On Le Batard, Neal and the Privilege of Voting

Let’s take a look at this statement published by BBWAA president LaVelle E. Neal III.

The BBWAA Board of Directors has decided to remove Dan Le Batard’s membership for one year, for transferring his Hall of Fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status. The punishment is allowed under the organization’s constitution.

In addition, Le Batard will not be allowed to vote on Hall of Fame candidates from this point on.

The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable.

As I see it, there are multiple issues with this statement. First of all, why did Neal feel the need to explicitly say that this punishment is allowed under the BBWAA constitution? That looks like a pre-emptive attempt to deflect criticism.

Since Neal invoked the organization’s constitution, though, I took a look.* Here’s the relevant section:

B: Members shall adhere to the objects and ethics of the Association and shall exercise utmost care in the duties and privileges of memberships.

1.1. Violators’ memberships shall be suspended automatically by any Chapter Chair or Association Warden for one year dating there from. This offense shall be reported to the Secretary-Treasurer and the card of the offender shall be revoked.

*It’s amazing, by the way, how many grammatical errors are to be found in the BBWAA constitution. You’d think a bunch of professional writers would take care to get their own governing document in order.

So, there you have it. The leaders of the BBWAA evidently believe that by giving his ballot to Deadspin, Le Batard failed to “exercise utmost care in the duties and privileges of membership.” That’s arguably true, but I’m still left with two major objections to the BBWAA’s actions.

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