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ESPN suspends Dan Le Batard for LeBron James billboard

Dan-Le-Batard-LeBron-billboard

Dan Le Batard has never been one to weigh the potential consequences of his actions before going through with them, which is one of the reasons he is more entertaining than a lot of other sports radio personalities. It’s also the reason he was given a long weekend by his employer this week.

On Thursday, ESPN released a statement announcing that Le Batard has been suspended for two days because of the funny billboard he paid for in Akron mocking LeBron James.

“Dan Le Batard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday,” the statement read. “His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”

I think everyone knows Le Batard’s publicity stunt does not reflect the views of ESPN, considering it was a joke that Le Batard and his father attached their names to. Le Batard even said earlier this week that it was all in good fun.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” he told Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

We know how protective of its image the World Wide Leader can be. But remember, Le Batard is the same guy who sacrificed his MLB Hall of Fame vote for life just to make a point. A two-day suspension won’t change him in any way.

Photo via @JeremyinAkron

Dan Le Batard trolls LeBron James with billboard

Dan-Le-Batard-LeBron-billboard

Dan Le Batard has finally figured out a way to take a very public shot at LeBron James. The Miami-based sports radio host and his co-hosts had been discussing ways to troll LeBron when he officially returns to Akron on Friday, but both the Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer rejected their proposed ad.

Fear not, LeBron haters — Le Batard and his father Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard found a billboard company in Akron that was willing to take their money.

In a text message to Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, Le Batard explained that the billboard is all in good fun and is simply meant to point out that LeBron never thanked Miami for the championships.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” Le Batard said. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

Like thousands handfuls of other fans in the Miami area, Le Batard is upset that LeBron left after winning two championships in four seasons. He knows the Heat wouldn’t have won the rings without LeBron. If you ask me, the joke is pretty funny. I bet even LeBron will laugh.

H/T DC Sports Bog
Photo via @JeremyinAkron

Dan Le Batard: LeBron’s wife didn’t want to leave Miami; Heat thought he was staying

LeBron James Savannah BrinsonDan Le Batard has become very well-versed on all things LeBron James over the past four years. And if you believe his take on the way LeBron left Miami to return to Cleveland, it sounds like LeBron’s people gave the Heat the runaround.

During an interview with Dan Patrick on Monday, Le Batard referred to LeBron’s decision to return to the Cavs as “masterstroke as a PR move.” He insists James made the switch more for PR than basketball reasons and even argued that LeBron’s people gave the Heat the impression the forward was staying.

Here are Le Batard’s thoughts on when LeBron made up his mind:

“Oh, it was before the end,” he told Patrick, as transcribed by The Big Lead. “I don’t think he does what he did — I don’t think he does that again to Cleveland, you know what I mean? — allows 10 days of hope, where he crushes Cleveland again. I think he knew before this. The Miami Heat have taken the high road on this, but it’s why they were behaving like a team that was going to get him — because they were misled by his guys.

“The Miami Heat were behaving like a team that was gonna get him back. They were doing everything, like they were gonna get him back. That’s because the agent for LeBron James [Rich Paul] made them feel like they were gonna get him back. You can’t have two teams behaving like they were gonna get him back.”

LeBron and his people probably were trying to leverage their situation against Pat Riley, but how could the Heat not have realized what LeBron was doing? I said the same thing Le Batard said all along — that LeBron wouldn’t give the people of Cleveland hope and not come back. His agent could have easily “leaked” some info to squash the Cavs rumors, but he never did. There was a reason for that, and Riley isn’t dumb. He had to have known.

[Read more...]

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.