Le Batard exposes flaws in Hall of Fame voting
He’s on a mission for reform. He’s sick of the guessing, wondering which members have been using drugs.
He doesn’t want to prematurely sentence certain individuals to purgatory while ensuring sanctimonious eminence to others when he has no clue if they’re of the same ilk.
And he’s right.
Dan Le Batard, long-time Miami Herald columnist and ESPN broadcaster, handed over his Baseball Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin for their readers to vote, in protest of the current system.
Furious with the guessing game of who used PEDs in an age where steroids and testosterone were rampant and testing was non-existent, Le Batard knew that players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had no chance.
What none of us know for sure is whether Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas, and others, were users.
It wasn’t until 2004 that testing began in Major League Baseball and even then, there were no punishments for first time offenders, nor would their names be made public.
For players like Jose Canseco, who was one of the first to admit usage — along with a list of others he wrote about in his book — it was an open secret. Many others were suspected, though no material evidence has ever been unearthed.
Bonds was never caught with PEDs, never tested positive (that anyone outside of the MLB front office knows of), nor was he ever suspended for PED use. Same goes with any of the names on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, though Bonds and Clemens are the only two singled out.
It’s generally believed that Bonds used steroids. His name was on documents found at the BALCO labs and his numbers are downright absurd.
Jeff Bagwell, who played during the peak of baseball’s PED era, hit 40+ home runs three separate seasons and 39 during another three seasons. Bagwell finished with 54 percent of votes after hitting one home run every 14.89 at bats from 1994 to 2003, his peak seasons.
Frank Thomas, who played during the steroid era, averaged one home run per 15 at bats from 1990-2006. He hit 40+ home runs five times in his career. Incredibly similar to Bonds.
Thomas was voted into baseball’s holy shrine with 83 percent of voters giving the nod.
Some with the honor of voting came forth with fervor Tuesday, calling it a “look at me” act, along with other subjective views.
But who among them disagree that the system needs to adapt for the era. And who among them could protest in a more powerful way?
What Dan Le Batard did may not have been the most stand-up way of dealing with things, but since when has an agent of change been accepted as politically correct?
The voting process has faced accusations of bias and is guilty of flawed methods which have been present throughout its existence. Though at no time has acceptance to Cooperstown been more problematic than in current day.
Voters are asked to consider character, integrity and sportsmanship. They are being asked to read into the minds and souls of players of whom they might not have covered. They are asked to be judge, jury, and in some cases, executioner.
All this based on hearsay, the prime prosecutorial tool of the kangaroo courts found in China and North Korea.
The system is flawed. Perhaps the players are more flawed. While there might be a classier form of protest than what Le Batard showcased, he wasn’t wrong.
And now Dan Le Batard is being judged for his actions in the same manner of potential Hall of Famers — in the court of public opinion — with no crystal-clear moral ground. No evidence that he brushed his teeth this morning, other than the sheen viewers see on television.
Sheen similar to a 420-foot home run.
Despite the opinion that certain players used PEDs, the lack of overall evidence makes it unfair to exclude some and include others. It’s contempt prior to investigation, guilty until proven guilty.
If that form of thought is wrong, then Dan Le Batard is right.