Baseball writers have a soul, and that's the problem. Almost all take their task of voting for the Hall of Fame very seriously, and I don't think any want the institution of the Baseball Hall of Fame to suffer because of the steroids era in Major League Baseball.
But a few of the cooks seemingly spoiled the broth in 2013, and that's set off a backlash from baseball fans who are angry that there will be no Hall of Famers elected in 2013.
As Jayson Stark of ESPN.com wrote, it's amazing to think that the all-time home run champion, a pitcher who won seven Cy Young Awards, a catcher who made 12 All-Star teams and a player with 3,060 hits were all on the ballot for the first time, yet none of them were elected.
"We need to have a long, serious national conversation, starting right now, about where those events fit into the contours of the Hall of Fame. I'm ready if you are.
"Maybe we'll decide we want a Hall of Fame that renders all, or most, of that invisible. Maybe we'll decide we want a Hall of Fame that aspires to be a shrine, not just to greatness but to purity. I don't know how we get there, but maybe that's where this conversation will lead us."
The answer isn't easy, but it doesn't seem like the Hall of Fame is ready to move. Said Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, on the Baseball Writers Association of America website:
"The standards for earning election to the Hall of Fame have been very high ever since the rules were created in 1936. We realize the challenges voters are faced with in this era. The Hall of Fame has always entrusted the exclusive voting privilege to the Baseball Writers' Association of America. We remain pleased with their role in evaluating candidates based on the criteria we provide."
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports also called for reform, and for the Hall of Fame to remove its "character" clause.
"The character clause is like so many other things written more than 70 years ago: well-intentioned but positively archaic in 2013."
Before we act in a rash fashion, keep in mind that there could be as many as five players elected next year, even without any players tied to steroid use. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are on the ballot for the first time, and holdovers Craig Biggio and Jack Morris (in his 15th and final year) have a good chance to break over that barrier.
And perhaps the voters who returned blank ballots will be shamed enough to vote in 2014. And if not, the BBWAA should act to take away their ballots for good. Because if they're not willing to vote for anybody on next year's star-studded ballot, they're just standing in the way.
See: 2013 Hall of Fame voting, with percentage changes.