It's not a great day to be the PR person for the Baseball Writer's Association of America. As has often become the case this time of year, the BBWAA is getting beat up by baseball fans who don't think it does a well enough job managing the Hall of Fame voting process.
The news of Miami Herald columnist/ESPN personality Dan Le Batard giving his ballot to Deadspin, which intended to create a mockery of the voting process, made Wednesday even worse for the BBWAA. Instead of being a day that celebrates the great talents who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, the Le Batard fiasco amplified the discussion about the voting process.
So, what does the BBWAA have to say? At first, it was crickets. The New York Daily News reported that Jack O'Connell, the BBWAA's secretary-treasurer, would not comment on the Le Batard/Deadspin matter.
However, LaVelle E. Neal III, the president of the BBWAA and the Minnesota Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, talked about the controversial ballot in a video with Michael Rand. (You can watch the whole thing here).
"When you accept a baseball writers' card, there's a certain way you need to go about your business, a certain conduct you need to have at all times," Neal said. "It's disappointing that someone would decide to manipulate his vote in that way."
Keep in mind that this isn't an official statement from the BBWAA, rather the president of the board offering his personal opinion. It's under his newspaper's masthead, not the BBWAA's.
Neal did say there have already been "substantive discussions" about what punishment Le Batard will face. Le Batard already said he expects to lose his voting privileges. He wrote in the Deadspin reveal:
... 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.
ESPN, meanwhile, didn't take immediate action against Le Batard. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement:
"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."
Back to the BBWAA: Neal, in his Star Tribune video, also said the organization is thinking about expanding the number of allowable votes. Right now, each voter can select up to 10 players, regardless of how many are on the ballot. The BBWAA also formed a committee earlier this winter, Neal said, to explore any necessary changes to the voting procedures.
"I think the voting system is great," Neal said. "Like anything, you can look at ways to tweak it and improve it."
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