As the entire world knows by now, ESPN personality and Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard was the Hall of Fame voter who handed over his ballot to Deadspin and allowed the public to determine his selections. Le Batard’s reasoning was simple: he felt like his vote was worthless because he couldn’t possibly determine which players actually used PEDs and which players didn't.
The controversial ballot has since been met with a wide range of responses. Many have shown support and expressed their understanding of the message he was hoping to convey. Others were less forgiving, suggesting Le Batard made a mockery of the voting process and the Hall of Fame itself. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which oversees the Hall of Fame's selection process, was of the latter opinion, citing that Le Batard irresponsibly transferred his Hall of Fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status.
On Wednesday, the BBWAA announced Le Batard's membership was suspended for one year and stripped of his Hall of Fame voting privileges. That constitutes a pretty strong message from the BBWAA, but it also leads to some interesting questions based on the latest twist in the story.
According to USA Today's For The Win sports blog, current BBWAA vice president Jose de Jesus Ortiz, who writes for Houston Chronicle, has admittedly and routinely crowd-sourced his Hall of Fame vote in the past and has never been so much as slapped on the wrist for his actions.
Here’s an excerpt from a past Ortiz blog post on Ultimate Astros inviting fans to help him:
I hope you come join me and a group of baseball fans to discuss the ballot and fill it out together. 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.
The question: What's the difference between Ortiz meeting with fans to get their input and Le Batard allowing Deadspin readers to cast votes?
When you step back and think about it, there really isn't much of a difference at all. Sure, the involvement of Deadspin brought more attention to Le Batard’s ballot, but he never really compromised the integrity of the process. In fact, Le Batard has since stated that he held the option to overwrite the Deadspin vote if the results were ridiculous. One way or the other, he was going to turn in what he felt was a legit ballot. He just decided the vote itself didn't mean a whole lot and wanted the world to know as well.
As Jesse Yomtov wrote in the USA Today post, it probably comes down to the BBWAA being embarrassed and feeling like Le Batard showed them up in a very public manner. If so, it's understandable where the anger comes from. But still, we're talking about the vice president of the BBWAA reaching out and interacting with the regular folks on the very subject of his Hall of Fame ballot.
The circumstances might be different. The hype might be different. The intentions were definitely different. But the action — right, wrong or misguided — is basically the same.
With that in mind, we'll lay these questions out there for you to comment on.
1. Did the BBWAA overreact by stripping Le Batard of his Hall of Fame vote?
2. Has the BBWAA set a double standard by punishing Le Batard and not Jose de Jesus Ortiz?
3. Are you satisfied with the BBWAA's decision and ready to move on?
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