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Madden: the Deadspin Hall of Fame vote-buy is “one of the most despicable things I can ever think of”

Nov 27, 2013, 3:31 PM EDT


The Daily News’ Bill Madden was on Chris Russo’s MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this afternoon, reacting to Deadspin’s purchase of a Hall of Fame vote from a BBWAA member. Go listen to the segment here. You will not be shocked to learn that Madden is not pleased with this.

Madden started out by saying that whoever sold his or her vote would be “dead in the baseball writers …” which he later clarified to mean drummed out, saying “this person will be forever banished from the Baseball Writers’ Association.” He added that this is “one of the most despicable things I can ever think of.”

All of which is understandable. To be clear: I personally think this is all a riot and could serve to open some people’s eyes about how messed up the Hall of Fame voting is. But the organization itself can’t tolerate this. Indeed, if I were a senior or managing member of the BBWAA I’d be angry too, in that it makes the organization look like a joke. If and when this person is kicked out of the BBWAA it will be well-deserved and a totally valid thing for the BBWAA to do. Take a provocative action and pay the price, you know.

But the desire for someone in the BBWAA to essentially give the organization the finger here is easy to sympathize with when you hear Madden start to get self-righteous about the BBWAA’s role in the Hall of Fame voting.  Madden, when trying to illustrate why it’s so off-base to go after the BBWAA like Deadspin, this voter and other critics are, says “it’s because of the baseball writers — because it’s so hard to get into the Hall of Fame — that’s the reason this is the only Hall of Fame that anyone gives a damn about.”

Me personally? I’d say they give a damn about it because of the baseball stuff. The players inducted, the history it represents and the memorabilia and mementos the institution curates and maintains. The fact that it chronicles and honors a sport with a far richer and far longer history than those other Halls of Fame he mentions do.

But hey, if Madden and other baseball writers believe that it is their gatekeeping which gives the place public legitimacy, well, God bless them. But understand that such an arrogance is exactly why people like Deadspin and this rogue voter are doing what they’re doing. And why, in the Internet age, when people who do not work for newspapers can actually have their voices heard, the folks who are the gatekeepers are getting a lot of blowback.

  1. Marty McKee - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Now I’m convinced it’s a great idea if Madden hates it.

  2. chip56 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I don’t think that’s what Madden is saying at all. I don’t think he thinks that the writers give the Hall of Fame gravitas, I think they’re two separate thoughts:

    1. Writers work long and hard to become established within the BBWAA so that they earn the right to vote on who goes into the Hall – which may mean nothing to most of us, but if I were in that field my opinion would likely be similar to Madden’s.

    2. The MLB Hall of Fame is hard to get in to.

    I don’t necessarily agree that it’s the only one people give a damn about, but I understand Bill is going to be biased based on his opinion, as I’m sure Peter King would believe that the NFL Hall of Fame is the be-all and end-all of halls of fame.

  3. ireportyoudecide - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    The NFL Hall of Fame is a weekend long celebration of some of the greatest players to ever play the game. A failed PED doesn’t disqualify you for the simple reason that it’s not a lifetime ban.

    The Baseball Hall of Fame is a month long argument of why players are not good enough to be in. It’s the exact opposite of a celebration. A failed PED test or a rumor of even taking PED’s automatically disqualifies you even though the punishment for such is less then a 1/3 of the season suspension.

    I like baseball more then football, but the argument that the baseball hall of fame is better then the pro football HOF is no longer true and the voters like Madden are the reason why.

    • chip56 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      In fairness, PEDs aren’t a big deal to NFL writers because everyone knows that the entire league is juiced. Anecdotally, in 1985 William Perry was a physical freak because he was just north of 300lbs. In today’s NFL he would likely be considered too small to play defensive tackle.

    • anxovies - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      The NFL has a Hall of Fame?

  4. Matthew Pouliot - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Bill Conlin will still be a BBWAA member in good standing, though, right?

  5. chip56 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    I think the reason the two lines were merged in the quote Craig listed is that Madden was pissed. I think we’ve all gotten to the point where we’re so angry and trying to express the multiple reasons for that anger but can’t quite seem to get the words out in the right way.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      The fact that he is so angry that he can’t express himself clearly is pretty telling too.

      • chip56 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        Why’s it telling? If I had dedicated my professional life to something and took it seriously I would be infuriated if someone made a joke out of it. You’re a writer, you know there’s a difference between having the time to gather your thoughts and write them out versus expressing them on the radio in an interview.

      • paperlions - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        That’s a conflation. No baseball writer dedicates themselves to getting a HOF vote. They dedicate themselves to their job and at some point the vote comes along with membership to this organization. The fact is that MANY members of the BBWAA are NOT baseball writers and some have NEVER been baseball writers.

        The stated reason for the existence of and membership of the BBWAA is to ensure that writers that need access to stadiums, press boxes, and locker rooms to do their jobs have such access. Fine. But once someone is a member they can remain a member and continue to vote until they die, even if they ceased covering baseball 50 years ago. Indeed, sportspage editors can get membership to the BBWAA under the guise that such people may need the access ensured by BBWAA membership. Editors are editors, not writers, and many sportspage editors have never even covered sports, much less baseball. Yet, those people also get a vote for life if they want it.

        If the BBWAA really took the voting privilege as seriously as they act like they do, then they would better police the list of voters to ensure that all voters were qualified to vote, but they make no such attempt.

  6. farvite - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    No more despicable than BBWA and the high horse they parade around on.

  7. cur68 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Wowie. Mr. Madden needs to chill the eff out. The BBWAA isn’t The UN. Its a sports popularity contest administered in a subjective manner like figure skating judging. All Deadspin and its paid-off voter did was illustrate that.

  8. godsmacked1 - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Baseball writers might go a little over the top with their self righteousness, but give them credit for taking their vote, in it’s context, seriously. And as far as the NFL goes, there are those who are still bitter at Art Modell for moving the Browns, and work tirelessly every year campaigning against his candidacy.

    • paperlions - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      Except, as an organization they do NOT take voting seriously. If the BBWAA did take the vote seriously, they would ensure that only people with qualifications to vote were allowed to vote. Instead, a writer than hasn’t covered baseball in 50 years can still vote, editors that never covered baseball can vote. Once a vote is awarded to a person it is NEVER taken away. This has lead to 100s of people that have no idea who should or should not be in the HOF having a vote (of course, this is in addition to the 100s of actual baseball writers that wouldn’t know a HOFer if they were bitten on the ass by one).

      There is no way one can effectively argue that a vote is taken seriously if a guy that once got votes from less than a fifth of the electorate later is voted into the HOF despite never playing a single game in the interim. If they took the vote seriously, then each member would learn as much as possible about each candidate their first year, which can’t possibly be true if things like Lou Whittaker falling off the ballot happen.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 28, 2013 at 12:28 AM

        Once again you provide the setup. I actually started imagining what would happen if Jeff Kent, went all zombie-survivor on Bill Madden and tried to chomp his ass! (or if you don’t think Jeff Kent is a HoF, substitute your favorite).

      • paperlions - Nov 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        Yeah, my posts are multi-purpose….something in there for everyone, even zombie enthusiasts.

  9. Darkoestrada - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    The sad part is that the deadspin ballot will probably be more defensible than some of the bbwa ballots. Specifically any that leave maddux off because they can’t have any unanimous selections.

    • paperlions - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      With respect to Maddux this year, if I was a voter, I’d leave him off for one simple reason. Knowing how the process works and the composition of the electorate, I would vote for all of the worthy candidates that I thought were most likely to get < 5% of the vote rather than for a guy that was going to make it anyway.

      • yahmule - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        That’s a bad reason.

      • paperlions - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:51 PM

        Not really. It doesn’t matter how many votes Maddux gets, he’s getting in. The 100% vote thing is made up silliness that affects nothing. Guys that should make the HOF being dropped off of the ballot because the BWWAA is too stupid to have reasonable rules and the HOF is too stupid to have well defined voting criteria, resulting in the high likelihood of deserving players being dropped from the ballot is far more important and a better use of a vote.

        One of the worst things to happen in HOF voting in recent years was Lou Whittaker being dropped from the ballot his first year, despite being every bit the 2B than Sandberg was and easily a top 10 2B all-time.

  10. godsmacked1 - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    and Craig, why are you always hating on Madden? He’s been writing about baseball for one of the biggest newspapers in the largest city in the country for almost 40 years. He’s covered the Bronx Zoo, Billy & George, 86 Mets, steroid era, etc. The guy knows more than a little about the game and it’s characters.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      If he does, he should demonstrate more of that in his writing. Because he’s often full of crap.

      • southofheaven81 - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:10 PM


      • godsmacked1 - Nov 28, 2013 at 7:38 AM

        In your “humble” opinion, right?

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      Longevity doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good, it just means you’re not completely incompetent. That’s a far cry off from being worthwhile though.

  11. tadthebad - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Let’s see some of his ballots and we’ll be the collective judge of that.

  12. wjarvis - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    In my mind submitting a blank ballot is much more despicable than this.

    I think the voting process can certainly be improved from the current process without changing things too much. This would still be far from perfect, but I think it’d be a little better. The changes I’d like to make:
    1)Instead of just listing players that should be in the HOF, voters should vote yes or no on every player. The advantage of this is that you can allow for a voter to abstain from voting on a specific player they don’t feel qualified to judge, without it hurting that players chances. So 572 ballots may be submitted, but if player A only had 500 voters put yes or no then they only needs 375 votes instead of 429 to be elected (75% of votes cast, not ballots submitted).

    2) every player that is eligible gets put on the ballot in their first year, I don’t see why the committee is necessary to choose which players make the cut. This will have absolutely no impact on who gets elected, but players who were able to play long enough to be eligible should get their names considered.

    3) Eliminate the restriction of voting for 10 players per ballot. Last year voters averaged 6.6 names per ballot, so I don’t think including this will really have an impact on who gets elected, but may impact whether people stay on the ballot. I don’t see what the possible negative is about debating players for a few extra years even if they won’t ever get elected. A player should either be a HOFer or not in the eyes of a voter, it seems silly to me that a voter might have to vote strategically.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      That is reasonable and therefore will never happen.

  13. wheels579 - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Bill Madden has become little more than a belligerent, angry old man who is more concerned with the fraternity principle of HOF voting than the quality of the voting itself. Why else would he be upset with a transparent vote as opposed to anonymous voters purposely omitting obvious deserving candidates from their ballots simply to preserve a mindless tradition of no unanimous inductees? Unfortunately, this will probably cause more voters to leave prominent names off ballots just in case the deadspin vote ends up making too much sense. If Deadspin really had a sense of humor, they’d let Alex Rodriguez decide their vote so Madden’s head would explode.

  14. disgracedfury - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    This isn’t as bad as when the BBWAA didn’t vote Ron Santos in to the Hall of Fame until after he died.

    Bill Madden writing a non-ARod story is just crazy.

    • largebill - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      BBWAA didn’t vote Santo in at all. He came up short during his 15 years on the ballot. Eventually the Veterans Committee (which BBWAA has nothing to do with) did select him.

  15. robdog0721 - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    And then there is Papi, Dan LeBatard’s father who is on Dan’s Highly Questionable show on ESPN and was given a Heisman Vote while thousands of more qualified people are without one. I love Papi. But for him to have a vote feels like a bad dream you can’t wake up from.

    • yahmule - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      I don’t understand anything you just wrote, but eff Dan LeBetard.

  16. pftbillsfan - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Heresy allows for guys to be kept out, selling a vote equals dead in their eyes. Interesting moral compasses.

    • paperlions - Nov 27, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      That right there is a worthwhile typo.

  17. indaburg - Nov 27, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    “Indeed, if I were a senior or managing member of the BBWAA I’d be angry too, in that it makes the organization look like a joke.”

    The organization doesn’t just look like a joke–it IS a joke. Last year, they had a stacked ballot and no one got in. That’s not a joke? They allowed themselves to become a joke by keeping voters with no vested interest in the sport whatsoever. Courtesy of Sports Illustrated, I learned that all three writers of have a vote while people like Vin Scully and Bill James do not. Do a better job of vetting who votes, and this doesn’t mockery of a mockery doesn’t happen.

    Madden is misdirecting his anger. He should direct it towards the BBWAA itself. The person who sold his vote is doing them a favor by bringing attention to the problem.

  18. wmatthew760 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Should of the writer sold his vote….no , but I see the point that he is trying to make
    And it is very valid. I would hope this writer is outspoken during the voting process . The baseball hall is a joke. We all have our opinions for PED users, but to hold other legit players accountable for that is ridiculous. This thing is so screwed up how in the world is jim rice able to get in the hall before Andre Dawson? Jack Morris has been closer than he should be.
    Craig Biggio and Mike Pizzia possibly the best at their positions and didn’t get in ?
    There needs to be a better process and the writers need to move on from the PED stigmatism .

  19. chill1184 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    The ironic part (at least to me anyway) is that most of the sports mainstream media is a joke but the clowns at Deadspin aren’t much better. However at least Deadspin, at the very least open about their obnoxiousness and general douchebaggery. Also does Madden seriously think that one ballot (amusing Deadspin only bought one) is going to make a difference? I highly doubt it

  20. DJ MC - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    I know it is highly unlikely, but it would be the best Christmas gift to the baseball world if it turns out that Peter Gammons offered up his vote to Deadspin (for cash or not).

    That might burn the BBWAA to the ground. The most respected baseball writer of the last thirty-five years, and certainly the best known and most read, working to make a mockery of the system in place.

    It would be good if it were Ken Rosenthal or Buster Olney or Tom Verducci, too, but no one else would have the same impact.

  21. macjacmccoy - Nov 28, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    ” Madden, when trying to illustrate why it’s so off-base to go after the BBWAA like Deadspin, this voter and other critics are, says “it’s because of the baseball writers — because it’s so hard to get into the Hall of Fame — that’s the reason this is the only Hall of Fame that anyone gives a damn about.”

    Wow what an ass. Hey Madden do you think your might be a teenzy bit bias because you are a baseball writer and probably a bigger fan of baseball than football, hockey, or basketball? Me and probably a lot of other people care just as much about the Pro Football Hall of Fame as we do baseball’s version. Heck maybe even more people care about Canton then Cooperstown. Yea we might not have to hear football writers cry over it year after year, but that’s not because people dont care about it, its because they have the system figured out a lot better than you and your colleagues.

    Football voters dont seem to have the ego you and your compatriots seem to have. They dont interject themselves into the process by casting their own personal set of moralities into the fray. They use the guidelines of the game to come to their decisions.

    So what a lack of controversy means apathy? Not in my opinion . If fact in1990 the baseball hall fame averaged about 400,000 visitors a year. In the 20 years since it has dropped to 275,000 visitors with the sharpest decline coming in the last 5 years. While on the other hand Canton has held pat at 200,000 visitors per year.

    To me it relates to any comparison you can make between baseball and football. For the older generations baseball was king. There is no denying that. Now though, the older and older that last great baseball loving generation gets the bigger the gap between football and baseball becomes. The hall of fame is probably no different. At one time Cooperstown was at the top of its niche and to be fair it still is. But now the more that generation dies off the fast the gap shrinks. Sooner or later football will take the lead in that too.

    Not to single him out but I believe the main reason why is guys like Madden. Their insistence on being the moral guardians of baseball’s past in the present turns the younger crowd off. Kids dont want to hear the older generation tell them that their way was better, and they certainly dont want to hear those same old men preach about what is wrong with the current players and their fans. They want to watch the sport and enjoy the competition and not be told their favorite player is ruining the game by flipping his bat.

    Baseball will continue to lose ground in every area of sport that they once held a firm grip on until guys like Madden come down out of their ivory tower and realize that actually they are the ones hurting the game, and not the athletes they like to point their fingers at.

    (Sorry if it was a hard read, I know I bounced around a bit to much, thanks for the patients if you made it this far)

  22. Jonny 5 - Nov 28, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    I love this deadspin move. It highlights the fact that people own the right to vote for HOF inductees that don’t care about it. There are people voting who don’t know very much about baseball in general. I’m not saying its a majority of voters, but it’s enough to raise question of, why they have this right to begin with? Voting for players based on morals or lack of who have no right to point fingers due to their own lack of morals. I’d feel better leaving it up to computer program to be honest.

  23. Kevin S. - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    If this is one of the most despicable things Madden can ever think of, does that mean that A-Rod is no longer History’s Greatest Monster?

  24. jpalughi823 - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Better than a bunch of old codgers thinking they are God when it comes to who gets in.

  25. largebill - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    “one of the most despicable things I can ever think of.”

    That statement is either a very damning indictment of his imagination or his memory, or both.

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