The Baseball Writers Association of America voted yesterday to open up its membership for the first time to web-based baseball writers. Qualified candidates were required to be “full-time baseball writers who work for websites that are credentialed by MLB for post-season coverage.”
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.
Lederer notices the same thing I did when I saw that list: Rob Neyer was left off. To Rob's credit, he's taking the Groucho Marx approach, saying in this BTF thread that he wouldn't want to be part of any club that would have him as a member. Though we all forget this from time to time, the high road is the only road to take, and kudos to Rob for taking it.
But still. There is no excuse whatsoever for keeping Rob out, and by doing so the BBWAA once again displays its ignorant and hidebound ways. Neyer has written more words about baseball than just about anyone on the planet over the past decade, and unlike most BBWAA members, it's almost all high quality stuff. He's written several well-regarded books. Rob is the gold standard of web-based baseball writing, which is the category of writing the BBWAA claims it is trying to recognize with this move. Keeping him out is utterly indefensible on any grounds other than petty spite.
The other notable exclusion was Keith Law. I have tons of respect for Keith and his work, but I can at least construct a plausible argument for not admitting him at this time given how recently he is coming off of his front office job with Toronto. Given how sensitive the BBWAA seems to be with appearances of impropriety, they may have concluded that they're not all that comfortable with someone voting on awards that could very well go to people he has scouted and advocated for within the Blue Jays organization. Yeah, that's a reach, but it's something, which is more than can be said for the slight to Neyer.
I was going to close this rant by linking to the BBWAA's website and asking readers to go there to voice their displeasure. One look at its circa-1995 site, however, reveals that there is no place to register a complaint or communicate in any way. The site is out of date, insular, and exhibits an utter lack of understanding of what the web is all about.
Yep. Sounds right.
Update: Keith speaks.
Update: Rob speaks.
Update: OK, now it's getting outrageously nasty.