Big League Stew

Deadspin buys Hall of Fame vote, aims to make ‘mockery and farce’ of the process

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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Barry Larkin at his Hall of Fame induction in 2012. (Getty Images)

Well, it happened. Deadspin stuck its thumb in the eye of the Baseball Writers of Association of America and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The popular blog — which bills itself as it "sports news without access, favor, or discretion" — convinced a BBWAA member with Hall of Fame voting privileges to sell his or her vote. We don't know who sold the vote to Deadspin or for how much (or what the consequences will be once all that is revealed). But we know Deadspin plans let its readers decide which of the 36 names on the 2014 ballot are worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown. Hall of Fame voters can choose up to 10 players. The results will be announced Jan. 8.

Of course, this isn't just about getting to cast a ballot — something that requires 10 consecutive years of BBWAA membership — it's about bringing even more chaos to a Hall of Fame selection system that's been scrutinized in years past. First, BBWAA members took a moral stance against PED use in baseball by keeping Mark McGwire out of the Hall. Then last year, with 569 ballots cast, BBWAA voters didn't elect anyone in a class that included Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Enter Deadspin, with a bit of anarchy in mind. It announced its plan earlier in November, and obviously got a bite. Deadspin announced this on Tuesday to coincide with the BBWAA's unveiling of the Hall of Fame ballot.

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(Getty Images)

Our idea was to make a mockery and farce of the increasingly solemn and absurd election process, and to take some power from the duly appointed custodians of the game's history and turn it over to the public ...

A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America thought our plan sounded like a pretty damn good idea and sold us his/her vote, making a stand against the idea that a somewhat random subsection of the baseball press should maintain the power to confer what is, regrettably, the game's most prestigious honor. For obvious reasons, the voter will remain anonymous for now, but he/she will be filling out his ballot on behalf of Deadspin readers, who will be polled in binding elections. The voter will announce his/her name and motivations once his/her vote has been officially cast.

Deadspin is still trying to figure out how to proceed, and surely many of us who follow baseball with have our eyes peeled for the site's next step. But for anyone unfamiliar with Deadspin, you should know this is a place where Drunk Papa John and Lennay Kekua are contenders for another Hall of Fame.

It really doesn't matter whose names end up on the Deadspin-curated ballot. This isn't a crusade to get Jacque Jones or J.T. Snow a spot in Cooperstown, it's about exposing Hall of the Fame voters as hypocrites. You can't dress up like the morality police when your organization's morals have been undermined. We see this play in politics all the time.

As former Deadspin editor and current Sports on Earth columnist Will Leitch wrote earlier this month:

All it takes is one. All it takes is one person of the hundreds of voters to accept some cash, for any reason. If one person does it, it makes it impossible for a group with a member willing to sell their vote -- to give it up for cash -- to make much of a moral issue out of anything. It shows the whole process for the self-involved, indulgent enterprise it is. It pops voters' fatuous bubble.

In theory, sure. But will that actually happen? This isn't like gamblers paying off players from the 1919 White Sox. What Deadspin is doing is essentially crowd-sourcing a small percentage of the Hall of the Fame vote, some degree of which has probably happened in the past, just not all out in the public timeline.

Maybe this "mockery" will lead to change in a Hall of Fame system that most (if not all) would agree has some flaws. Or maybe it's like one of those morals-centered political scandals — fun for a week or so until the next thing comes along. Guess we'll find out in January.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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