the strongly suspected steroid users should ever be elected to the Hall and no doubt support getting them off the ballot sooner.
Other writers may just be wanting to send the suspected dopers a message that they don’t approve of their actions by not voting for them their first several years of eligibility but maybe planned to vote for them eventually.
So the change may mean they start voting for those players sooner rather than later and thus may actually hasten some of them’s election to the Hall.
It will be interesting to find out which is the case.
However the change could hurt some deserving players who were never suspected of steroid use.
It took former Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice the full 15 years on the ballot before he was elected to the Hall. He is the only player in history to have at least 200 hits and 39 homers three years in a row and his 406 total bases in 1978 were the most by any major league in 41 years.
It took Bert Blyleven, who won 287 games and is fifth all-time in strikeouts with 3,701, 14 years on the ballot to get elected.
The rule change will mean more cluttered ballots and could lead to players such as these not making the Hall or having to be elected by the Era (formerly Veterans) Committee, where politics and having former teammates on the committee are often decisive factors.
So it’s doubtful if the rule change has really accomplished anything positive.
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When Abe Saperstein created the American Basketball League in 1961 he started a new system for having teams make the playoffs.
It involved having the top teams from the first half of the season and the top ones from the second half both make the playoffs.
Is it time for Major League Baseball to use such a system?
It would mean that talented teams such as Tampa Bay, which is hot now but was slowed by several injuries the first half of the season, would have an excellent chance to make the playoffs.
Instead the Rays are looking at a second-division finish and by the time you read this may have traded former Cy Young Award winning pitcher David Price to a contender.
Such big-name players would not be traded during the season under a playoff format that divided the season into halves. Thus all teams would have to pretty much stick with the rosters they started the season with, which would make more sense.
Major League Baseball did use the split-season format for deciding playoff teams in 1981, when a players’ strike interrupted the middle of the season.
The Montreal Expos finished the season with the most total wins in the National League East that year but did not make the playoffs because they did not have the most wins in either half of the season.
They were understandably upset, as the split-season format had not been agreed to until midseason, after the players’ strike ended.
But if all teams know ahead of time what the playoff format will be, then it would be fair for everyone.
One could also allow the team with the overall best record for the season to make the playoffs as a wild-card team.
The split-season format is definitely worth considering so many teams and their fans won’t be giving up for the season shortly after the all-star break.