Overreact Much?

From Nick Cafardo in the Globe:

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted this morning to approve a resolution in which, starting in 2013, all contracts that have financial terms attached to major awards will not be eligible for consideration for that award.

The resolution stems from Curt Schilling’s new contract. He will receive a $1 million bonus is he gets at least one Cy Young vote. The Baseball Writers’ Association membership votes on the annual awards. The BBWAA will also notify the Major League Players’ Association and Major League Baseball of its decision. A committee will discuss the issue with both the bodies at a future date.

33 comments… add one

  • i cant agree with you paul. I think this is a good move. I think the voting is terrible to begin with on these awards and players shouldnt need to use them as incentives to play their best.

    sam-YF December 5, 2007, 1:06 pm
  • Doesn’t this basically vindicate Pete Abe? I know he was perhaps needlessly critical of Schilling, but his point obviously resonated with others.

    Nick-YF December 5, 2007, 1:06 pm
  • I don’t know why this would be an overreaction. It seems like an eminently smart way to avoid conflicts of interest and/or potential tensions between players/writers/ownership.
    Say some pitcher in a small market has Schill’s same clause. You’re the one writer. It’s borderline. Don’t give it to him, and you’ve got issues with the player/and his teammates. And if you just spent $1 million of a tightfisted owner’s cash? That could easily compromise a reporter’s relationship. Why even risk it? If it’s an mlb contract, let the incentives go with the coaches or players awards. Why drag in the 4th estate?

    YF December 5, 2007, 1:11 pm
  • “…all contracts that have financial terms attached to major awards will not be eligible for consideration for that award.”
    Don’t most contracts have incentives that are tied to major awards, not like the Shilling clause, but ones for getting 1st place votes, 2nd place votes, etc…
    What about contracts that have incentives for winning the MVP, Cy Young or other awards that BBWAA votes on?
    So if a player in 2013 rolls a .360BA, 60HR, 160RBI season and has a contractual incentive for winning the MVP that give him an additional $1M and his stats are far and above anyone else in the league, does this rule mean they won’t get any MVP votes???

    BillsBurg SF December 5, 2007, 1:20 pm
  • What YF said makes sense, but one vote isn’t the same as winning a Cy Young, etc though. I would hope to think the integrity of the voter is better than that..

    Lar December 5, 2007, 1:22 pm
  • I would guess that 2012 is the last year a current contract includes an incentive for an award. Thats likely why they selected 2013 as a start date.

    sam-YF December 5, 2007, 1:28 pm
  • Oh ya, I support this, though it’s probably an overreaction. I would love it if ARod, instead of all those HR bonuses, would get a bonus for winning the World Series. That would send a great message to the fans as well, probably building some goodwill.
    I mean, these HR’s will be nice for marketing purposes, but it’ll obviously be an individual achievement..

    Lar December 5, 2007, 1:35 pm
  • Am I the only one who thinks that BBWAA has too much power as it is?
    I’m not a fan of a bunch of journalists deciding who gets what accolades, and who gets into the HOF…I think that should be up to the league..perhaps the players themselves, or a veterans committee, as is the case with some HOF entrants.

    Chris - SF December 5, 2007, 1:43 pm
  • perhaps the players themselves
    I would actually LOVE this approach. Let all the players and coaches vote, and maybe give the coach votes more weight.

    Atheose December 5, 2007, 2:02 pm
  • I don’t see why clauses attached to awards are a problem. It’s like getting a bonus if you do a good job at work. and it’s just more incentive for a pitcher to win games as opposed to lie around with his fat contract (coughPAVANOcough. someone explain what impact this has on the Baseball writers?
    I mean I guess I could see some a-hole writer being like “I’m not gonna vote for that guy cuz he’s already got a fat contract, and I don’t wanna put more $$ in his pocket”- but that would be pretty stupid.

    Lyndsay December 5, 2007, 2:07 pm
  • Remember, this means all incentives — including those for winning awards or finishing Top 3 or Top 5 — would be nullified under this resolution. Not just clauses like Schilling’s, where one vote gets him money.
    What prevents them from saying they no longer will allow votes for players with individual-vote contracts? It seems they skipped at least one intermediate step to go to the most severe step.
    Likewise, what about contracts that expire after 2013? If A-Rod has MVP clauses and has a monster year in 2014, is he disqualified? Who will police that? For that matter, is someone going to compile a list of all the players no longer qualified for certain awards during that intermediate time period?
    Furthermore, I’m not sure if the BBWAA actually determines eligibility for the awards the writers vote on. Isn’t MLB the one that determines that? So it’s not clear this would even stand up. It will certainly be opposed by the union, and I think you will quickly end up seeing incentives given in contracts for increasingly obscure awards — MLB.com fan votes, Sporting News awards, etc.
    I understand the concern with ethics and integrity — but I see those issues arising only in a case like Schilling’s. It would take a conspiracy of massive proportions to fix that many ballots to get first place for a player who then would have to split the money he’d gain into ultimately negligible fractions with all the writers.
    So the rule seems to me to largely address a problem that doesn’t exist in the hopes of fixing a minor flaw in the process. Or, an overreaction.

    Paul SF December 5, 2007, 2:08 pm
  • The fact that the contract requires just a single vote is sort of odd by itself. Two could have been a safeguard against tampering; as it is it sort of begs to be abused. Would there have been any accountability if he had a borderline season and a lone New England writer gave him a CY vote?

    FenSheaParkway December 5, 2007, 2:09 pm
  • I see no “overreaction”. I see a community (the BBWAA) that didn’t like how their products (their awards) were being used and so has refused to allow them to be used in that way. Seems fine to me. And they chose a date (2013 and not by chance) which means that any new contract carrying into it won’t include that language. Seems like they’ve quickly and efficiently solved the problem.
    I wish all government worked so efficiently!

    MIke YF December 5, 2007, 2:09 pm
  • No contract currently in place runs through 2013. Any contracts now being finalized now understand what’s at stake with that language.
    Problem solved.

    Mike YF December 5, 2007, 2:11 pm
  • Baseball or other organizations could come up with alternative awards (and they’ve tried – Sporting News, Hank Aaron Award, etc), but they don’t have the weight of 50 – 75 years of history.

    Mike YF December 5, 2007, 2:15 pm
  • By the way, the “problem” is that the writers didn’t like their awards being tied to financial stakes. Schilling’s contract just made it very easy to be done with the whole business. Consider: Some guys (and not just A-Rod, see Dice-K’s Cy Young clauses) are getting more for these awards than previous winners made in their entire careers.
    Bravo to the writers.

    Mike YF December 5, 2007, 2:19 pm
  • Lyndsay, I disagree.
    I see the prospective scandals and payoffs likely to happen when money is attached to something that anyone has to vote for and think baseball is smart to move against this.
    I agree with you that it is similar to incentive clauses that reward you for doing a good job at work, but I think it is also different in an important way for the following reason:
    If I get a monetary incentive for doing something objectively verifiable (“hey, you hit 50 HRs this year” or “you broke the all-time record for photocopies without jamming the copier” – then I might try even harder to achieve these feats…i.e. put in more work, practice harder, stay in better shape, clean the copier more regularly, etc.
    But if I get a monetary incentive for receiving a reward that someone votes on, the likelihood that at some point I – or people who support me – will pay for your vote enters the equation. And I think it is smart to just stay away from that possibility – and almost as important, even the mere perception that such corruption is going on. I mean, baseball has survived and players have done very well without having to rely on such clauses – why would we want to see them proliferate?

    IronHorse (yf) December 5, 2007, 2:20 pm
  • Point taken about A-Rod’s non-finalized contract.
    Vernon Wells is signed through 2014 and would receive $250,000 for winning the MVP.

    Paul SF December 5, 2007, 2:21 pm
  • Seems like they’ve quickly and efficiently solved the problem.
    Except, of course, that you’re ignoring most of the facts Paul presented, like the fact that the BBWAA does not determine eligibility for the awards, and that the Union would oppose it.
    You can create random rules/laws all you want, but if you don’t have the authority to do so–or the means to police it–then there’s really no point. Kind-of like the Sodomy Laws which still exist in many states.

    Atheose December 5, 2007, 2:23 pm
  • What happens, i wonder, if the teams and players ignore this?
    I imagine some writers would not feel obligated to withhold voting for a player with an award clause. After all, some won’t vote for pitchers for MVP or Japanese players for ROY. Hall of Fame voters write in Pete Rose all the time.
    You could, *could*, wind up with some interesting votes. I just don’t see the need for the tremendous step taken here, unless the BBWAA truly feels there’s a danger of a massive vote-fixing conspiracy.

    Paul SF December 5, 2007, 2:25 pm
  • And for the record, I’m against the “1-vote” clauses in contracts, such as Schilling’s. But to suddenly outlaw ALL award-based clauses is just rediculous.
    Don’t amputate someone’s leg just because they have athlete’s foot.

    Atheose December 5, 2007, 2:27 pm
  • They gotta grandfather clause that one if it comes up, IMO. Seems unfair to Vernon Wells (if the tremendously unlikely happens) if that’s a problem down the line.

    Devine December 5, 2007, 2:28 pm
  • “unless the BBWAA truly feels there’s a danger of a massive vote-fixing conspiracy”
    Paul, in my view, it doesn’t take anything massive. It takes one case of one writer voting for a guy who is involved in some sort of financial deal, business partnership, whatever with the writer (or, more likely and just as importantly, one scurrulous story/rumor about such a deal) and the entire writers’ voting system is called into question. I really see this as a smart move on their behalf. As much as we bash writers for rumor-leaking, inaccuracy, sensationalism, etc. I think that, as a group, they are seriously concerned about their integrity – both actual and perceived – and this step by them protects and upholds it a bit.

    IronHorse (yf) December 5, 2007, 2:28 pm
  • Atheose,
    With:
    “Kind-of like the Sodomy Laws which still exist in many states.”
    and now:
    “Don’t amputate someone’s leg just because they have athlete’s foot.”
    you are quickly gaining my vote for best and most amusing metaphors…you don’t by chance have an incentive clause from YSFS to win this award, do you?

    IronHorse (yf) December 5, 2007, 2:30 pm
  • I think there’s miscommunication here. Paul believes (I think) that outlawing ALL award-based clauses is wrong, when clearly the small ones like Schilling’s are the problem here.

    Atheose December 5, 2007, 2:31 pm
  • Paul – I thought I could count on you to fact check! It’s a good question for PeteAbe, or another BBWAA member, if Wells would be grandfathered in. Of course, he would still have to produce at that level to be even in the running.
    Atheose – They’re BBWAA awards and always have been. They can do what they want with them.
    “What happens, I wonder, if the teams and players ignore this?”
    Do you really think they will? There’s no incentive anymore. They could tie the incentives to other awards, and they just might. Or another organization (say Gatorade) could start offering prizemoney with their awards. Wasn’t the Rolaids Award that way?

    Mike YF December 5, 2007, 2:34 pm
  • I think there’s a discussion to be had that ultimately could lead to outlawing such clauses. I agree that writers may not want the votes they take to be tied to monetary gain for others.
    But there’s a way to do that, which includes conversations with MLB and the union and a clear explanation of why the writers are uncomfortable with the arrangement.
    Instead, they took a single event — Schilling’s one-vote clause — and rather than immediately taking action to prevent that event from recurring, they tried to obliterate a whole process that affects teams, players, agents, etc., with no evidence that anyone has ever thought of, let alone tried, the outlandish conspiracy it would take to make those fears a reality.
    The overreaction is not in the concern of what the incentives represent or could convey about the writers’ integrity, it’s in the seemingly knee-jerk step they took to erase the concern.

    Paul SF December 5, 2007, 2:37 pm
  • I agree that writers may not want the votes they take to be tied to monetary gain for others.
    I mean, I understand why writers may not want …

    Paul SF December 5, 2007, 2:38 pm
  • you don’t by chance have an incentive clause from YSFS to win this award, do you?
    I just couldn’t resist comparing Schilling to sodomy! Muahahaha.
    And no, I don’t have any clauses. Why would you think that? I swear I’m legit, I ain’t involved in no corruption.
    I’ll take my money now please.

    Atheose December 5, 2007, 2:39 pm
  • I think what this comes down is objectivity and access.
    As it stood for generations, players and reporters were seperate and distinct entities. They didn’t stand on opposite sides, but there were rules of decorum all around. The awards and the reporters and the players all seemed like seperate entities.
    But now, incentive clauses seem to change that. Reporters, I’m sure, do not want to deal with players wondering if this player knows how he voted. Does this player know that I cost him $1 million? Does this player resent or is he going to confront me on what I did? I’m prepared to deal with him dealing with the column I wrote for him; hell i factor what I write to some degree on my relationship with the player. I know that if I write X, I will have to deal with Y. Thats part of the job.
    But now, its more than that. These incentives make the issue about money. I don’t want to lose access to a star player because I didn’t vote for him for MVP. I don’t want there to be any pressure for a writer, whose job requires a level of access and cooperation with players, to consider his tradition-laden vote as some type of currency for the player.
    As always, it has little to do with the specific contracts, but about the possible. About nipping this issue in the bud before a larger portion of the salary is dependent on voting. Reporters do not want to be responsible for the financial compensation, even partially of athletes.
    Its different if the incentive is top-5 Batting Average, over 50HRs, 20 wins, Top-5 in ERA. All those benchmarks are player-driven. Top-3 in MVP voting is not player-drive, its driven by the writers who vote. The writers don’t want to have to come into a room and be told “you caused me to lose money, I’m not talking to you.”

    Carlos (YF) December 5, 2007, 2:45 pm
  • Where were the writers from who gave Maggs those first place votes? I think the writers want to clearly eliminate any dilemas for the people who they should be covering objectively. I think the idea behind it is genuine. It should not be necessary as writers should be doing it the correct way already but maybe they want to make sure of it.

    Seth December 5, 2007, 4:03 pm
  • “But if I get a monetary incentive for receiving a reward that someone votes on, the likelihood that at some point I – or people who support me – will pay for your vote enters the equation.”
    Good point – hadn’t even thought of that.

    Lyndsay December 5, 2007, 4:49 pm
  • i kinda agree with paul [sort of, read on]…this is like swatting flies with a telephone pole…i think award-based compensation is tacky, but the schilling clause is suspicious because it doesn’t even require him to win anything other than a “wink and a nod” from a cooperative sportswriter…yet another reason to be annoyed with the guy…
    it’s funny, a lot of time has been spent on this site debating whether awards, like the gold glove, silver slugger, mvp and the rest had any merit because certain undeserving players were the beneficiary from time to time…i wonder if paul would be so understanding if jeter’s contract had gold glove and silver slugger incentives….

    dc December 6, 2007, 3:22 am

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