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Opinion: Dan Le Batard throws away Hall of Fame vote

It is no secret that Major League Baseball is outdated. The league has been criticized for years by fans and reporters for its reluctance to change, including its Hall of Fame voting process.

Earlier this month, Miami Herald columnist and ESPN personality Dan Le Batard protested this process by giving his Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin.com, who then allowed their readers to decide which players would be put on Le Batard’s ballot.

Le Batard got his vote by being a member of The Baseball Writers’ Association of America, a group of reporters who have voted players into the Hall of Fame since its inauguration in 1936. Those eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame must be listed on 75 percent of the ballots cast.

Le Batard said his reason for protesting is the hypocrisy of only allowing the BBWAA to vote on the Hall of Fame. Also, that the Association has become sanctimonious by not voting for players because of their connection to the “steroid era.”

The BBWAA banned Le Batard for one year Jan. 12 and barred him from ever voting on the Hall of Fame again.

Le Batard expected that to happen. He also expected that his protest would create a large enough spectacle to bring “anarchy” to Hall of Fame voting.

He failed to do this for a number of reasons.

In a year that had 16 reporters inexcusably deciding not to vote for former Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux, including Los Angeles Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick, who chose to only vote for former Detroit Tigers Jack Morris, the ballot Deadspin readers’ submitted for Le Batard was far from provocative.

The 10 players on Le Batard’s ballot were Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martínez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling.

While some might argue this list proved fans are just as capable as BBWAA members at selecting Hall of Famers, it did absolutely nothing to accomplish Le Batard and Deadspin’s goal of making a mockery out of the Hall of Fame. If Le Batard was throwing away his vote to prove how worthless they have become, the least he could have done was fill out a ballot that got people’s attention.

His next mistake was teaming up with Deadspin on one of their lamest projects to date. After spending 23 years building credibility and integrity as a sportswriter, Le Batard decided to abandon his nationally syndicated TV and radio programs to work with a site traditional reporters notoriously hate. Going with Deadspin left the door open to more ridicule than necessary and fellow BBWAA members have not held back.

The sad truth is baseball is resistant to change.

The BBWAA is not going anywhere. Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers beat reporter who left anyone involved in the steroid era of baseball off his ballot, still has a vote and Le Batard does not.

Le Batard is a fine reporter who had good intentions, but he completely overestimated this stunt, mistaking a mild look-at-me story for anarchical protest. In many ways, this already feels like old news.

One comment

  1. Wasn’t working with a site that traditional reporters hate (most of the hate coming from those who work for ESPN) exactly the way to get attention? Had he tried to do this through ESPN they either would have A. Shut it down or B. Turned it into a giant PR stunt for their own network. Let’s also not forget that Deadspin was the party who initiated this transaction. They asked several reporters for a vote and proved the point they were trying to make; that normal fans can make as informed or in this case more informed decisions on Hall of Fame voting than traditional baseball writers (who in essence are really just glorified fans themselves).

    He didn’t throw his vote away, the people who didn’t vote for Maddux however, did. The baseball Hall of Fame and its voting process were talked about on more major networks and shows than anytime in the last 20 years. I think he did exactly what he set out to do.

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