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Monday, October 20, 2014

Dan Le Batard gave his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin in protest of process

Dan Le Batard Hall of Fame vote

The sports website Deadspin made it known that they were looking to purchase a Hall of Fame vote for the 2014 ballot in order to turn the vote over to their readers. Their initial attempt to secure a ballot fell through, so they ended up with another person’s ballot. That person turned out to be Dan Le Batard.

Le Batard is a longtime Miami Herald columnist, ESPN The Magazine writer, host of a sports radio show in Miami and the host of “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable” on ESPN2. He explained in a well-reasoned essay to Deadspin why he decided to turn over his vote to the website and its readers.

Here is his explanation to Deadspin. It’s a very good explanation in my opinion:

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 this competition-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.

Le Batard was not paid to give his vote to the site.

The 10 players Deadspin/Le Batard voted for — based on how readers of the site voted — were Greg Maddux (98.3%), Frank Thomas (92.6%), Tom Glavine (92.1%), Mike Piazza (81.7%), Craig Biggio (78.1%), Edgar Martinez (69.9%), Jeff Bagwell (66.8%), Roger Clemens (66.6%), Barry Bonds (64.9%) and Curt Schilling (58.9%).

I voted at Deadspin because I felt that as a lifelong baseball fan, I wanted my opinion to count, too. I think the voters did a pretty good job, but they were way too generous with some seriously undeserving players like Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Armando Benitez, J.T. Snow and Jacque Jones, who all received more than 4% of votes. Maybe those were anarchists trying to make some sort of stupid statement. You can see the full Deadspin results here.



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