Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dan Le Batard Gave Me His Vote and Got Banned For It

Editor's Note: It's been announced that Dan Le Batard has been stripped of any future Hall of Fame vote and barred from the Baseball Writer's Association for one year. Also, statements appearing below in quotations are generalized statements and not actual quotes.

By Justin Cates

It's funny how little it often takes for the sporting press to lose its damn mind.

In this particular case, Dan Le Batard of ESPN and the Miami Herald created the stir amongst his peers by giving his vote for the baseball Hall of Fame to readers of sports website and athlete 'sext' aggregator Deadspin.

Full disclosure, from the very beginning I thought this was a marvelous idea and not just because I'm a regular reader Deadspin.

Baseball writers by and large desperately hold on to the antiquated notion of baseball as a sacred game. Baseball, apple pies and Chevrolet. America's pastime.

They long for baseball's "golden age" completely ignoring the fact that African-Americans weren't allowed to play in the majors back then. They decry "performance enhancing drugs" while lauding anybody who gets shot up with cortisone—a steroid commonly used to reduce joint inflammation, attendant pain and swelling—as a "gamer" for being so "tough".

Writers commonly ignore that rampant drug abuse in baseball dates back at least to the start of the modern age of baseball, which was around 1960.

Mickey Mantle is my favorite baseball player of all time, but if you don't think he was working through countless hangovers by taking enough amphetamines to kill a horse, well, we disagree.

Who appointed these writers as the arbiters of baseball morality anyway?

Oh that's right, they did.

There are no rules in the Hall of Fame voting guidelines that explicitly prevent writers from voting for players that used steroids. 

They created this criteria themselves because baseball just loves unwritten rules.

As it turns out, there's actually a National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame. I checked out the members to see what kind of warped double standard was applied there and to my horror, there doesn't seem to be one.

Recent inductees include Bob Ryan, John Feinstein and Peter Gammons. Fine writers all but an outrage for the Hall of Fame!

How dare they induct men who wrote during the word processor era! It's completely unfair. Can you imagine what Grantland Rice would have done with spell-check and a laptop computer?

He probably would have written an insufferable poem.

Now, let's get back to Mr. Le Batard.

People are absolutely crucifying him. I will address a few of the more laughable criticisms as follows.

"He only did this for publicity."

Dan only attached his name to this protest as a means of owning the thing. If he'd remained anonymous, you know damn well the rallying cry would have been, "COWARD! If you're going to pull a stunt like this at least put your name on it!"

"Spare us the sanctimonious diatribe Danny boy."

You guys keep using that word...I do not think it means what you think it means.

Sanctimonious-Making a hypocritical show of religion, piety or righteousness.

I don't think Le Batard ever claimed he was one hundred percent right. He just feels that the process is dumb and too many people are clinging to it. Arguably, many of the folks so vehemently defending the old way are being far more self-righteous than he ever was with statements like...

"The media covering baseball everyday are more qualified than fans to judge these things, that's why there's no fan vote."

If you mean former players with a press pass, okay. However, if you mean some schlub from the Times who once saw Tom Glavine remove his jock strap with the grace and precision of a champion...stop, just stop.

You didn't glean any magical insight from getting quotes in a locker room that I watched simulcast on the YES Network.

"He's making a mockery of the Hall of Fame voting process."

No, he's not. That's done just fine every year by other voters like Ken Gurnick who this year voted only for Jack Morris. He left the other nine spots blank because he claimed he didn't want to vote for "steroid-era" players even though Morris finished his career during that same era.

Which brings me to my final point. Did anyone even look at the ballot submitted by Le Batard?

Most Deadspin voters took it seriously, I among them.

I voted after looking at everyone's numbers—I even looked up Armando Benitez—checking out highlights when possible and looking at a bio here and there.

The compiled website ballot was Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling.

It would appear the joke, the farce, the travesty of a vote actually included all of the inductees.

That's a lot better than some voters.

I'm looking at you Gurnick.

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