Many were outraged at the results of Tuesday’s Hall of Fame vote, with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both denied entry to Cooperstown. While not surprising given their ties to PEDs, it’s still hard to fathom that arguably the greatest hitter and pitcher of all-time may never receive baseball’s highest honor, with both players’ fates now in the hands of MLB’s Veterans Committee. And to think, we may not be having this discussion if not for a certain Miami-based podcaster.
Fed up with voters acting as moral arbiters, Dan Le Batard (formerly of ESPN and the Miami Herald) protested the Hall of Fame’s “flawed” voting process by allowing Deadspin to fill out his ballot. The BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) responded harshly, permanently stripping Le Batard of his right to vote. While enacting changes to ensure an act of rebellion like this would never happen again (including signing an acknowledgment that HOF votes are non-transferable), the Hall of Fame decided to make another tweak, reducing players' eligibility from 15 years to only 10.
You may recall it took former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice 15 tries before he was inducted in 2009, a luxury that Bonds and Clemens will never be afforded. By prompting an overhaul of the election process, did Le Batard inadvertently keep Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall? What bitter irony that would be, considering Le Batard’s entire thesis was to shine a light on the hypocrisy of self-important voters applying moral standards to a sport that for decades turned a blind eye to steroid use, fostering an environment that encouraged players like Bonds and Clemens to win at all costs.
Of course, that’s probably giving Le Batard too much credit. Though Le Batard’s stunt was certainly responsible for the Hall’s new “code of conduct” established in 2014, the change from 15 to 10 years of eligibility was almost certainly aimed at keeping steroid users out of Cooperstown, making it more difficult for alleged cheaters to occupy baseball’s most hallowed ground.