Category Archives: Baseball

Predictions for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013

The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s selections are performed by members of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America who have been members for at least 10 years.

A six-person Screening Committee has selected a list of players that have been eligible for less than 15 years to be included on the ballot. A player must have played for 10 years and spent 5 years out of baseball before they can be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Players that last played in the 2007 season will be eligible for induction in 2013.

The BBWAA members will submit their ballots before December 31, and any player named on 75% of the ballots will be selected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. No more than ten players may be named on any ballot.

My prediction for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 is:

Mike Piazza, Dodgers

The major-league-baseball contract post-mortem

I don’t understand what baseball was doing in its negotiations for a new broadcast contract. Leave it to baseball to screw things up once again.

First, they told Fox that FX wasn’t good enough and it needed an all-sports network to be a serious contender, but then later apparently decided it didn’t want to prop up NBC’s own sports network, while also allowing TBS, which is almost exactly equivalent to FX (especially since all of Turner’s other non-NCAA Tournament sports are on TNT) to continue to even sniff baseball rights.

Then, they allowed ESPN to sign their agreement in advance and lock up all three of its existing packages – despite the fact that this would effectively eliminate NBC as a contender, since they were too smart to overpay for the shitty Sunday afternoon package, and reduce Fox and Turner’s interest for the same reason.

Then, they made a lot of noise about unifying not only the Saturday and Sunday afternoon packages, but the entire postseason with a single partner, going so far as to tell ESPN they would take their single wild card game and like it. And since they weren’t going to accept Turner’s CBS-alliance scheme, where CBS got the World Series, All-Star Game, some odd LCS games, and exactly zero regular season games, that meant that the contract was Fox’s to lose.

But wait! It turned out that, again, Fox wasn’t dumb enough to pay through the nose for the shitty Sunday afternoon package either! So when Turner refused to go away, not wanting to let go of TBS’ baseball legacy through its long history of Braves games, MLB ended up accepting a deal that amounts to the status quo.

The differences? Fox will now have a doubleheader of games each Saturday, so its all-sports network will have either one or two games each week, except I can pretty much guarantee that in weeks it has just one, it’ll be worse than the Sunday afternoon package; Fox gets back in the division series, splitting with TBS in similar fashion to the LCS’s and sending two games to MLB Network; and TBS gets co-exists for its Sunday afternoon games, so it won’t be blacked out in the home markets of the teams, except that means absolutely nothing because no one even knew TBS had regular season games going up against local games and everything else in sports Sunday afternoons… and TBS will now only have games the last three months of the season, so the problem where TBS seems to come from out of nowhere to take over the postseason will now get even worse!

What the hell? Why didn’t ESPN come back into play when it became clear that MLB was going to have to split up the postseason after all? Heck, ESPN and Fox could have had a league split running right through the wild card, division, and league championship series before Fox takes over the whole World Series. Sure, ESPN would probably have had even less interest in the Sunday afternoon package, but then those games would have gone to MLB Network where they belong, which is surely a boon to that network – and more important, it would have been better for baseball as a whole. Hardcore baseball fans with Extra Innings may be rejoicing over the end of blackouts of out-of-market Fox games (which I don’t think will amount to as much as you might think with Fox’s decreased inventory), but this may be even more confusing for the casual fan than the old agreement; TBS still comes from out of nowhere to take over the postseason, and ESPN shows up for the tiebreakers and one wild card game and then completely disappears. The shambling corpse of TBS’ old Braves package just will not die despite being pumped full of lead repeatedly, using the postseason as a shield. What was baseball thinking? It couldn’t have been this.

I think that, for all the money baseball raked in with this deal, they left money on the table by being too hasty to accept ESPN’s Godfather offer to keep all its existing packages in order to box out NBC. I bet baseball could have more than made up the difference in heightened interest from three partners for whatever ESPN left on the table. It didn’t end up working out very well for ESPN either; besides whiffing on its attempt to get more than one measly wild-card game, ESPN must surely know at this point that Fox’s potential all-sports network is a bigger threat than NBC’s, and as such its best play is to pit the two against one another so that both are left with a fraction of what ESPN has and unable to gain much ground, but there isn’t even any evidence that they lent any support to the Turner/CBS alliance scheme. Instead they continue to be so myopically focused on NBC that they keep handing contracts into Fox’s lap! They’ve managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, they keep! Missing! The target! KHAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!!!!!

Fox continues to be the only outfit with much sense in the sports TV wars. The baseball contract is the crown jewel for an outfit that already has plenty of programming to hit the ground running with an all-sports network. The last piece will come when Fox finishes its early renewal of the NASCAR contract, giving the network Sprint Cup races, the All-Star Race, and possibly Nationwide and Truck races. (I’ve heard that NASCAR isn’t thinking about a NASCAR network anymore, but unless it wants to foist practice and qualifying on its other partners, I don’t see Fox wanting to keep it on an all-sports network every week.)

NBC, meanwhile, now turns to NASCAR as its last real chance to get a killer app for NBC Sports Network, with the Big Ten awaiting as a last resort, but it may already be too late for them to catch Fox. All their numerous bells and whistles of side programming, from NBC SportsTalk to Costas Tonight to NFL Turning Point to Caught Looking to Sports Illustrated to The Lights, may ultimately be all for naught, a way to cover up the network’s lack of real programming; they may have given NBC a head start on infrastructure, but Fox may want to have all its infrastructure in place from the start, given their acquisition of baseball rights for a nightly highlights show. The NHL may be regretting not shacking up with Fox when it had the chance.

All five contenders in the sports TV wars have their count go up by one because ESPN, NBCSN, and CBSSN just signed a new agreement with the Atlantic 10 at the same time. Most basketball games go on NBCSN and CBSSN, with ESPN getting the conference tournament finals with, curiously, the semis on CBSSN and the quarters on NBCSN. The PBR and Mountain West recognize that NBCSN > CBSSN. Why doesn’t the Atlantic 10?

Sport-Specific Networks
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Hopefully the last word on the baseball contract until it’s announced

How might Fox use baseball to set up a Fox Sports network when ESPN has locked up all three of its previous packages? Apparently, by taking a page from Turner’s playbook.

As it turns out, it’s being reported that the situation in the room is pretty much as I suggested previously: Turner wants to get out from the utter disaster that is the Sunday afternoon package and wants to take over Fox’s Saturday package. What I hadn’t anticipated was that Fox would be more than willing to do so. Apparently, the offer they made Major League Baseball would have moved most of Fox’s regular season package to a Fox Sports network in addition to the Division Series, with the broadcast network keeping its share of LCS games. (Although both packages would still include the dreaded Sunday afternoon package.)

In other words, it’s basically the same as the CBS/Turner offer, but with the added benefit of being a single entity… and more importantly, leaving some regular season games on broadcast. Apparently MLB is rather leery of giving the World Series to CBS without a commitment to at least some regular season games. As a result, Fox should now be considered the favorite to win the contract again with CBS/Turner lagging behind – bad news for those who want to be rid of Tim McCarver, great news for those who want a competitor to ESPN.

NBC is considered to be lagging behind considerably, but this development makes me think that maybe they don’t necessarily have to be. NBC could put together a similar package as Fox, with most regular season games on NBC Sports Network with the World Series and some regular season games on the broadcast network – which also helps solve potential conflicts with hockey, horse racing, and golf. Apparently conflicts between the World Series and Sunday Night Football are an obstacle, but I can’t imagine it’s really that much of a problem. I imagine the NFL would be perfectly willing to go back to not competing against the World Series if NBC asked them to.

MLB also apparently wants to unify the postseason under a single rights holder, meaning ESPN might not end up with more than it already has after all. It’s possible MLB informed ESPN that if it wanted more than a single wild-card game and any tiebreakers, it would have to take the whole shebang, including the World Series and some regular-season games on ABC. Considering how crowded ESPN’s schedule can be, especially in fall with college football, ESPN may have balked and decided to stick with what they could get. In that light, I’m a little surprised MLB even gave ESPN that much, which makes me think ESPN may still get a few Division Series games.

Rethinking the rest of the Major League Baseball contract

Suddenly ESPN’s agreement with Major League Baseball makes a lot more sense, because of an arrangement I knew about but hadn’t anticipated.

The New York Times is reporting that CBS and Turner, evoking their NCAA Tournament marriage, have formed an alliance to try to win the baseball rights. I had laid out a potential CBS/Turner marriage as a possible dark-horse option for the NASCAR contract, but I had figured that such an alliance was impractical and unnecessary in baseball, especially with CBS’ own existing commitments and successful primetime. This means that the scenario I had laid out as the favorite on Tuesday, essentially a maintenance of the status quo, may now be a nonstarter, as TBS neither needs nor probably wants Fox to be the broadcast partner. Under the circumstances, that makes such an alliance a very strong contender to kick Fox out of the sport, one that could box NBC out entirely.

Perhaps more interesting, though, CBS reportedly only wants the All-Star Game and World Series, which evokes shades of NBC’s post-Baseball Network contract in the mid-late 90s, an arrangement I hadn’t thought would be repeated. That tells me that TBS isn’t dumb enough to take the crappy Sunday afternoon package again, which means it might be moving to MLB Network after all. No, TBS has their sights set on a far bigger prize, the big enchilada, Fox’s current main Saturday contract. Even with one game each week compared to ESPN’s three, that, coupled with TBS’ considerable postseason coverage (though I still expect ESPN to get a piece of the Division Series and maybe even an LCS), would instantly cement TBS as the main baseball broadcaster, similar to TNT’s place in the NBA contract. I had described the “ESPN/TBS” scenario as the worst-case scenario for people wanting an ESPN competitor, but while it is bad for NBC and horrible for Fox, it may well be the best scenario for baseball fans, who lose Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, and the infamous blackouts of out-of-market Fox games – that last being something I couldn’t promise with NBC.

On the other hand, if MLB is seriously considering not putting a single regular season game on national broadcast television, they’re once again proving how out-of-touch they are. Leave it to MLB to find a way to be the first professional league to sign a contract as cable-reliant as the BCS and NCAA Tournament deals despite the anti-trust exemption hanging over their heads. Combine that with the monopoly many regional sports networks have over teams’ games, and many fans without cable might be utterly unable to see any baseball games other than the All-Star Game and World Series all year long. (Incidentally, the All-Star Game seems like it’d be an even weirder fit on CBS than it would Fox, since it’d be the only game on CBS for months. I don’t see any reason not to put it on TBS; is the ASG covered by the anti-trust exemption threat too?)

That leaves me hesitant to proclaim the CBS/Turner alliance the new favorite; after putting up Tuesday’s post, I realized it actually did make some sense to put the Sunday afternoon game on FX, though a Fox Sports network is still a non-starter (to the point that Fox retaining the baseball contract might now be a bad sign for its chances of launching a network). But despite the lack of broadcast presence, it is the scenario that makes the most sense to me. And it certainly makes enough sense that it probably murders what little chance NBC still had to win the baseball contract, which has to send NBC panicking; after all its commitment to sports, NBC may now find itself the only broadcast network without a presence in the three non-NFL modern major sports, potentially setting up some cruel NHL jokes at NBC’s expense (“it’s appropriate that the NHL is on NBC because…”) and placing a massive premium on winning a piece of the NASCAR contract.

ESPN extends its baseball contract eight years

I never expected ESPN to not be part of the new baseball contract, but I have to admit I’m left utterly bewildered by the new contract that keeps all three primetime cable games on ESPN… but only gives them a single measly wild card game (and any tiebreakers).

First of all, I’m shocked that ESPN would pay so much (something like double the previous contract) for what basically amounts to the status quo, especially after their vocal commitment to get back into the postseason. I suspect that, even more than getting back into the postseason, ESPN’s real motivation was to blunt NBC and prevent NBC Sports Network from getting into baseball in any way. While TBS’ acquisition of one LCS was negotiated separately from their acquisition of the entire Division Series in the last contract, I don’t see how, if ESPN was going to acquire most of the rest of the postseason similarly, why they wouldn’t announce it now, yet I have a hard time seeing who else might get it. There’s no reason for Fox to suddenly do an about-face and go back to clearing out their October schedule for postseason games, there’s no point in NBC getting baseball without putting games on NBC Sports Network, and there’s no room for any other cable outlet to air regular season games, unless… sigh… the Sunday afternoon package is kept.

I now, sadly, think the most likely outcome is a maintenance of the status quo with the only real change being ESPN’s addition of holiday and tiebreaker/wild card games (and I do suspect ESPN will add some Division Series games later). NBC could take over the Fox package for the broadcast network and the Sunday afternoon package for NBC Sports Network, but considering how crappy the latter package has been, I think it’s more likely that NBC is already focusing on trying to get a piece of the NASCAR package. I also think any chance of Fox putting games on FX or certainly a Fox Sports Network is now out the window, reducing the chances of the latter coming to fruition.

By keeping all three primetime cable games, ESPN just severely crippled the chances of any entity seriously competing with them, and one has to wonder whether NBC will be stuck fighting for scraps forever.

Sport-Specific Networks
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A modest proposal (I really need to stop overusing that particular phrase, this is serious):

So David Stern wants to make the Olympic basketball tournament an under-23 affair like the soccer tournament, partly to increase the prominence of FIBA’s World Cup of Basketball, formerly the World Championships. That would greatly minimize the number of NBA players who went to the Olympics.

Baseball got kicked out of the Olympics mostly because no MLB players would leave their teams in the middle of the season to go to the Olympics.

So why not expressly make the Olympic baseball tournament an under-23 affair?

Granted, it’s still the middle of the baseball season, and players are even more likely to go to the majors early in baseball – I don’t know if baseball and especially the Angels and Nationals would particularly like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper leaving their teams in the middle of the season to play for Team USA, though it would certainly spike interest in the tournament…

A random rant.

In most programming guides, ESPN scheduled two hours for the Home Run Derby.

At 10 PM ET, two hours into the window, we were late in the second round.

Prince Fielder had advanced to the second round with a grand total of five home runs. It’s not like they were hitting them out of the park all over the place.

I can’t imagine how powerless a two-hour Home Run Derby would have to be. This affects the plausibility of scheduling the softball game right afterwards, because the result is SportsCenter coming on at midnight ET and airing on ESPN2 in the meantime.

If not a full three hours, how bad would it be to lengthen the Derby’s timeslot to two and a half?

But that’s nothing compared to Fox’s All-Star Game window, which has always been three hours despite the fact that Fox wastes a half hour on pomp, circumstance, and starting lineups. Why baseball insists on listing the game’s start time when it does when all parties involved KNOW the first pitch won’t be thrown for another half hour is beyond me.

This year, at least, Fox’s time slot has been moved back a half hour to start at 7:30 ET. But the time slot is STILL only three hours and there is STILL no mention of the game itself beginning at 8, despite the fact that all parties involved know even MORE that the game won’t start for a half hour, because ESPN’s Baseball Tonight pregame show will still be a full hour ending at 8 ET.

What’s more, in this case it’s completely pointless; why not lengthen the time slot by a half hour? To bamboozle affiliates into thinking they’ll be able to start local news at a time they clearly won’t?

There’s no reason to think the game is going to be any shorter than a normal game. If anything, the All-Star Game tends to last longer.

Probably this isn’t interesting to any of you, but I wanted to get it off my chest.

Sizing up the MLB contract situation

Here’s the way I see things heading into MLB’s rights renegotiations:

  • Fox’s decision to hand over Saturday nights to sports, of which MLB plays a key role, may have MLB thinking of moving its main broadcast package to primetime full-time. As the only entity of sufficient stature that can fill the time all summer, MLB would have to be something close to the lynchpin of any effort to turn a network’s entire Saturday primetime schedule to sports. One problem: Fox and ABC would have to postpone the start of their primetime college football schedule to October, and NBC is lacking in sports it can plug in the rest of the year. The state of MLB’s infamous blackout restrictions that prevent out-of-market Fox games from appearing on Extra Innings may affect this as well.
  • With the NFL likely not selling a Thursday Night package in the near term if ever, MLB is in the role of kingmaker, potentially singlehandedly deciding Fox and NBC’s chances of running down ESPN. MLB is NBCSN’s best hope for increasing its reach and popularity, and along with NASCAR, is the other sport that will play a key role in Fox’s eventual decision whether to start a network.
  • Despite all this, the fact is that MLB’s status overall isn’t that great. For a variety of reasons, MLB isn’t succeeding at all at connecting with younger audiences. In particular, I think Fox kinda wants to get out of the sport that was always an odd fit for their brand and interrupts their highly successful primetime schedule considerably during the fall.
  • TBS’ postseason coverage seems to be working out fine, but it’s hamstrung by the utter failure of their Sunday afternoon package, which last year wasn’t even attracting as many viewers as a freaking Formula 1 race. Of course, we’re comparing cable with broadcast, and part of the problem is that TBS is blacked out in home markets and gets second choice after ESPN’s Sunday night package, but it also has to do with a glut of sports on broadcast and cable weekend afternoons, and the fact remains that for most people, baseball means Fox and ESPN all year long, and then abruptly and inexplicably moves to TBS when the postseason hits. My feeling is that MLB won’t try to include that Sunday afternoon package in this round of negotiations, instead giving it to MLB Network and splitting up ESPN’s games. Most analysts seem to think MLB will create a Sunday/Wednesday package and sell the Monday package solo, but selling the Sunday package solo and packaging Monday and Wednesday together makes more sense to me, because Sunday seems to be the marquee package with exclusivity and no other games in the time slot, similar to the relationship between TNT’s Thursday NBA games vis-a-vis ESPN’s Wednesday and Friday games.
  • Complicating matters even more for TBS, ESPN desperately wants back in the postseason. That will probably force MLB to find a way to juggle the postseason between two cable partners and MLB Network. Analysts are predicting that the LCS currently airing on Fox will join its sister on cable; perhaps the arrangement will be similar to how the NBA shuffles its conference finals between TNT and ESPN.
  • The All-Star Game has been an especially odd fit on Fox, and last year actually lost in the ratings to NBC’s America’s Got Talent. My hunch is that it will move to cable, probably ESPN.

Putting all this together, I see only three potential outcomes:

NBCSN and ESPN split the cable contracts, NBC gets the World Series. There’s so much that fits about this, even beyond NBC’s desire to improve the status of NBC Sports Network: NBC’s primetime has been mired in last place for ages, so it has less to lose during October than the other broadcast networks do, plus NBC generally has a weaker sports profile overall. Also, it would mark the return of Bob Costas to baseball coverage people would actually watch.

I would expect NBC, more than any of the other contenders, not to settle for “second-class” cable status in any way. I would expect NBCSN to get a share of the postseason, including LCS games, and possibly even the Home Run Derby. There’s no way to really avoid conflicting with hockey on NBCSN in April and into May, but the Sunday package would work out better for that purpose. Meanwhile, golf and horse racing could pretty much force the broadcast package into primetime.

The biggest problem is probably that even there, NBC would run into conflicts with the Stanley Cup Final on one Saturday night a year, plus occasional West Coast US Open golf tournaments NBC would rather allow to leak into primetime. A bigger problem could be that this would involve MLB jettisoning two partners at once, which could be a bridge too far for them. That could be enough for them to back away in favor of…

ESPN and TBS split the cable contracts, ABC gets the World Series. This might be the most comfortable option for MLB, shacking up with the two most established sports broadcasters on cable in a mirror of the NBA’s relationship, but it would be disastrous for anyone who wants a competitor for ESPN. It would certainly produce some happy faces in the offices of the Walt Disney Company, not only by shutting out any potential competitors and winning World Series rights but mitigating the loss of one or two nights to TBS with the addition of the broadcast package. I wouldn’t be surprised if ESPN were trying to form an alliance with Turner to make this happen.

The only people this would make happy outside Bristol and Atlanta might be people who want to stem the death of sports on ABC. Because of the restrictions of MLB’s anti-trust exemption and MLB’s own desires, neither ESPN nor TBS would be able to move the World Series to cable, and I don’t think either CBS or MLB want a relationship between those two to fill the broadcast contract, despite its popularity with MLB’s own audience – CBS has US Open tennis in September, SEC football in the rest of the month, golf the rest of the year, and “America’s Most Watched Network” in primetime to avoid disrupting in October. ESPN would be fine with putting the World Series on broadcast and giving ABC a regular-season broadcast package because ABC’s primetime in recent years has become increasingly weak, coming dangerously close to falling to NBC’s level, and like NBC, ABC has an infamously weak sports portfolio. I could see ESPN airing a regional ABC game on its cable network, similar to what it does for college football, though only in primetime.

All things considered, though, I don’t see this happening; the most recent contract, to me, ultimately amounts in the grand scheme of things to a way for TBS to transition out of its old Braves games. MLB might be more comfortable if…

FX (or the proposed Fox Sports network) and ESPN split the cable contracts, Fox gets the World Series. Given Fox’s desire to increase the presence of sports on FX, this is the only way I see Fox staying in the sport – from both Fox’s end and MLB’s. When the Sports Business Journal wrote an article on the Fox Sports network speculations, they cited as one key factor MLB telling Fox they needed to “establish a better cable sports presence” to compete with NBC and ESPN. I don’t know whether that says more about NBC’s chances, Fox, MLB, or FX. (Or Turner, for which it might be even worse news than it is for Fox, both in the fact they weren’t even mentioned and in what it implies MLB is looking for.) In any case, while Frank the Tank¬†suggests¬†that big-time sports leagues like MLB would rather be on a network with other draws, whether other big-time leagues or general-entertainment programming, and cites that as a big obstacle to both NBC and Fox’s all-sports networks vis-a-vis ESPN and Turner, this little piece of information suggests otherwise.

This is the closest outcome to the status quo, and it’s hard for me to find convincing points against it – if Fox ends up launching an all-sports network. It was harder for me to see this happening when it involved FX getting games, because of FX’s inability to raise the fees it charges to cable providers. To my knowledge, however, a Fox Sports network wouldn’t have that problem, so the only real issues left are the ones laid out in the opening of this post.

The most likely scenarios are the ones involving NBC and Fox, with TBS being an outcome of last resort if Fox decides not to launch an all-sports network and Turner’s desire to stick with baseball combined with ESPN’s desire to keep NBC from approaching their level are enough to keep NBC out of the sport. Before Fox’s network dreams came to light I would have considered the TBS/ABC scenario the second favorite, and normally I’d say ESPN could completely box NBC out of the market – besides Turner, an alliance with Fox makes sense even with their network ideas because of their established relationships with MLB – but I think NBC is willing to overpay considerably on possibly their last, best hope to establish NBCSN’s bona fides, and I think NBC can provide a high-quality enough broadcast to overcome any qualms MLB might have over NBCSN.

I keep going back and forth on which scenario is more likely; it’s hard because the MLB contract will influence whether Fox starts a network, but the existence of a network will determine whether Fox gets the contract. That may be one reason why they’re trying to renew the NASCAR contract early, which could be a bellweather for the outcome of the MLB talks if it’s announced first. If Fox doesn’t launch a network, I think it’s probable that NBC ends up with the baseball contract, dependent on the outcome of an ESPN-Turner alliance. But if they do, or even if they haven’t decided yet? Then the race is on as Fox and NBC wage a fierce (and expensive) battle to determine which will move on to take on ESPN, with Fox being the slight favorite if they have decided and NBC a slight favorite if they haven’t.

And the winner for baseball’s new Wild Card games is…

TBS!

At least for the next two years until the new contract kicks in. Not exactly a surprise, given how much of the postseason it airs already, including any tiebreaker games.

What is a minor surprise is that TBS is trading in two Division Series games for this, which will go to MLB Network. What sort of division series games isn’t clear at the moment – will they be early games, or will MLBN take on a similar role to NBA TV and air games TBS doesn’t have the space for, which used to air on TNT? If the latter, given the way the Division Series schedule is laid out now, MLBN would get a Game 1 or 2 and a Game 3 or 4 from the weakest series, but the latter is dependent on two series not ending in sweeps, and the press release doesn’t suggest that the number of games MLBN gets is in any way dependent on the length of series. Are we in for another change to the Division Series schedule, perhaps with the first two games of both series taking place on the same two days? And will local carriers be able to pick up MLBN games, or will they be exclusive broadcasts with fans of the local teams needing to get MLBN to see the games? If the latter, that’s a humongous leap forward for MLBN; these games could be considered completely ignorable otherwise.

Not updating the Sports TV Wars count because it’s basically a gap-filler until the new TV contracts can be penned out in full.

Predictions for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2012

The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s selections are performed by members of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America who have been members for at least 10 years.

A six-person Screening Committee has selected a list of players that have been eligible for less than 15 years to be included on the ballot. A player must have played for 10 years and spent 5 years out of baseball before they can be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Players that last played in the 2006 season will be eligible for induction in 2012.

The BBWAA members will submit their ballots before December 31, and any player named on 75% of the ballots will be selected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. No more than ten players may be named on any ballot.

My prediction for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2012 is:

Barry Larkin, Reds