Reader's Choice: Deadspin Buys a Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
Published on 28-Nov-2013 by J Square Humboldt
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So, even immortality has a price.
Or at least, the steps in that particular stairway to heaven do.
Deadspin, where an edgy attitude is a way of journalistic life, announced a few months ago that it intended to buy Baseball Hall of Fame ballots from that institution's hallowed voters. And those dudes are card-carrying members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who achieved voting status by covering the game for at least ten years. Plus, if writers become honorary lifetime members, they keep their votes as long as they keep a pulse. It's allegedly a cherished privilege that can only be earned. Or so we thought.
Until Deadspin met someone's price.
One voter, who's anonymous now and will reveal himself afterward, has agreed to place on his ballot whomever Deadspin's readers decide should get its up-to-ten possible names. He says he has his reasons for doing this. Perhaps a desire for a Pete Rose sort of infamy is one.
For all we know, this is a Pete Rose/Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens/Mark McGwire protest vote. Sort of like a judge not lest ye be judged gesture.
Whatever. It's definitely going to inject a higher than usual level of interest and scrutiny in the voting process. And not just for the Hall of Fame, but for the sporting world's human pollsters in general. (RIP, BCS, but we know your ghost will still lurk somewhere in the new system.)
This development underscores yet again why not even Babe Ruth received a unanimous vote to reach the Hall. Could it be that some self-righteous voter couldn't separate the Bambino's carousing from his on-field dominance? Or maybe a couple of voters felt he'd get the requisite 75% total anyway and wrote in a marginal candidate whom they liked for one reason or another. Of course, rationalizations like these wreak of hypocrisy, but the reality is they're not uncommon occurrences.
And of course, there will be repercussions. But that ballot's going to count, and in the grand scheme of things, it's doubtful one vote is going to be crucial to any candidate's fate.
An expecteed firestorm will ensue. Change will be discussed to preserve so-called standards, but most likely, not much will happen as a result. As prestigious as entering the Hall is for players, being empowered with a ballot carries a similar status to most voters. The BBWAA is a long-established, stodgy fraternal order that doesn't look fondly upon ruffled feathers, even when they're justifiably tousled.
In the meantime, think how proud Richie Sexson or Todd Jones might be to tell their kids and grandkids that, one way or another, they were officially counted among the game's legends.