Baseball Hall of Fame narrows eligibility window

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Baseball Hall Of Fame Narrows Eligibility Window

As if getting into baseball's Hall of Fame wasn't hard enough already - players now have only 10 years to be considered for the honor rather than 15.

Along with the decreased eligibility time, the Hall of Fame says voters will now be required to register and sign a code of conduct. In a display of transparency, who's voting will also be made public.

More likely than not, the code of conduct for voters is likely a result of a Hall of Fame controversy last year. That's when ESPN's Dan LeBetard handed his ballot over to Deadspin, essentially breaking an unwritten rule of secrecy among voters.

Baseball Hall of Fame narrows eligibility window
Fans visit displays of former Major League Baseball managers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be inducted to the hall on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Fans visit the Plaque Gallery at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Former Major League Baseball managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, with pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas, will be inducted to the hall on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Former Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux signs an autograph during a baseball Hall of Fame golf outing at Leatherstocking Golf Course on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. He will be inducted into the hall on Sunday, along with other class of 2014 members Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Texas Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel speaks after receiving the Ford. C. Frick award during a ceremony at Doubleday Field on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Former Major League Baseball manager Bobby Cox speaks during a news conference on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Cox will be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Fans visit the Plaque Gallery at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Former Major League Baseball managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, with pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas, will be inducted to the hall on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Fans visit displays of Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. The former Major League Baseball players will be inducted to the hall on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JULY 26-27 - FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2013 file photo, retired managers, from left, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox gather for a photo after it was announced that they were unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, at a news conference during MLB winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Induction ceremonies are Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Former baseball player Roger Clemens leaves federal court in New York, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The former Yankees pitcher wants a judge to stay an order that he share documents with his accuser in a defamation case. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Roger Clemens arrives at federal court in New York, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Clemens is fighting a federal judge's order to share documents with his accuser in a defamation case. A judge had ruled early this month that Clemens needed to turn over hundreds of pages of documents to former New York Yankees strength coach Brian McNamee. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Former baseball player Roger Clemens leaves federal court in New York, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The former Yankees pitcher wants a judge to stay an order that he share documents with his accuser in a defamation case. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Los Angeles Dodgers batting coach Mark McGwire stands in the dugout efore a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Los Angeles Dodgers batting coach Mark McGwire talks on the bullpen phone before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire looks on against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game in Denver on Thursday, July 3, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Sammy Sosa is sighted on opening night of the “Vivir Mi Vida” world tour at the American Airlines Arena on August 23, 2013 in Miami,Florida (Photo by Jeff Daly/Invision/AP)
FILE - At left, in a June 23, 2011 file photo, former San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds leaves federal court in San Francisco. At center, in a July 14, 2011 file photo, former Major League baseball pitcher Roger Clemens leaves federal court in Washington. At right in a May 13, 2009 file photo, former baseball player Sammy Sosa attends the People En Espanol "50 Most Beautiful" gala in New York. Baseball's all-time home run king and its most decorated pitcher likely will be shut out of the Hall of Fame when the vote is announced in January 2013. An AP survey shows that Bonds and Clemens, as well as Sammy Sosa, don't have enough votes to get into Cooperstown. (AP Photo/File)
Sammy Sosa and former President Bill Clinton are seen at the 12th Annual Starkey Hearing Foundation "So The World May Hear" Gala on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Starkey Hearing Foundation)
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Voting takes place very year. The Baseball Writers Association of America along with three committees of the sport's veterans all cast ballots for former coaches and players.

So, why make the change now? National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson explains.

From MLB: "It's become clearly evident ... that after 10 years the likelihood of election is incredibly minimal. So that the idea of making it more relevant was attractive to the board."

While that's all the Hall of Fame would officially say on the matter, the decision has some questioning if the change wasn't made for another, more cynical reason.

​Jon Morosi of FOX Sports notes that "Hall of Fame voting changes, just announced today, will make it even harder for Steroid Era candidates to earn election."

The "steroid era" Morosi refers to is the period of MLB history stretching roughly between the late 80s and late 2000s, during which numerous players are believed to have used steroids to enhance their performance.

Affected by the narrowed eligibility window at the Hall are star athletes like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire - the last of which will have only two years left to enter the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame denied the idea that they lowered the ballot time to keep out these stars, but that hasn't stopped sites from speculating.

A writer at the San Jose Mercury News notes that even with the denial, "several members of the Baseball Writers Association of America said that the practical effect is that there will be no more toeing the line when it comes to the controversial candidacy of players."

Bleacher Report says either way, the change makes practical sense: "There's no need for a retired player who has been sitting on the couch five years to wait potentially 20 years after playing his last game to make it to the Hall of Fame."

The changes are the first to be made since 1991 and only the second time Hall of Fame rules have been altered since 1985.

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