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A Tale of Two Halls of Fame

19 January 2007

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame gained new members last week.

CAL RIPKEN JR. and TONY GWYNN must feel extremely proud for being formally recognized as among the sport’s very best.

It’s less clear what rock’s newest inductees—GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE, R.E.M, THE RONETTES, PATTI SMITH and VAN HALEN —are feeling when you consider that they’ll be joining the ranks of TRAFFIC and THE EAGLES while seminal acts like IGGY POP, LOVE, THE DAMNED, THE MC5 and THE NEW YORK DOLLS remain excluded. (Fellow BT blogger John Davidson offered some thoughts on the hall last year.)

The hall’s Web site states that “criteria include the influence and significance of the artist’s contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.”

Granted, this is a somewhat subjective endeavor but can’t we generally agree that certain artists truly are influential and significant?

Well, maybe more patience is needed. Truly deserving artists should eventually be recognized as such and be inducted. Right?

Maybe not.

The hall’s site: “The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of about 1,000 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes, and more than 50 percent of the vote, are inducted.”

What this means is that if the voting body wanted to elect someone that the nominating committee did not approve of it couldn’t.

It also means that if the nominating committee wanted to exclude an artist from the hall for any reason whatsoever all it would have to do is omit the artist from the ballot it sends to the voting body.

Put simply, the vote is a farce.

Instead, the voting body or nominating committee (or both together) should be able to vote for anyone. And all results should be made public as is the case with baseball, where members of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America select anyone they damn please.

Rock’s power players love to peddle iconography associated with freedom, rebellion and anti-establishment thinking to help sell music, concert tickets and paraphernalia.

But when it comes time to selecting members for the hall, cloak-and-dagger machinations rule the day.

But hey, it’s only rock and roll.

2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Voting Results
Candidate Votes % of Votes
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five ? ?
R.E.M. ? ?
The Ronettes ? ?
Patti Smith ? ?
Van Halen ? ?

2007 Baseball Writer’s Association of America Hall of Fame Voting Results
Candidate Votes % of Votes
Cal Ripken Jr. 537 98.5
Tony Gwynn 532 97.6
Rich Gossage 388 71.2
Jim Rice 346 63.5
Andre Dawson 309 56.7
Bert Blyleven 260 47.7
Lee Smith 217 39.8
Jack Morris 202 37.1
Mark McGwire 128 23.5
Tommy John 125 22.9
Steve Garvey 115 21.1
Dave Concepcion 74 13.6
Alan Trammell 73 13.4
Dave Parker 62 11.4
Don Mattingly 54 9.9
Dale Murphy 50 9.2
Harold Baines 29 5.3
Orel Hershiser 24 4.4
Albert Belle 19 3.5
Paul O’Neill 12 2.2
Bret Saberhagen 7 1.3
Jose Canseco 6 1.1
Tony Fernandez 4 0.7
Dante Buchette 3 0.6
Eric Davis 3 0.6
Bobby Bonilla 2 0.4
Ken Caminiti 2 0.4
Jay Buhner 1 0.2
Scott Brosius 0 0
Wally Joyner 0 0
Devon White 0 0
Bobby Witt 0 0