Dan Szymborski alerts me to something that is potentially — and I stress “potentially” — quite delicious. It seems that the BBWAA Constitution — under which the BBWAA suspended Dan LeBatard for giving his vote to Deadspin — requires notice and hearing before disciplinary action. Notice and hearing that could not have possibly taken place before his suspension today:
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Disciplinary
Section 3: As the Association’s disciplinary commission, the Board shall be empowered to investigate charges and conduct trials in special meetings in the following manner:
A written statement of charges of any alleged misconduct against a member shall be served on the respondent at least 15 days in advance of any hearing or trial. The written statement shall include a reference to the provision in the Constitution or other governing rule or regulation alleged to have been violated, as well as a statement of the conduct of the respondent that is alleged to have violated that provision.
The Association and the respondent shall exchange lists of witnesses and copies of all exhibits that they propose to submit at the hearing or trial at least five days in advance of the hearing or trial.
At the hearing or trial, both the Association and the respondent shall be given a reasonable opportunity to cross-examine each others’ witnesses, as well as to present witnesses on their own behalf and to present relevant documentary evidence.
Obviously none of that has or could have happened given that LeBatard’s identity as the Deadspin Whisperer wasn’t revealed until yesterday.
That said, there is another section in the Constitution which works against this, as it suggests that one-year suspensions — which LeBatard recevied — can happen “automatically.”
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. 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.
Reinstatement after suspension shall, in addition to regular qualification, require payment of annual dues for the period of suspension.
This is a little problematic in that neither section references the other, which you would normally expect when one term limits another term of such a document. It’s possible that this is just bad drafting. It’s possible that the one-year “automatic” suspension refers to different kinds of suspensions — ones by local chapter chairs instead of the Board of Directors, for example — than the one LeBatard got. It’s also possible that LeBatard indicated to the BBWAA that he’d waive all hearing and appeal rights and just take his medicine so none of this potential ambiguity matters in the least.
If he did want to challenge this — and if I’m not simply missing something in the BBWAA Constitution — he could theoretically sue to be reinstated or something, arguing that his organization didn’t follow its own rules. But really, it’s highly unlikely he’d bother given that he basically gave the BBWAA the big kiss off with his comments in Deadspin yesterday.
I’d be curious for others — especially others with legal backgrounds — to look at these two provisions and the BBWAA Constitution and see if I’m out to lunch or if LeBatard would actually have something to argue about if he wanted to. My presumption is that the BBWAA Board of Directors thought about all of this beforehand and that there isn’t much here, but my litigator’s eye keeps going to the notice and hearing provision and thinking … “hmmm”