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Hall of Fame Has Empty 2021 Class

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For the first time in more than 60 years, no one will be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. On Tuesday. MLB announced no player on the ballot had received the 75% minimum votes required to be inducted into Cooperstown. 

The player closest to reaching that threshold was pitcher Curt Schilling, who was just 16 votes shy of making it in. Schilling then released a public letter, requesting to be removed from the ballot in 2022, which would be the last year he would be eligible. In the letter, he states he is grateful to be considered but adds, “I can say at this point I am mentally done. I know math, and I know trends, and I know I will not attain the 75% threshold for induction.” 

In response to the letter, Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, said Schilling’s request violates the BBWAA. The association argued that because Schilling meets all the requirements to be on the ballot, it is more or less at the discretion of the BBWAA that he would be included.

These technicalities and hurdles are a massive part of why fans continue to get upset about the Hall of Fame. What should be an elite group of players who have contributed to the sport over the years has become more of a headache for both players and fans. Schilling was not the only player on this ballot that has just one more year left of eligibility. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are two other big names who now just have one year left to potentially get into the Hall of Fame.

While many fans have mixed opinions on both of those names drawing back to baseball’s steroid era, the stats certainly make it hard to deprive them of a spot in Cooperstown. To a lot of fans now, the Hall of Fame is seen as a “joke.’ Many see some of their favorite players being boxed out of the Hall over technicalities and personal bias. The fact that these decisions come from writers as to whether a player will make it to Cooperstown or not only adds to the skepticism. Bonds was a player widely known to sideline the media, and many fans wonder if these writers, now responsible for voting, give this as another reason to hold their votes. All signs lead to the Hall of Fame becoming more of a popularity contest and less about on-field performance.

All is not lost for the Hall of Fame in 2021, though, because players will still be inducted this summer. While nobody was granted access to the Hall on this ballot, the 2020 induction was pushed back to this summer due to COVID-19. The induction is planned for July, when Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and Marvin Miller will become a part of the Hall of Fame.

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