We already learned the results of the 2014 Hall of Fame voting — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are in, Craig Biggio is out (by two votes) and the PED guys don't look any closer to making it to Cooperstown. Wednesday's other big reveal? We finally got the full story of Deadspin's effort to poke the BBWAA in the eye and upend the Hall of Fame voting practice.
You'll recall that Deadspin "bought" a Hall of Fame ballot from one BBWAA voter (one of the 571 cast this year). The snarky sports blog then promised to turn the ballot over to its readers in an effort to make a "mockery and farce" of the voting process. When the actual Hall of Fame results were announced, Deadspin promised it would reveal who it got the ballot from and what that voter's motives were.
His motives? Le Batard outlined a number of reasons in his explainer on Deadspin. Among them: He feels like his vote is worthless. He doesn't know who used PEDS and who didn't. He hates the moralizing and hypocrisy of the Hall of Fame, but he loves the anarchy of this idea. Also: He didn't get any money from Deadspin. He turned it over free to charge.
A few choice passages:
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 ...
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's has already been hit with the expected criticism. Stuff like this:
Shame on the santimonious attention seeker who turned his vote over to a website. #sad
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 8, 2014
Two points that I think are important to make:
1. Statement ballots aren't uncommon
On Tuesday, a whole different subsection of baseball pundits were a few tweets away from turning into a lynch mob after MLB.com's Ken Gurnick revealed his statement ballot. He voted for Jack Morris, nobody else, because he wouldn't vote for anyone from the PED era. There are a number of things wrong with his thinking — as The Stew pointed out at the time — but the point is, Gurnick was making a statement about the Hall of Fame voting process just like Le Batard was. (For the record, Jon Heyman defended Gurnick, saying he "earned the right" to vote the way he did.) If you don't think grandstanding was part of the Hall of Fame voting process before Deadspin got involved, you're wrong.
2. Deadspin's ballot was just fine
Deadspin revealed the 10 players its constitutes voted for — Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martínez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling. That's a perfectly reasonable ballot. Deadspin also detailed the voting its readers did. As you might expect from an anonymous online vote where people aren't limited to 10 players, the figures were more inflated than the actual Hall of Fame vote, but nothing categorically absurd happened. Mark McGwire got a lot more votes. Jack Morris got fewer. Craig Biggio would have made it. So would have Piazza. But it's not like they voted in Jacque Jones and Paul Lo Duca, like some doomsday predictors expected.
One more thing: Before anybody rips Le Batard or Deadspin too hard, be mindful that Gurnick's ballot was closer to anarchy. Biggio — a player that most people believe is a Hall of Famer — didn't make it by two votes. Gurnick was one of them. So that's a case where Deadspin and its readers were right while Gurnick and his statement ballot were wrong.
This isn't black and white. None of these people — the folks Deadspin, Le Batard and Gurnick — are 100 percent right or 100 percent wrong. Meanwhile, almost every baseball fan would agree that the Hall of Fame voting process need fixing, or at the very least examining. Le Batard and Gurnick thought so too and, through very different actions, did something about it.
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