Starting this winter, a new rule will be in effect for the Baseball Writers Association of America members voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nicknamed the Le Batard Rule (after Dan Le Batard infamously donated his vote to Deadspin last winter, and then proceeded to turn in a ballot better than 95% of the other writers), voters will now need to register online and agree to a code of conduct, punishable by having their vote stripped for life.
In addition, the Hall will now require an Internet registration of the approximately 625 eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and those voters will be notified about a specific code of conduct regarding the handling of that ballot. Voters will be asked to formally agree to a stipulation that their ballot is non-transferable with a penalty of permanently losing that vote.
While that’s all well and good, it does nothing to cure the Hall of Fame’s major issue – their lack of transparency. The final vote totals for each candidate are released every year, but aside from a select portion of the electorate opting in to have their ballots revealed, we have no way of knowing who did or not not vote for each player. The BBWAA ended the anonymity of writers’ in-season award ballots a few years ago, and it has resulted in more dialogue and discussion about the votes from each year.
Why not do that with Hall of Fame ballots? We consider ourselves lucky each year if we’re even able to track a third of the ballots. It would hurt absolutely nothing and no one to reveal all (roughly) 625 ballots each year. Those who want to call attention to themselves with an intentionally blank or otherwise attention-whoring ballot should be brought to light instead of hiding in anonymity.
But hey, let’s worry about people outside of the ivory tower getting to dip their toe in the pool. That’s clearly a much more serious issue.