On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that it is reducing the eligibility time of players on Hall of Fame ballots from 15 years to 10 years. So, going forward, players must gain the necessary 75% majority on ballots within 10 years to gain entrance into the Hall of Fame by the writers vote.
If, after 10 years, players have not attained the necessary 75%, they go off the ballot and must wait for the Era (Veterans) Committee to put them in if they are ever going to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Three players, Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell, and Lee Smith, will all be grandfathered in for the rule, meaning all three will remain on the ballot until they pass 15 years. Mattingly will have 15 years in 2015, Trammell will have 15 years in 2016, and Lee Smith will reach 15 years in 2017.
Did Baseball Hall of Fame reduce eligibility from 15 years to 10 due to steroids?
What really stands out from this new rule is how fast most of the steroid era players will now come off the ballot. Mark McGwire, who peaked with 25.6% of the vote in 2008, will only have two more years of eligibility left under the new rule, instead of seven more years.
Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens, the other three biggest steroid users still on the ballot, will all come off in just eight more years, as opposed to 13 more years under the old rule.
Sosa will probably be long gone before then, as he only got 7.2% in the most recent vote and below 5% knocks you off the ballot, but Bonds and Clemens are getting around 35% of the vote and likely to stay on the ballot.
Based upon the fact that all the steroid era players will come off the ballot so much faster under the new rule, one has to wonder if the Baseball Hall of Fame made the new 10 year rule to clear its ballot that much more quickly of the steroid era players.
Every year the steroid era players remain on the ballot is one more year everyone is reminded of the time in baseball when players were rampantly cheating. You know baseball wants to move on as fast as it can from steroids, and that's probably exactly what the Baseball Hall of Fame is thinking too.
The Hall of Fame is not going to say the reason they are reducing the years from 15 to 10 is because of steroids, but that's probably their main motivation with the new rule. Get the talk away from McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens and how badly they cheated with steroids over as quickly as possible.
In addition to lowering the eligibility time from 15 years to 10, the Baseball Hall of Fame is also now requiring all writers who are going to vote to fill out a registration from and sign a code of conduct form. That's because last year ESPN host and Miami Herald writer Dan Le Batard turned over his Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin who allowed fans to vote to fill out the ballot.
Le Batard was banned from the BBWAA for one year, and permanently lost his Hall of Fame voting status for the action.