Update at 11:30 ET: Dan Patrick’s producer just posted the following tweet.
Dan LeBatard has enjoyed a terrific career, winning many national awards as a columnist for the Miami Herald. It enabled him to go to another level with TV and radio shows on ESPN.
Yesterday, though, wasn’t one of his better days.
LeBatard faced considerable fallout for his decision to give his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin. It was his way of protesting the voting process. Deadspin turned around and using fan voting to determine LeBatard’s ballot.
He wrote: “I always like a little anarchy inside the cathedral we’ve made of sports.”
LeBatard was feeling a bit cocky in the video. However, a couple hours later, he seemed to be second-guessing his decision on his ESPN radio show by 6 p.m. ET. During the previous hour, Tim Kurkjian and then Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, men he greatly respects, scolded him for participating in such a stunt. Wilbon called it “garbage.”
“This is egotism run amok,” Korheiser told LeBatard.
Here is a link to the Kornheiser and Wilbon interview.
As I wrote yesterday, all three of them thought LeBatard should have used his own vast platforms to make his point about the process. Kurkjian felt by going to Deadspin, LeBatard made himself the focus of the story, taking away from the intent of his mission.
After an hour of that, and with considerable other criticism coming in from the journalism community, LeBatard seemed overwhelmed at the top of the 6 p.m. hour. You got the feeling he felt, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
The reaction got worse for LeBatard, and it came from his own employers.
In a Clark Spencer story in the Miami Herald, sport editor Jorge Rojas said it best. (Note: LeBatard now is technically a freelancer for the Herald):
“Whatever issues might be raised about the Hall of Fame voting process, we do not condone misrepresentation of any kind,” Herald executive sports editor Jorge Rojas said in a statement. “Dan had a point to make. We think there are other ways he could have made it.”
Exactly. A journalist should never misrepresent himself. He accepted the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America. There is an implied trust that he would use it in good faith. He didn’t.
There’s more. From Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote.
“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 … for somebody with a daily radio show who fancies himself a cutting edge establishment-tweaker.”
Mike Oz of Yahoo! Sports had the reaction from LaVelle E. Neal III, the BBWA president.
“When you accept a baseball writers’ card, there’s a certain way you need to go about your business, a certain conduct you need to have at all times,” Neal said. “It’s disappointing that someone would decide to manipulate his vote in that way.”
More reaction from baseball writers:
“It’s sad that one of our members would do this,” said Bill Madden, long-time baseball writer for the New York Daily News and a member for 41 years of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, whose most tenured members vote for the Hall of Fame.
Said Mark Feinsand, who covers the New York Yankees for the Daily News: “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.”
Meanwhile, a story on ESPN.com had the network attempting to distance himself from the stunt.
“We respect and appreciate Dan’s opinions and passion about Hall of Fame voting,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement. “He received his vote while at the Miami Herald. We wouldn’t have advocated his voting approach, which we were just made aware of today.”
I’m sure LeBatard will get a phone call or two today from top ESPN executives, if he hasn’t already.
Again, serious journalists don’t do something like this, which is disappointing because I consider LeBatard a serious journalist.