The BBWAA has stripped Dan Le Batard of his right to vote in future Baseball Hall of Fame elections, the BBWAA has announced.
Le Batard agreed to cast his ballot for whomever Deadspin readers voted for. The Le Batard/Deadspin ballot consisted of Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling. While that is not how I would have filled out my ballot, all ten of those players are Hall-worthy, and this ended up being a better ballot than many of the others I saw that were cast.
This is amusing to me, on several levels. First, if you recall, when Ken Gurnick -- just to name one individual -- revealed he voted for only Jack Morris, and was subject to criticism, many BBWAA writers rushed to defend him. Here's an example:
ken gurnick has earned right to vote after decades as baseball writer. disagreeing is fine, but he doesnt deserve abuse.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 7, 2014
When it was revealed that Le Batard had allowed Deadspin readers to decide his ballot, however, the tone changed...from the same writer:
Shame on the santimonious attention seeker who turned his vote over to a website. #sad— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 8, 2014
I want to be clear...I didn't advocate for Gurnick to have his ballot stripped because I didn't like his choices, just like I don't think Murray Chass should lose his because he sees HOF balloting as an opportunity to troll, and I don't think Le Batard should lose his for letting the fans decide his selection.
Really, one of the biggest problems the writers seem to have is that it was Deadspin, in particular, that did this. If, say, an established writer at ESPN had said, I don't know who to vote for, the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about the fans anyway, so you guys send in your votes, and I'll vote for who you guys pick, it would have been fine. Because ESPN is part of the mainstream that the BBWAA sees itself as being a part of, while Deadspin (like SBNation and other internet sites) is part of the "outsiders," are part of the barbarians at the gate that the BBWAA is fighting against. Rob Neyer, for example, lost his BBWAA accreditation when he came to SBN.
The other issue is that there seems to be, among some in the BBWAA, the notion that the Hall of Fame voting is about them. Just like with the MVP, Cy Young, and the like -- which Evan Grant was quick to remind us in 2012 were "OUR awards" -- some seem to think the Hall of Fame voting isn't about the players, or the fans, but is about the writers, and their position as the final arbiters as to who is "great" and who is not.
The reality is that if the Hall of Fame were created now, no one would suggest that anyone who has been a BBWAA member for ten years should have a say, and no one else should. 80 years ago, when the Hall of Fame was created, we didn't have the internet, we didn't have every game televised, we didn't have all the statistical information about players available...the writers were the best available option. But now? It just doesn't make sense.
And that was Deadspin's point, in pulling this stunt...to point out that the decision-making process for deciding who belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame is broken, that when Rick Gosselin or a writer who covers golf or the Olympics gets a say, but an Eric Nadel or a Vin Scully or a Rob Neyer or a Jay Jaffe doesn't, then that's messed up.
And the decision by the BBWAA to suspend Le Batard, rather than just ignore what happened, simply feeds into that.