The UPA announced the latest class for the Ultimate Hall of Fame. Before we get to the main course, I wanted to express disappointment that for the third straight year, less than the maximum number (five) were elected. I think it's time to rethink the logistics of the final vote. Currently, the voters select up to five names from the Slate of Eight and the top five that get at least 60% of the votes are inducted.
Disclaimer: I was on the HoF Committee from 2005-2007, mostly because I was interested in the logistics and there was a vast shortage of people who were willing and available to do the work. I was the liaison for the Open Peer Review group, and cast my vote according to the voice of the reviewers. I have gotten to know some of the voters a little, and my impression is that they care a lot about spirit and character, but none could be characterized as "spirit zealots".
Any issues that arise are due to it being such a difficult process to come up with a Hall of Fame, especially in a sport like ultimate with no stats and no extensive media coverage. Players are spread out over time and geography but are asked to review all prospective candidates. One of the players inducted this year had his peak in around 1975, but 44 year olds are also eligible for the Hall. And in the old days, fewer teams made Nationals or made cross-country trips, so it would be harder to evaluate players from other regions.
There is also an issue, in my mind,
On rsd, jacob tried to bring a discussion to the discussion when he wrote:
"The only issues are:
1) Should the leader of the best team of all time be excluded (even
temporarily) from the hall of fame if he demonstrated poor enough
2) If the answer to question # 1 is "yes," then was Kenny Dobyns' sotg
poor enough to warrant exclusion? "
This, of course, was followed by poorly-spelled diatribes on refereez and dischoops, and one whiny "of course Kenny was great, I knew him myself" supporter.
But these are exactly the questions to ask, and they can really be extended to the second best player on the third best team who was kind of a cheater but an otherwise nice guy, or whatever.
Despite him being a prick and a petty, bitter little man, I would have expected Kenny to sail in the first time he was under consideration. Gewirtz, him I thought would be the poster child for how big of a jerk you could be and not get elected.
(Regarding "jerk", I don't think it's simply a matter of whether someone was an ass. Some of my best friends are jerks, but that shouldn't be held against them here. If a baseball player doesn't speak to the media, that should have zero bearing on his HoF worthiness. If his surliness made him a bad teammate and caused him teams to underperform, maybe you count that. In ultimate, how much did a player's jerkiness affect the fairness of the contest?)
I guess there is a vaguely similar issue with the baseball HoF. Barry Bonds was an inner-circle HoFer before he ever took steroids. Rafael Palmeiro is a bordeline HoFer even with steriods (he has the career value no doubt, but is a little low on peak value). Mark McGwire has a solid HoF career and had some star years before steroids, but would it have been enough without steroids? (I'm assuming that taking steroids is neither automatic grounds for dismissal nor completely irrelevant, but instead is something that should be taken into account.)
I saw one especially good quote from a baseball writer. "Dock them slightly for character issues if you must, but ... if, 20 or 30 years from now we have a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include the undeniably best players of their time, you have a pretty useless and irrelevant Hall of Fame."
Other issues, besides there not being enough inductees each year:
1. "Era". One of the guys elected this year had his peak in about 1980, others under consideration were still building their cases well into the 1990s. The eligibility was based on age, not years after retirement since you can always keep playing, but we are mixing together players from a lot of eras. I know the peer groups might be trying to address this, but it seems to be inconsistent with how it's applied.
2. Women. Only one was put forth on the Slate of Eight this year. The women who were recently elected played significantly later than the guys who have appeared on the ballot or were elected. Again, I don't know what the right answer is, but there is an inconsistency.
3. Public discussion. The UPA did put out a call soliciting comments on the Slate of Eight, and those comments were reviewed by the final voters before making their decision. But there ought to be a public discussion group somewhere, not that it would be required reading for the voters, but so that things can be discussed logically and coolly (as least as much as this is possible on the Internet). Some baseball website created a Hall of Merit akin to the Hall of Fame, and they have discussions on all prospective candidates.