It is easy for a fan, or a sports columnist or even a business owner to lament the slow process. But their concerns are not the same as the concerns of the BBWAA or the HOF itself.
That brings us to the hand wringing and self-serving concerns of the critics. For years now they have been lamenting that the process is flawed. They complain that BBWAA rules allow only 10 votes per ballot. They lament that the steroid users will never be inducted. Some of the more extreme ones predict that Cooperstown itself will be damaged forever because of the “flawed process.”
This year those critics have had their concerns taken up by a flawed standard bearer: ESPN personality and columnist Dan Le Batard. Le Batard, whose radio show is heard on 730 AM in Oneonta, decided to protest by allowing the readers of a website, deadspin.com, to fill out his ballot. The website had been looking to buy a ballot for its readers; Le Batard agreed to give them his as long as no money actually changed hands. In a case of awful timing, he announced this on Jan. 8, right after the ballot results had been announced, taking some of the spotlight away from Maddux, Glavine and Thomas.
In response, the BBWAA suspended Le Bartard’s membership and has barred him permanently from voting. We think this was fair punishment. We like his shows and often find him entertaining, but in this instance, we think he was wrong.
The ballot that the readers produced was actually fine. Perhaps proving Le Batard’s point, the ballot was better than some of the ones that were produced by other BBWAA writers. But we still think the move hurt the credibility of the ballot itself.
Le Batard and his few defenders have pointed out that some of the other BBWAA voters are not current baseball writers. It was a good point; unfortunately for him it was probably his only good point. The other reasons he cited were less credible: he was upset that Maddux was not a unanimous pick and that Barry Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame.