The BBWAA Gets It Right - And Wrong

Today, the Baseball Writers Association of America decided to table implementation of the rule passed yesterday which would have prevented BBWAA members from voting for awards for players who had incentive clauses in their contracts for said awards:

Said the BBWAA in a statement, "It is the goal of the BBWAA to work out a compromise acceptable to everyone."

That seems right to me. Here's wrong: Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts reports that the BBWAA is opening up its membership to web-based writers:

Sixteen of the 18 nominations were recommended for approval: Scott Miller from CBS Sportsline; Jim Caple, Jerry Crasnick, Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjian, Amy Nelson, Buster Olney, and Jayson Stark from ESPN; Ken Rosenthal from FoxSports; John Donovan, Jon Heyman, and Tom Verducci from SI; and Tim Brown, Steve Henson, Jeff Passan, and Dan Wetzel from Yahoo.

Hmmm. Sounds good on its face, but dig deeper and you find at least two important web writers missing: Rob Neyer and Keith Law. And why isn't he there? Read the comments to that post and you find the following response, an email reply from BBWAA president Bob Dutton to Rich Lederer:

One of the requirements for membership in the BBWAA is the need to be at Major League ballparks. Several members questioned whether Rob and Keith meet that requirement.

Some board members informally contacted folks at ESPN with this question and were told neither Rob nor Keith regularly attend big-league games and do not need to do so in order to do their jobs.

I can guarantee you that if my supervisors reported that to the BBWAA about me, I wouldn't have a card.

Also, this is how the system works. Newspapers designate candidates for membership. Reporters don't apply on their own. We followed the same basic procedure in adding internet reporters.

One difference: Candidates have always been reviewed each year by a chapter chairman, but since the internet sites were applying through the national office, they were reviewed by the national board of directors.

I've been in contact with Keith and Rob since the vote. Keith said he does attend games on a regular basis and expects to increase his attendance in the coming year.

If that's true, and I have no reason to doubt Keith, I hope ESPN confirms this and resubmits his name next year for consideration. If so, I would expect him to be approved.

I haven't heard back from Rob at this point, but if the view on his need was similarly misrepresented, I hope ESPN also resubmits him as a candidate.

Going to games? Seriously? You mean the rest of us, who can watch virtually every major league game via satellite or digital cable, don't know as much as a writer who goes to the ballpark? Is the BBWAA just for beat writers? If so, why are Gammons, Kurkjian and Olney in there? They aren't beat writers -- oh, but they used to be, and I guess the BBWAA is rewarding them because they no longer work for newspapers.

This ostrich of an organization needs to get its head out of the sand and recognize that there are talented and knowledgeable baseball writers who don't necessarily write a game story about each game. Hmmm... isn't that what I do here? Shouldn't I be qualified? I go to games and write recaps.

I'm not necessarily lobbying to get into the BBWAA here, but I'm sure you can see the hypocrisy.

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