I told myself that I wouldn’t get worked up about this year’s National Baseball Hall of Fame voting. But I’ve also told myself that I’d stop drinking, eat healthier and swear less, and dropping a couple of F-bombs at the local watering hole over a beer (or two) and a pizza is still ingrained in my weekly schedule.
So, here goes.
The current state of affairs stinks. Hall of Fame voting is more about each voter’s ideologies than it is about the candidates’ on-field resume. The result is someone voting for one player, others voting for the maximum 10 players and one guy going rogue and offering his ballot to Deadspin. All that’s missing are clowns and trapeze artists, and at this point, I’m not ruling anything out. A squirting flower or an endless handkerchief would at least make me giggle.
Now, do I have a solution to this whole situation that’s going to knock your socks off? Nope. Frankly, I think we’re destined for 20 or so years — however long it takes for the Steroid Era players to get filtered through the wringer — of annoyance. The 2040 Hall of Fame voting won’t be as riddled with performance-enhancing drug dilemmas as long as Major League Baseball continues to crack down on steroid use. We should someday have a smoother voting process — or at least one that doesn’t make you want to mix cyanide into your morning coffee — by virtue of time passing.
Dan Le Batard offering up his ballot to Deadspin, which led to the ESPN employee losing his Hall of Fame vote, could someday be like someone’s idiot buddy streaking down the street for five bucks. Both decisions were dumb and both were cries for attention, but at the end of the day, we can laugh, because who really cares? We lived to tell about it.
The Baseball Hall of Fame will live to tell about this age of insanity, even if some players who deserve enshrinement don’t get in because of the current state of sloppiness. Not to go all, “there are more important things in life,” on everyone — that, theoretically, can end any great sports debate — but Cooperstown isn’t going anywhere, folks. The artifacts and mementos will continue to display baseball’s history. There will just be a few less bronze plaques.
Admittedly, that’s probably a terrible way to look at things. But it’s an inherent side effect of repeatedly being belted over the head with theories and explanations that are so wide-ranging that the main story each year is the voting habits of the writers rather than the remarkable accomplishments of the new inductees.
Adam Goldberg’s character in Dazed and Confused preached the idea of slipping in one punch and playing a little defense in the hopes that the fight gets broken up. That’s what the Hall of Fame voting has become, as each voter takes a stand, defends their stance until blue in the face, retreats and then repeats the process roughly a year later.
Without getting into whether Le Batard was right or wrong in his decision to offer Deadspin his ballot, it’s easy to see why he did what he did. If someone is going to make a point by refusing to vote for a single player from a specific era, we should expect other — perhaps more overly dramatic — anarchic tendencies. After all, it’s all about taking a stand, right?
Le Batard will never cast another Hall of Fame vote, as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) did what it had to do by revoking his voting privileges for life. Le Batard shouldn’t lose any sleep, though, because this whole Hall of Fame thing has gotten rather exhausting.
Now excuse me. A large pepperoni pizza and a Bud Light are calling my name.