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BBWAA vice president Jose de Jesus Ortiz asked fans for help with his Hall of Fame ballot

Jose-de-Jesus-OrtizEarlier this week, prominent sports columnist and radio host Dan Le Batard revealed that he turned his Hall of Fame ballot over to Deadspin to allow fans to determine who he would vote for. On Thursday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America punished Le Batard by stripping him of his Hall of Fame voting privileges for life. But was Le Batard’s stunt unheard of?

As USA Today pointed out, BBWAA vice president Jose de Jesus Ortiz openly invited readers of his blog to join him at a Mexican restaurant and help him fill out his Hall of Fame ballot in 2007.

“I hope you come join me and a group of baseball fans to discuss the ballot and fill it out together,” Ortiz wrote on his Houston Chronicle blog at the time. “Ever since I earned my first ballot, I vowed to always fill it out with the help and guidance of the readers who know as much and sometimes even more about the history of the game. Last year I filled it out with a Texas Supreme Court Judge, several big-time lawyers in town and my father in-law.

“This time I’ve invited some of my regular blog readers and some of the toughest baseball critics in Houston. Please come help me again this year.”

Uh oh — what now? Le Batard openly admitted that he turned his ballot over to Deadspin in protest of the process. He wrote a well-reasoned essay explaining how he believes the system is broken, but that’s not what the BBWAA said he was punished for.

“The BBWAA Board of Directors has decided to remove Dan Le Batard’s membership for one year, for transferring his Hall of Fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status,” the BBWAA said in a statement on Thursday.

Ortiz included the Hall of Fame ballot in his 2007 blog post and offered to bring copies of it to distribute to those who joined him. He also said he would forward the ballot and each player’s bio to anyone that acquired via email.

Clearly, we’re dealing with hypocrisy on some level. Was Le Batard punished for what he did or for his intention? If it was the former, it would seem that Ortiz should lose his Hall of Fame voting privilege as well.

Photo via Twitter/Jose de Jesus Ortiz

Dan Le Batard stripped of Hall of Fame vote for life, all awards voting for a year

Dan Le BatardIn a move that most saw coming, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America stripped Dan Le Batard of his Hall of Fame vote for life on Thursday. His membership to the BBWAA was also revoked for one year, meaning the longtime sports columnist and radio host will not be allowed to vote for any MLB awards next season.

Here is the full statement from the BBWAA:

The BBWAA Board of Directors has decided to remove Dan Le Batard’s membership for one year, for transferring his Hall of Fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status. The punishment is allowed under the organization’s constitution.

In addition, Le Batard will not be allowed to vote on Hall of Fame candidates from this point on.

The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable.

-BBWAA President La Velle E. Neal III
January 9, 2014

Le Batard turned his 2014 Hall of Fame ballot vote over to Deadspin, where fans voted and the top 10 vote getters received a Hall of Fame vote on Le Batard’s ballot. He explained his decision to protest the process in a well-reasoned essay and has been criticized by a number of sports personalities for his decision.

As LB mentioned earlier this week, we agree with Le Batard’s reasoning. The process has been tainted by voters who have the power to keep deserving players out of the Hall of Fame strictly because they suspect those players used steroids. As a result, players have not been evaluated equally based on their on-field performance. If nothing else, Le Batard’s defiance brings attention to an issue that desperately needs it.

Tony Kornheiser, Mike Wilbon rip Dan Le Batard for giving vote to Deadspin

Mike WilbonYou want to hear some grade-A level ESPN-on-ESPN crime? Take a listen to the audio above from Wednesday’s episode of “Pardon the Interruption.”

Hosts Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon ripped colleague Dan Le Batard to shreds for giving his Baseball Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin. They describe the move as ego-driven and ponder if Le Batard is to blame for Craig Biggio not getting in. Kornheiser also calls Le Batard an anarchist for his move.

The whole thing is funny and I believe they make some fair points, but I don’t have a problem with what Le Batard did, for reasons explained here.

I will disagree with them on one major point: by choosing the forum he did, I think Le Batard’s message reached more people than it would have otherwise, regardless of his personal or promotional motivations.

ESPN comments on Dan Le Batard giving Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin

Dan Le BatardOne of the major concerns for writers who were considering selling or giving their Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin was the potential loss of their job. Dan Le Batard gave his vote to Deadspin without knowing what kind of backlash he might receive from his employers. It sounds like ESPN disagrees with his actions, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to discipline him.

Shortly after it was revealed that Le Batard gave his vote away to Deadpin, ESPN commented on his actions.

“We respect and appreciate Dan’s opinions and passion about Hall of Fame voting. He received his vote while at the Miami Herald. We wouldn’t have advocated his voting approach, which we were just made aware of today,” ESPN said in a statement to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.

That seems like a pretty soft stance by them, which I think is fair. Le Batard will almost assuredly lose his Baseball Writers Association vote because of what he did, but I don’t see why ESPN would have a reason to discipline him.

Le Batard was looking to make a statement and he is advocating change to the process. I agree with his feelings on the change that is needed. Mainly, I want the Hall of Fame to get rid of its outdated morals clause and to create a
“Steroids Wing” so that all players from the Steroids Era will be judged solely by what they did on the field. It’s wrong to put writers in the position of picking and choosing who they think did steroids and who didn’t; players should all be evaluated equally.

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:

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ESPN Summit: Good Idea, Bad TV

Waiting for the second game of the College World Series to begin, I wound up watching a trial balloon show on ESPN that was sandwiched between the end of the 6pm ET SportsCenter and the 7:30pm ET start time in Omaha. After a few moments I realized this was the same program Dan Le Batard’s referenced in a chat that was picked up by The Big Lead a few weeks ago. I wound up trying to watch the program but had a difficult time enjoying it for several reasons.

Let me start by saying that the ironic nature of ESPN putting together their star players for a free agent summit was funny in itself. Secondly, assembling the hosts of PTI Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, along with two humorous debaters in Dan Le Batard and Bill Simmons would make you think the program had to be good. Unfortunately it wasn’t that good and it turned out to be a visual issue of “not enough basketballs to go around.”

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