Miami Herald reporter and ESPN host Dan Le Batard just earned himself a lifetime ban from voting on baseball's Hall of Fame membership, for an act that was either wildly heroic or arrogantly self-serving, depending on who you ask.
Le Batard was revealed yesterday as the secret member of the Baseball Writers of Association of America who "sold" his Hall of Fame ballot to the website Deadspin, who let their readers choose the names he would submit for consideration. The stunt was orchestrated by Deadspin (who did not pay Le Batard any money) as an attempt to inject some "anarchy" into the voting process, and as a protest against the self-righteous grandstanding of many of the BBWAA's voters.
But just as he shined a light on the the "avalanche of sanctimony" among baseball Hall of Fame voters, critics in turn accused Le Batard, Deadspin, and their supporters of being even more "sanctimonious." But who is the more sanctimonious? Like the Hall of Fame itself, the qualifications are entirely subjective and open to debate, even if Merriam-Webster's definition ("pretending to be morally better than other people") isn't. Here are the potential inductees to the Hall of Sanctimony.
Dan Le Batard
The sports columnist, national radio host, and ESPN talking head has borne the brunt of the scorn for violating the sacred responsibility of his office. With as much power and as big an audience as almost anyone else in sports media, why couldn't he have just advocated for his position publicly, without privately undermining the process? Because He loves the attention, of course.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports delivered that first passive-aggressive charge, refusing to even name Le Batard as he condemned his decision:
Shame on the santimonious attention seeker who turned his vote over to a website. #sad— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 8, 2014
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal took aim at the ESPN host as well. "If Le Batard no longer wanted to vote, he could have resigned from the BBWAA and spared us his sanctimony," he wrote. "Insulting. Pointless. Stupid," chimed in Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports.
Even his crotchety coworkers at ESPN criticized the vote decision. On Pardon The Interruption, the debate show that Le Batard frequently guests hosts, Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser called the selling of his vote "massively lame" and "egotism run amok," respectively.
"It's so sanctimonious for Le Batard to offer up this garbage," Wilbon said, "because when you have a radio show that is now national, a television show that's national every day, you write columns ... You have a voice, a big fat voice, that can reach everyone. Don't tell me that the process is flawed. Lobby for what you believe in."
Baseball Writers' Association of America
The journalists in the BBWAA who lord over Cooperstown's gates are the real villains here, as Le Batard's protest was clearly meant to show. “I don’t like how they do business over at the Hall of Fame,” Le Batard said on his ESPN2 show, “where they’re sitting there and they’re being sanctimonious and they’re keeping all the steroid guys out.”
After all, plenty of BBWAA voters have used their ballots to make symbolic gestures over the years. Earlier this week, L.A. Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick revealed that he refuses to vote for anyone at all "who played during the period of PED use," an undefined time period that includes hundreds of players who never been accused, let alone caught, using any banned substances. (The one guy he did vote for, Jack Morris, clearly played at least part of his career in that period.)
Some writers are even turning on each other.
What a moronic, SANCTIMONIOUS statement. RT @JonHeymanCBS Shame on the santimonious attention seeker who turned his vote over to a website.”— Jeremy Repanich (@racefortheprize) January 8, 2014
Radio host Tony Bruno sided against the BBWAA as well.
While gleefully mocking the staid mainstream baseball media, Deadspin readers turned in a Hall of Fame card that would have been completely uncontroversial, and mirrored the overall results of the vote. That ironic difference — vocal criticism followed by completely safe and sedate choices — struck some as a bit of hypocrisy. "Certainly Deadspin got to be a part of the mainstream media’s process while still keeping it’s outsider’s bravado," Yankees blogger Chad Jennings wrote.
Should a website willing to post almost any salacious gossip it can get its hands on really tell the BBWAA how to do its business? The whole thing reminded Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of attention-seeking.
@PoaPratensis I think it's safe to say that both Lebatard and Deadspin were in it for the publicity. I will leave it at that.— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 8, 2014
Like baseball's Hall of Fame ballots, you can vote for all three contestants to join the Hall of Sanctimony if you so choose.
This Dan Lebatard/Deadspin scandal is a marvel to watch. Sanctimonious attention seekers labelling someone a sanctimonious attention seeker— Dan Bryant (@DanBryantSW4) January 9, 2014
In the end, there's only one way to escape the entire debate.
If you're a baseball fan and you muted all tweets with the word 'sanctimonious' this week- then your timeline has been pretty barren.— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) January 9, 2014