Writing the Ship

Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts picks up a Winter Meetings vote that may have been more important than the since-tabled "Schilling Rule": For the first time, Internet writers can become members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

I was going to post something snarky about how great it is that talented, knowledgeable writers like Rob Neyer and Keith Law will finally be able to gain voting rights for the Hall of Fame and whatnot (except theirs were the only two of 18 nominations rejected by the BBWAA), but the subsequent debate over their exclusion sheds quite a bit of light on the BBWAA itself, and continues the discussion started with the award-incentives vote earlier in the week. The whole thread is worth the read (and Neyer responds in there, also).

Pete Abraham, who joined the discussion, makes the most salient point, I think:

People are missing the point. The BBWAA was started so writers would have a way to work with the clubs on issues of access and player accessability. Because of the BBWAA, there are MLB rules on that sort of thing. Clubhouses open at a certain time, etc. We meet all the time with the people on Park Ave and the MLBPA.

It has nothing to do with whether going to a game is the best way to cover it. We’re an organization of people who do go to games. Whether you place value on that or not, that is our job.

The awards get a lot of coverage — heck, a vote about the awards got a lot of coverage — but it’s helpful to remember these are beat writers first, award givers second. At some point, it may behoove Major League Baseball — if the writers are so inclined; these are their awards, after all — to create a separate pool of award voters consisting of the BBWAA and other non-reporting baseball writers and analysts, with the Hall of Fame following suit (and, yes, eliminating award incentives from contracts especially as the process would grow more democratic).

If anything, this and the Schilling controversy are showing that times in baseball have changed in ways we are still just realizing; perhaps the big postseason awards need to change, as well.

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