The BBWAA, an organization who had most of its voting members sit idly by without challenge for much of the steroid era, pounced swiftly into action today. The BBWAA revoked Dan Le Batard’s Hall of Fame voting permanently, and removed his credentials for a year from covering baseball games. Sometimes, thought and calculation should be employed, and if you are angry, sometimes you need to take a step back before taking action that may prove fool hardy.
What, was there going to be some other vote for the Hall of Fame two days from now that demanded immediate action? Was there going to be a baseball game played this week?
The problem is that–if Dan Le Batard did not receive monetary compensation– then it is a fine line to draw between what happened when he voted in line with a “wisdom of the crowds” Deadspin poll, and what happens with a lot of ballots.
The early reports are that he was not paid, even though Deadspin originally sought to buy a vote. Le Batard probably doesn’t need a few thousand from Deadspin, but inquire and investigate into that. See if that is actually true. If he was paid, then, setting aside the politics and specifics of the vote, that’s an issue that should result in censure. It raises a whole host of issues, when it comes to the selling of a vote for gain. Could a player buy a bloc of votes? Could a team or fan base come together to purchase favor? We don’t want that, and so banning him if he is profiting off the vote is reasonable.
If he did not get paid, though, not much divides what Dan Le Batard did and what a whole host of sportswriters have and will do when it comes to their Hall of Fame votes. For example, here’s Richard Justice saying that one writer in Houston has asked for fan help in filling out the ballot in the past. I’m assuming he will now have that vote stripped as well.
That’s not going to happen of course. There is nothing inherently wrong with a writer taking information from others. Would a writer be so bad as to actually represent his readers and utilize their collective views? I guess based on today’s actions, a writer in a local market cannot run a poll to gauge the views of the people he or she serves. Also, writers should stop changing their minds so much, because we see, year after year, the voting numbers change in ways that are not explained solely by the maximum vote limits.
What Dan Le Batard did is at the very heart of American journalism’s long history–protest. He’s not the only one in the BBWAA who is doing this, from a variety of different angles and viewpoints. Are you telling me that the guy who didn’t vote for anyone honestly believed that there was no player who was as good as Hall of Famers from the past? No. It was a protest vote. I’m also pretty sure that blank nothingness is an entity that has also not earned voting status.
What about those that only voted for Jack Morris, upset by him not getting in, and thus refused to vote anyone else? They are engaging in the same behavior, doing mental gymnastics with the integrity of what they really believe about a player, in favor of a higher form of protest to achieve a goal. How about everyone that is refusing to vote for anyone even remotely suspected (fairly or not) or being involved in steroids? Protest vote. The entire history of first ballot Hall of Famers is one giant protest vote from a small bloc of voters. “My favorite childhood idol who was clearly a Hall of Famer didn’t get in with 100% of the vote? Neither will yours. ”
So Le Batard is right in line with the basic ethos of protest when he says:
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.
Yeah, maybe he’s grand standing, maybe he is just like so many others on the opposite side of the aisle. I’m not saying I agree with how this went down. When it comes to the BBWAA, though, I think they are fools who took prompt action when reflection may have been the proper course. Without Le Batard receiving remuneration, they just indicted themselves. The BBWAA doth protest too much, methinks. Le Batard seems perfectly suited to continue the tradition.