Months ago the widely popular website Deadspin.com made headlines on their own site and other blogs letting their readers and members of the baseball writers association know that they wanted to but writers Hall of Fame votes. While it appears they were not able to secure multiple writers they did secure one.
The writer that did hand over his vote was ESPN personality and Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard. If that isn’t a shocker to you I’m not sure what would shock you, maybe Peter Gammons or Tim Kurkjian turning over theirs would be more shocking. But for a front and center personality to give up their vote in order to make a mockery of the process, that is big news.
Here is what Le Batard said to Deadspin about his reasoning to give them his vote. He did not take any retribution for the vote.
I feel like my vote has gotten pretty worthless in the avalanche of sanctimony that has swallowed it.
I have no earthly idea if Jeff Bagwell or Frank Thomas did or didn’t use steroids.
I think I understand why the steroid guys were the steroid guys in thiscompetition-aholic culture.
I hate all the moralizing we do in sports in general, but I especially hate the hypocrisy in this: Many of the gatekeeper voters denying Barry Bonds Hall Of Fame entry would have they themselves taken a magical, healing, not-tested-for-in-their-workplace elixir if it made them better at their jobs, especially if lesser talents were getting the glory and money. Lord knows I’d take the elixir for our ESPN2 TV show if I could.
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.
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.
I’ve become a more and more lenient voter over the years, often allowing the max 10 guys in a year, and I wanted to put in more this year. I happen to agree with most of the reader selections. I was afraid you guys were going to have me voting for Jacque Jones and no one else. I was kind of surprised this particular snark-land respected the process. I found it impossible to limit it this year to 10, but 10 was all that was allowed, so thanks for the help. But why limit it to 10 in a year that has more than 10 worthy candidates, by the way? How dumb is that?
And my final reason: I always like a little anarchy inside the cathedral we’ve made of sports.
I’m not sure what kind of trouble this is going to bring me. I imagine I’ll probably have my vote stripped. But I don’t want to be a part of the present climate without reform anyway. Given that climate, doing THIS has more impact than my next 20 years of votes as sanctimony bars the HOF door on the steroid guys. Because, in a climate without reform, my next 20 years of votes will be counted but not actually heard. At least this gets it heard, for better or for worse.
So there you have it. Le Batard wants to make a mockery of the selection process, to cause a little anarchy inside the cathedral and you know what? Good for him. The selection process has always been a popularity contests among the elders of the baseball writers association. The steroid era guys will never get in, not with the current crop of voters. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both rumored steroid users got 35% and 34% of the vote. In the Deadspin vote which allowed the readers to vote on Le Batard’s ballot Clemens and Bonds got to 66% and 64% of the vote.
Having said that it appears people want the steroid era guys to have a shot at the hall. It appears that is what Deadspin and Le Batard were trying to show you have to vote in guys regardless of the era of the game. The era should be compared to the players that played in it. It is so hard to tell who was using and who wasn’t anymore. If it wasn’t for the steroids and the summer of 1998 baseball wouldn’t be as popular as it is today. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa going back and forth excited the entire country, that summer should be in the Hall of Fame.
Then you have guys like Ken Griffey Jr. who has never been linked to PED’s and yet was still regarded as one of the best players in baseball and during the steroid era. How do you compare his numbers to users? And how do you compare users to clean guys? It is impossible, everyone should have a shot at getting in.
Causing anarchy is exactly what this will do. Surely Le Batard will lose his vote and be dismissed from the baseball writers association. What will happen to him at ESPN and the Miami Herald is yet to be seen. Personally I applaud what they did here, sometimes you have to go against the grain.
Congrats to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas on their inductions into the Hall of Fame. Maddux was nearly a unanimous pick but of course some writers can’t let that happen. And as for Jack Morris who at least one writer put on their ballot instead of Maddux. He isn’t Hall of Fame caliber, get over it.