On Tuesday, shortly after this year's Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was released, Deadspin revealed that they had bought a voter's ballot and would be crowdsourcing their readers to fill it out.
The idea is brilliant on the surface, especially considering how disastrous some of the ballots submitted were last year, not to mention the ballots submitted by people who don't even cover baseball anymore. Is anyone really going to be upset about, just as an example, one of the three writers at GolfersWest.com selling their ballot to Deadspin?
There's this wide net being thrown out by guys like Ed Sherman, who called the anonymous voter a "scumbag" for selling his vote. Is selling your vote any worse than being uninformed or ignorant about the players on the ballot? Sherman is convinced that the voter won't reveal himself, as Deadspin has promised, after the election results are announced. It would be more of a story if the intrepid capitalist was an active beat or national writer instead of being a relatively anonymous name, but would that really change anything? If the writer who sold his or her ballot wrote an article that day explaining why, perhaps explaining disgust in the overall process, wouldn't that be better than simply letting them dangle in the wind?
The concept of Deadspin buying a vote has been a polarizing issue. ESPN's Keith Law has more of an issue with the voter, but admits that their ballot can't be worse than some of the others we've seen lately. Jonah Keri of Grantland is going with the "voter is frustrated by the process" mindset. Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports thinks the idea is "fabulous", but could result in major changes if the voter is revealed as someone who wouldn't really be affected by BBWAA discipline. CBS Sports' Mike Axisa agrees with Calcaterra while also shaming the voter and calling the sale a "black eye".
Let's be honest here: Hall of Fame voting needs an overhaul, especially after last year's mess that saw no one get elected thanks to a cloud of PED suspicions. Why not help curb Deadspin's purchase by introducing a fan vote, like the Heisman Trust has instituted for the Heisman Trophy? When Deadspin said they intended to make a "mockery and farce" of the Hall of Fame voting, I think their intentions were misinterpreted. I don't think Deadspin was planning to load up their ballot with players like Jacque Jones, JT Snow, and Mike Timlin. They're making a mockery and farce of the procedure, where people who don't even cover baseball have their votes weighed just as much as writers who cover the game in-depth today, and more than BBWAA members that don't yet have a vote, including Law and Christina Kahrl of ESPN, Carson Cistulli, Eno Sarris, and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, and Ben Lindbergh, Joe Hamrahi, and Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus.
The process needs fixing, and Deadspin is merely helping that process along – regardless of which players their ballot consists of, and which writer sold it to them.