Friday Podcast: Deadspin and the Hall of Fame

Al Bello

Alex Hall goes on the Phil Naessens Show to talk Hall of Fame baseball.

Good morning, Athletics Nation! The Hall of Fame election is over, and the museum has added Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and 74% of Craig Biggio to its ranks. I promise, this will be the last Hall of Fame article!

On this week's Phil Naessens Show, we discuss the recent election, the snub of Biggio, and the Deadspin ballot. My segment leads off and goes for about 23 minutes.

I want to add a little bit about the Deadspin ballot. There were lots of opinions flying around when the story first broke, and initial reports had a voter selling a ballot to the website. As it turns out, Dan Le Batard did not receive any money for his vote, and simply wanted to make a statement about the process. As I sit here and read others writers rip him apart for his actions, I have to be honest -- I don't really understand what the big deal is.

First off, I don't even see what Le Batard has done wrong. There is nothing in the written law, or spirit thereof, that suggests that a voter can't ask for outside help when making his or her selections. At least one other writer has asked for public help in the past and it's never been a problem, points out Jesse Yomtov of USA Today. All that Le Batard did was crowdsource his ballot, and that is in no way against the rules.

More importantly, the ballot came out really well. I mean, it was almost perfect. The top three vote-getters were the three guys who the writers elected in real life. The next two guys were also fourth and fifth in the real voting, just in reverse order. And every other player on the ballot is a candidate who I would have voted for, and a candidate with a legitimate Hall of Fame case. They even left off Jack Morris. The fans did not return a joke ballot with just Armando Benitez and J.T. Snow. They ended up with a completely legitimate ballot which doesn't look at all out of place. No, even more than that. They ended up with one of the best ballots.

So, where is the problem? The voter asked the crowd for help. He didn't sell his vote or let malicious outside forces coerce him (like getting paid by a candidate on the ballot in exchange for voting for him), so there is no real corruption in that sense. The crowd ended up casting an excellent ballot, so the process was respected and the results were not confounded by a "whole bunch of kids along to disrupt the game by playing with a completely different set of rules," as one writer put it. Where is the foul?

Now, I'm not suggesting that fans should get a say in Hall of Fame voting in the future, at least not for the time being. Public All-Star voting has shown that stupid things happen in popularity contests, even though the midsummer results have gotten better in recent years. What I am suggesting is that Le Batard not only did nothing wrong by getting fan help on his vote, but that the public poll showed that a lot of casual fans take this process way more seriously than do a lot of the actual voters. You may argue that the ends (a good ballot) don't justify the means (giving your vote to a questionable or unreliable body), but I would counter that the means really weren't that ridiculous.

Le Batard had his Hall vote stripped yesterday. That's probably not a big deal, since he seemed resigned to that consequence all along and doesn't seem to mind. I can't help but wonder, though. Is Le Batard being punished for breaking an actual rule, or just for stepping out of line and criticizing the powers that be? Instead of disciplining Le Batard, the BBWAA should be listening to him.

By all means, though, go in and add a rule for next year disallowing voters to give up their ballots. But as long as you're making changes, perhaps we can talk about this 10-player maximum...

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