The Brawl Over Baseball Hall Of Fame Voting

The new Baseball Hall of Fame inductees were announced this week — and it's not just who got in and who didn't that's causing a stir; the voting itself has people talking. Sports correspondent Mike Pesca speaks with NPR's Rachel Martin about that and the reduction of New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez's suspension.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And it is time for sports.

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MARTIN: The Baseball Hall of Fame's new class of inductees was announced this past week and it caused quite a stir. The biggest controversy may not even be about who got in, but the actual voting. Also in baseball, A-Rod's suspension - the longest ever for doping in baseball history, although it has been reduced. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us to mull all of this over. Good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello. I shall mull.

MARTIN: Mull, please. So, the day that the Hall of Fame class is announced is supposed to be this great day in baseball, but did the shadow of steroids loom even larger than usual this year?

PESCA: Yeah, it has been in the last few years. And Glavine, Maddux, Frank Thomas, the inductees - everyone agrees - these were great and valuable guys. But, of course, we're talking about the steroid era, although we're not really even talking about whatever years we thought the steroid era were, because here's Alex Rodriguez. He's been suspended for now 162 games - not the 211 he was charged with. He did his - this recent batch of steroid use wasn't even steroid use - it was human growth hormone. It was after baseball supposedly cleaned up its act.

So, voters, people who vote for the Hall of Fame, it's very hard to know how to process this. You have guys who they think clearly did steroids. You have guys who they strongly suspect clearly did steroids. You have guys who they think, even if they didn't do steroids, might make the Hall of Fame. You have guys who they say, well, but for the steroids he probably wouldn't have made it, but how can they possibly know? And with so many different people having so many different opinions and there's no real basis, there's no list of, well, here's how you make your decisions, I mean, everything's just so tumultuous about the process, it is just very angsty(ph).

MARTIN: And this one guy, this important guy, was banned from the voting, right, this sports journalist?

PESCA: Yeah, Dan Le Batard, who has a vote because, in addition to being an ESPN personality, he writes a column. And what happened was the website Dead Spin said we're going to buy a Hall of Fame voter's vote. That didn't happen. But Le Batard said I'll take you up on the second half of what you are trying to do. Your voters voted for who they want in the Hall of Fame and Le Batard just kind of gave him ballot over to them. So, the Hall of Fame has, like, banned him for covering games and voting for 10 years.

But he was engaged in sort of a civil disobedience exercise. He wanted to point out that only sports writers vote for the Hall of Fame and that's wrong. And there are hundreds of them and so many are unqualified and there's just no real, there's no real science to it and there's no real rules. So, everyone's very upset at everyone else. And they're throwing around charges of sanctimony. Yeah, Dan Le Batard calls the Hall of Fame process sanctimonious. His critics say he's sanctimonious. He wants all the credit.

MARTIN: You say that's a problem...

PESCA: It think it is.

MARTIN: ...the overuse of this word.

PESCA: Well, you know, I looked up the world. Here's how it works. I think it kind of does get down to what we're talking about. So, you know, originally, it has the same roots - sanctimony has the same roots as sanctity and sanctuary, so it was kind of holy. But somewhere around, like, 400 years ago. I mean, Shakespeare started using sanctimonious in "Measure for Measure" in a pejorative way. And it just seems to me that something you hold really serious that I don't, I call you sanctimonious and you call it sanctimony. So, it's two people who are at each other's throats, or two groups, and not at all seeing the other points of view. That said, I think all the Hall of Fame ballots should be public so even if people make crazy votes, they should be held accountable.

MARTIN: I don't really know what just happened, but I like it. OK. NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome.

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