SBD/January 9, 2014/Media

Le Batard Under Fire From Media Members After Granting Baseball HOF Vote To Deadspin

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La Batard says that his focus is on bringing attention to the voting process
ESPN's Dan Le Batard this morning explained his rationale for handing his ballot for the Baseball HOF over to Deadspin readers, saying he has been trying to "instigate change ... unsuccessfully" in the voting process for 10 years. He said on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike," "I haven’t attracted the amount of attention in 10 years trying this that I did just yesterday.” Le Batard said he was surprised by the "enormity of the disconnect between fans and viewers and listeners and readers, who were overwhelmingly positive, and my brethren, who were overwhelmingly not." He said, "I was not expecting that kind of difference. I thought more of my peers would come to my side and I thought more fans would be disgusted with me and feel like I was just attention seeking.” Le Batard acknowledged he should have "waited a day" before revealing himself as the source of the Deadspin ballot. He added, "I should have done it on our platforms instead of on Deadspin ... although I don’t know that I could have done it quite as effectively on ESPN’s platforms because I’ve been trying to do it on ESPN’s platforms in some ways or another. But it was Deadspin’s idea, not mine, and not ESPN’s” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 1/9). Le Batard yesterday said on his WAXY-AM radio show, "The baseball writers are beating me up. They’re saying I’m a joke, an attention seeker. I’m not looking for the attention. Honestly I’m not. I’m interested in bringing attention to this. My ballot is clean, and so is my conscience, by the way. ... I don’t know if I’m going to be suspended or what, but I’m on the right side of the principle here" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/9).

POTENTIAL PUNISHMENT UNKNOWN: In N.Y., Anthony McCarron notes while Le Batard "wrote that he expected to be stripped of his vote, it’s unclear what, if any, punishment he’ll face." Baseball Writers' Association of America Secretary-Treasurer Jack O’Connell yesterday "would not comment on the matter" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/9). BBWAA President LaVelle Neal said, "When you accept a Baseball Writer's card, there's a certain way you need to go about your business, there's a certain conduct you need to have at all times. It's just disappointing that someone would decide to manipulate his vote in that way." Neal said the BBWAA BOD is "meeting to discuss" possible disciplinary action against Le Batard, but "if other things come out of that committee meeting" in terms of revamping the voting process "so be it." Neal: "When you have a voting body of 560, 570 people, you're going to have a couple of crackpots. ... We can't always weed those people out but we can always just look at ways to improve our process" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 1/8). Le Batard hosts both a daily TV and radio show on ESPN's airwaves, and also is a freelance columnist for the Miami Herald, where he first got his HOF ballot. ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz in a statement said network officials "respect and appreciate Dan’s opinions and passion about Hall of Fame voting." Krulewitz: "We wouldn’t have advocated his voting approach, which we were just made aware of today." Miami Herald Exec Sports Editor Jorge Rojas in a statement said, "Whatever issues might be raised about the Hall of Fame voting process, we do not condone misrepresentation of any kind. Dan had a point to make. We think there are other ways he could have made it" (THE DAILY).

WRITERS NOT HOLDING BACK OPINIONS: Many of Le Batard's BBWAA colleagues offered sharp retorts of his decision. The N.Y. Daily News' Mark Feinsand said, "The writers who cover the sport earn the right to vote and don’t earn the right to allow others to cast their votes. If you don’t think your vote means anything, then don’t vote." The N.Y. Daily News' Bill Madden added, "It's sad that one of our members would do this" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/9). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the BBWAA should "sooner than immediately" revoke Le Batard's voting. Kornheiser: "What's not good is if you say, 'My ego is such I laugh at you and I spit in your face and give my vote away.'" ESPN's Michael Wilbon said it is "sanctimonious for Le Batard to offer up this garbage 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 big, fat voice that can reach everyone" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/8). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote effecting change "from within is difficult" and "anonymous betrayal and ridicule is easy." Shaughnessy: "A stand-up guy would have recused himself" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/9). MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby wrote on Twitter, "If I had respect for Dan LeBatard I don't anymore. If he didn't want HOF vote should have declined it, not give away to non-qualified voter." CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman: "Shame on the sanctimonious attention seeker who turned his vote over to a website. #sad." The S.F. Chronicle's Henry Schulman: "THIS is a 'look-at-me' act." Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz: "I don't care how messed up the Hall of Fame voting process is. Dan LeBatard is a clown for giving his vote to @Deadspin." But ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg: "Wow, Le Batard was the Deadspin voter. Good for you, Dan" (TWITTER.com, 1/8).

ANY PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY? ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg said Le Batard's decision to give his vote to Deadspin was done at least partially "to attract attention to himself." Greenberg: "Dan Le Batard has now made this a national conversation because of the way he chose to do it. He could have ranted and raved on radio and television and no one would have paid any attention the moment his conversation ended. Now people are paying attention" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 1/9). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote, "I love that my buddy Dan must now act as if he'd have preferred none of this get out when in fact this is publicity gold, effing gold, for somebody with a daily radio show who fancies himself a cutting edge establishment-tweaker" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/8). CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel wrote, "I judge this vote, what he did, as shortsighted and stupid, shockingly so for someone so intelligent." Doyel: "Le Batard's too smart to believe what he did will affect actual change, which tells me he did it for the attention he'd get" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/8).
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