• AP Photo/Miami Herald, Al Diaz
  • Dan Le Batard in 2003

Moving backward in time . . .

The Baseball Writers Association of America punishes Dan Le Batard of ESPN and the Miami Herald by stripping him of his Hall of Fame vote for life. “The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable,” says Thursday’s announcement. Le Batard had turned his ballot over to Deadspin, which turned it over to its readers.

Baseball writer Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says what he thinks of Le Batard: “What exactly did this act do to show us how absurd the process was, because if you look at the readers’ input on his ballot, it mirrors exactly the way the rest of the Hall of Fame voters voted. And I hate this, because we’re in a world now where we’re constantly battling from the outside people who want to attack the credibility of journalists. And now here you are, one of the most credible journalists in the business and you do something that absolutely just tears apart and chips away and erodes our business’s image. To me it’s inexcusable. I’m sorry, whatever his explanation is it’s not a good one. You can’t do that.”

Le Batard explains why he did it. “I hate all the moralizing we do in sports in general, but I especially hate the hypocrisy in this: Many of the gatekeeper voters denying Barry Bonds Hall of Fame entry would have they themselves taken a magical, healing, not-tested-for-in-their-workplace elixir if it made them better at their jobs, especially if lesser talents were getting the glory and money. Lord knows I’d take the elixir for our ESPN2 TV show if I could.

“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.”

And Deadspin explains why it did it. “We had two principal aims. The first was to draw attention to how ridiculous the Hall of Fame elections have become. With an electorate comprising a subset of a subset of a subset of the baseball press and a 75 percent threshold for entry into the Hall, the process has been hijacked by cranks, attention-seeking trolls, and the merely perplexed—people who exercise power out of proportion to their numbers due to the perverse structure of the voting. . . .The second was to turn a small bit of power over to the public for the sake of doing so. Much of the reason why the Hall of Fame process has become so contentious is that it’s plainly absurd that veteran baseball writers get a say denied to everyone else from Bill James to small children.”

Deadspin explains why it is shopping for a ballot. “The Hall of Fame ritual has become, more than anything else, a way for an electorate dominated by neo-Puritan scolds, milquetoast handwringers, and straight-out dimwits to show how high its standards are by telling people like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, and Curt Schilling that they’re just not good enough. What was meant as a way to honor great ballplayers is now an annual exercise in vigorously insulting them, and thereby asserting the power of the baseball writer. This is awful, especially when it gets into the area of dumbfuck epistemology.”

Early warning that Deadspin isn’t showing the Hall of Fame vote proper respect. (We’re back to 2010 now.) “In all the foofaraw over the HOF elections, one voter stands above the rest in terms of sheer ineptitude and self-promotion. Let’s ridicule them! But first, the runners up: Second runner-up: Jay Mariotti . . .”