The Baseball Writers' Association of America thought it was fixing a problem.
Instead, with one swift, sweeping act of judgement it revealed its true nature—the BBWAA, at its core, is nothing more than a frightened dictator.
By releasing a statement that Dan Le Batard would be banned for giving his vote to Deadspin, the BBWAA flaunted its power to show the baseball world that its word is final, to cast fear into the eyes of anyone who even thinks of rebelling against it.
The voting for the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a deeply flawed and broken process. From the voting limit of 10 players to the vague criteria and lack of leadership the Hall has shown regarding players in the steroid era to even the composition of the voting body itself, the cracked and antiquated process cries out for a change.
Here's what Le Batard had to say about it on Deadspin:
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.
Baseball is always reticent to change, but our flawed voting process needs remodeling in a new media world. Besides, every year the power is abused the way I'm going to be alleged to abuse it here. There's never been a unanimous first-ballot guy? Seriously? If Ruth and Mays and Schmidt aren't that, then what is? This year, someone is going to leave one of the five best pitchers ever off the ballot. Suck it, Greg Maddux.
Bottom line: The system is broken. If you couldn't tell that by players such as Jacque Jones, J.T. Snow, Armando Benitez and Kenny Rogers receiving votes, then maybe the Deadspin vote is the revolutionary spark to reform the voting process.
Le Batard's vote was a mockery of the Hall of Fame's voting process—this was the very point he was trying to make. But even so, it wasn't Le Batard's vote that kept surefire Hall of Famer Craig Biggio out of the Hall for the second straight year, but rather the voters who mailed in blank ballots out of protest. Who committed the crime here: Those who deliberately chose not to vote, or the writer who allowed himself to be made a pariah in order to demonstrate this to us?
Le Batard decided that enacting change to a broken process was more important than sitting idly—for this, I respect him. He was willing to break a rule and pay the price for it in exchange for the possibility of reform. In battle, it's always the front lines that endure the harshest casualties.
By swatting him away, the BBWAA proved Le Batard's point for him—its chokehold on this broken system is about power. And like all dictators, it fears losing its power.
One writer was brave enough to expose this. Regardless of how you feel about his methods or his ballot, if you can recognize the flaws in the voting you can appreciate the guts it took to put himself on the front lines of reform.
Winston Churchill once said, “You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police...yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home—all the more powerful because forbidden—terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”
Le Batard is the first mouse to enter into this room. He won't be the last.