Today, it was revealed that the long unknown writer who Deadspin procured a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot from was from Miami Herald and ESPN host, Dan LeBatard.
It will be controversial and LeBatard will surely be crushed by his peers – who take the vote seriously enough to be outraged but not serious enough to fill out proper ballots – but should be seen as a person who helped shed a bit of light on a broken process.
“I feel like my vote has gotten pretty worthless in the avalanche of sanctimony that has swallowed it.”
It’s hard to do justice to how well LeBatard explained himself on Deadspin [linked in full above], but the foundation of the argument against the Baseball Hall of Fame voting system starts with sanctimony, an issue I discussed one year ago.
The other baseball writers will surely find a way to take away the vote of a guy who filled out a ballot using actual reasoning, while not doing a thing about the lazy, attention-desiring one’s like the Dodgers writer (not including his name) who refused to vote for anyone in the 90s (despite steroids existing in the 80’s) or the one who left his ballot completely blank (unknown as of now).
No one has ever taken a vote away from a writer who has gone on a pulpit for whatever cause they want to present, nor removed the vote from someone who takes honor of having a ballot and turning it around with no votes, but wait until you see the outrage that comes once a writer dares to allow the popular vote of fans be his voice.
“Baseball is always reticent to change, but our flawed voting process needs remodeling in a new media world. Besides, every year the power is abused the way I’m going to be alleged to abuse it here. There’s never been a unanimous first-ballot guy? Seriously? If Ruth and Mays and Schmidt aren’t that, then what is? This year, someone is going to leave one of the five best pitchers ever off the ballot. Suck it, Greg Maddux.”
Indeed, he got this correct. More than just one, though, neglected to vote for Maddux.
Armando Benitez got a vote today. So did Kenny Rogers. And even Jacque Jones. Other undeserving players got votes as well.
Only two of those wasted votes would have gotten Craig Biggio into the Hall of Fame. Where is the justice and outrage for him?
But some writers are less mad today about their Hall of Fame being weakened, and more concerned about their own power being lost.
ESPN gave him no support either:
And this funny one:
Because writers who vote completely off the beaten path and accompany it with articles on their websites aren’t looking for attention?
“I don’t think I’m any more qualified to determine who is Hall of Fame-worthy than a fan who cares about and really knows baseball. In fact, many people analyzing baseball with advanced metrics outside of mainstream media are doing a better job than mainstream media, and have taught us some things in recent years when we were behind. In other words, just because we went to journalism school and covered a few games, just because accepted outlets gave us their platform and power, I don’t think we should have the pulpit to ourselves in 2014 that way we did in 1936.”
Luckily a lot of the types of people LeBatard discusses here have come to his defense, like Rob Neyer in this excellent, well-balanced article on the matter, and Awful Announcing, in this defense of his move.
It should be remembered that LeBatard took nothing for this (not even for charity) and did not accompany this with an article for his newspaper – just allowing Deadspin to reveal the mystery ballot.
So time will tell if LeBatard’s attention-grabbing move will be dealt with any differently than the sanctimonious writers of this and past years. One thing is for sure – for all the controversy, it looks like baseball fans got the vote pretty closely to those who think the Baseball Hall of Fame only belongs to them. If you want to protect the history of the game, protect those who are actually working towards fixing the broken system.
Update: LeBatard has had his ballot revoked by the old boys club, BBWAA, as well as his MLB credentials for a full year. I would link you to the BBWAA’s official statement, but just like how most of the people in this association belong in another era, so does their non-working website. Sorry.