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


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.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza

Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the best compliment I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my view — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play-by-play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.