“Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable.” That’s the name of his ESPN2 show, and describes succinctly how I feel about his recent decision to give away his MLB Hall of Fame (HOF) ballot. Le Batard handed over his ballot to sports news website DeadSpin.com, which allowed its readers to make the final votes through a polling system on their website. Late last week, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) announced that they will suspend Le Batard’s membership for a year, and that he will not be allowed to vote for future Hall of Famers ever again.
“Highly questionable” is probably the most polite way to describe how I feel about this. It’s, frankly, an asinine and absurd thing to do. It is a shriek for more national recognition. It is a intentional disregard for the rules he promised to abide by, in an age when the rules of the game are taking a backseat. Ultimately, it is an insult to veterans of the game of baseball and its surrounding media. Granted, the Deadspin readers ultimately decided on a valid, respectable slate: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling. What’s so bad about that?
First of all, it is Le Batard’s way of putting his name in everyone’s mouth. He’s a self-important media superstar, raking in money from his radio and TV shows. But — show of hands — how many of you knew who this guy was before this whole fiasco? I cannot imagine many. Now he opines that it was “worth it,” to forever lose his HOF vote over something so stupid. I am glad he thinks so, because his apathy shows just how undeserving he was. Regardless of his contentions with the process, which I will get to in just a moment, he has plenty of other platforms for expressing this view. This was a publicity stunt, nothing else.
That said, Le Batard should do what he vowed to do in respecting the rules of the game and the voting process. In a statement featured on DeadSpin, he derided the HOF for “shutting the door” on players who use steroids and claimed passing the buck was a form of protest. Guess what, Dan? Using steroids is against the rules, and it does nothing other than diminish the players who built their careers with clean blood and a clear conscience. Those are the guys who deserve the Hall of Fame, not cheaters. This is especially true in a time when the ADD generation wants to change the rules of the game to “spice it up.”
Le Batard spit in the face of his colleagues by intentionally disregarding their rules and guidelines, rather than using one of his many national-scale outlets to share his opinion on this issue. Worst of all, he spit in the face of the legends of the game who would do just about anything to have the honor of filling out a HOF ballot. Bob Costas, a 30-year veteran of sportscasting doesn’t get a vote. Vin Scully, the 65-season play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers doesn’t get a vote. They’re obviously more deserving, and presumably wouldn’t use their ballot to make a statement. The BBWAA’s decision to revoke Le Batard’s vote was the right one. He doesn’t deserve the accolades if he values making a scene over the sanctity of a nearly 80-year-old institution. It is been around way before him, and it will be around way after.