Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Volquez Three

Via Keith Law, we have the names of the voters who thought Edinson Volquez was a rookie:

The three voters who included Volquez were Jeremy Cothran of the Newark Star-Ledger, John Klima of the Los Angeles Daily News, and Jay Paris of the North County Times in San Diego.
Links included so you can engage in a nice conversation with them about their vote!


Pete Toms said...

I get that it is incompetent for a professional baseball writer to vote for an ineligible player.

What I don't get is why us chattering classes get our shorts in such a knot about what the BBWAA does? I could care less.

More importantly, I bet the players, coaches and front office folks don't give a crap either.

So why is it that us folks who are completely outside the game get so pissed about what these guys ( they are mostly guys ) do? I think it's jealousy. We think we all know more about baseball than they do but yet we go off to our boring jobs while they get paid to watch and write about baseball.

Craig Calcaterra said...

For years, BBWAA writers have claimed that their credentials -- the imprimatur of the BBWAA and/or affiliations with professional newspapers -- is what makes them special. What separates themselves unwashed masses, be they bloggers, sabermetricians, or regular old message board posters. It has been a way for them denigrate the writings and opinions of others and avoid engaging in any real exchange of ideas or arguments.

The award vote is the ultimate expression of that credential, and these guys have f*cked it up, and in light of all of the crap that has come from them in the past, it's quite satisfying to see.

Maybe that's not noble or polite or reasonable, but I don't think it's exactly jealousy either.

Jay said...

If a baseball fan won a contest and was given the opportunity to vote on the BBWAA major awards, is there any chance that person would cast a ballot that included a vote for a player ineligible for an award?

Of course not.

It's not jealousy, but a sense of disappointment that a few of the people who occupy these positions don't perform the most cursory statistical check on the candidates.

christopher said...

Knowing the names of the perps kind of ruins the whole thing for me. It's easy to make fun of the faceless, backwards BBWAA, but you click through and look at the bios of those guys, they don't seem to fit the old, crusty, bitter sportswriter mold we wish them to be. Now I feel like just cutting them some slack.

As a side note, i spend a lot of time reading about baseball and i've never heard of any of those guys. I'd much rather read stuff from people with sound judgement and interesting things to say. The free market works!

Chipmaker said...

I'll just keep coming back to Shysterball, and eventually there'll be links to all three columns, using either the "mea culpa! I was dumb" or the "geez, don't blame ME, the BBWAA didn't tell me..." defense, and then have a good laff.

Pete Toms said...

I'm in a pissy mood this morning so I'll be petty.

"It has been a way for them denigrate the writings and opinions of others and avoid engaging in any real exchange of ideas or arguments."

Well, if they are such idiots, why do the bloggers and saber geeks want an exchange of ideas?

I'll also ask again, does anybody who is actually part of MLB give a crap? Don't you get the irony? The people who are part of it, I suspect don't care and we who have nothing to do with it do care? Not kinda silly?

I might pick arguments all day today.

bigcatasroma said...

As a baseball fan and human, I give a crap. These idiots lionize themselves, and I used to feel sorry for them -- really, sportswriters are sh*t on by the athlete. Read Leatch's book sometime, about his experience writing for his college newspaper, and it becomes evident that the writers are used, humiliated and discarded by athletes. So I used to feel sorry for them, for not knowing this, and how like pigs in sh*t they basked in their role. But then, they exclude people like Neyer and Law from the holiest of holies for the baseball writing profession (and American citizen, by the way) - voting - which is a slap in the face. So now I hate them, their petty smugness not hiding the fact that many of them don't know jack squat about baseball from an intellectual perspective at all.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, a guy that until this year, was covering William & Mary soccer in Williamsburg, Va., should be granted the right to cast a ballot in the BBWAA. Go figure.

Craig Calcaterra said...


"Well, if they are such idiots, why do the bloggers and saber geeks want an exchange of ideas?"

I guess my response would be that just because they dimiss us entirely based on one criteria (i.e. the credential) doesn't mean I should dismiss them on one criteria (their inability to vote coherently).

Look, I don't want to be a beat writer and I don't want to join their clubs. But at the same time, I think it is silly (and oh so 2005) to think that the world would be better without working sports reporters. Their work is essential, and I couldn't blog without it. At the same time, I think that what I and other bloggers do enhances the experience for fans by providing a complimentary, opinion-based product that, at the same time, helps drive traffic to the stories by the reporters.

So, while it's not all sorted out yet, I think the ideal outcome to all of this is a symbiotic relationship between the reporters and the bloggers, with each of us adding to the mix. That, I feel, is what is best for the fan/reader anyway, and in many ways that's how the political press and blogs have come together in the past few years.

But in our case, we have one party to that arrangment (the established press) crapping on the other (bloggers/internet writers), and using its perceived expertise and credential as the basis for it As long as that happens, my vision of media Nirvana is unattainable.

So what are we to do? I do not think the solution is to ignore these guys or pretend they don't exist. Instead, I think we call them out on their baloney expertise, thereby (hopefully; eventually) eliminating that as a wedge issue. And for what it's worth, I would hope that they would call me out when I'm full of it too.

tadthebad said...

Idiots or not, the point of debate would be to demonstrate their shortsightedness and lack of objective analysis in the hopes that such education might influence future voting. Further, as the BBRAA represent the gatekeepers of major awards that obviously give context to the careers of would-be HoFers, not to mention the gatekeepers of the actual HoF, their disservice certainly affects any satisfaction of mine relative to appropriate honors. HoF honors are something that MLB cares a great deal about.

The saying is actually "couldn't care less", not "could care less."

Keith Law said...

Players absolutely care, and so do clubs. Most players have awards-bonus clauses in their contracts tied to MVP, Cy Young, RoY, Gold Glove, and postseason series MVP awards. The bonuses can be substantial, as much as $100K.

Eric said...

echoing anon comments... a guy in his first year covering a team gets a vote?!

Ron Rollins said...

All good points about the BBWAA, but what are you going to do?

What system will you use? And do you think any other system won't come under the same criticism.

Here are some options.

1) Managers, coaches, players - yeah, because they do such a good job with Gold Glove selections and picking their own rosters (see Trey Hillman and Tony Pena, Jr)

2) Fans - yeah, we got that All-Star voting thing figured out, so we'll be great at this.

3) Stats - which ones?

4) Sabermetrics - are we really ready to let HAL (please, someone get that reference) be in charge. I hope not.

5) Bloggers - I had to pause as I laughed uncontrollably as I tried to figure how any of us are more qualified than the BBWAA.

6) Agents - I'm just trying to find a way to get Boras' head to explode.

7) Team executives - see Kansas City Royals, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and Florida Marlins for an explanation of this one.

Why all the fuss. Isn't this what the Hot Stove league is all about?

There will never be a perfect system, and this is what has been chosen. No matter system is used, someone will always bitch and be unhappy. And more people would be unhappy if they didn't have a reason to bitch.

Please let this go before Bud deciedes to fix it.

Pete Toms said...

Well, I'm still in a pissy mood but I feel a little better because it's good for my ego that Keith Law responded to my rant.

Ok, yes the elite players are impacted in terms of $$$. But I am skeptical that the rank & file pay any attention to what the BBWAA are doing. I also suspect that 98% of MLB players have no friggin idea who Neyer or Law are ( and I'm a geek and part of the chattering classes, I read them faithfully. The only beat writer I read is Jeff Blair ).

And this schism between the bloggers / objective analysis community & the BBWAA I think pretty much only exists in the world of the former. I doubt that most BBWAA members pay any or little attention to it. We're a small community, the baseball chattering classes. THT according to Bryan Tsao's resumé a few years back had 14,000 unique visitors per day. The recent press release announcing the merger of BP with BDD said that BP has 10,000 subscribers. I suspect Shyster has a bigger audience because the subject matter broader and Craig is pretty darn entertaining, it appeals to more than just the hardcore objective analysis crowd. But, we're a small group guys and I bet barely on the radar of most in the BBWAA.

I'm not defending the BBWAA, I've seen the list of writers from the Toronto chapter ( who I would be the most familiar with ) and was not very impressed. I, like the rest of you, think I know more about ball than many of them.

Yes, they are the gatekeepers of the HOF ( which I have no desire to visit ) but again except for the elite players who have a chance at admission, do the rank & file care?

As for beat writers being treated like crap by jocks. Sure, jocks are a--holes, we all know that. Pity, sympathy for beat writers? None. Go get a different gig if you don't like it.

Finally because of my foul mood, bigcat, thanks for clarifying that you are a human as opposed to an alien? ( that's cheap but I'm nasty today, I'll apologize another day ).

Tad, thanks for correcting my grammar, typically it's my spelling that sucks.

I feel like Ringolsby @ BTF!

Oh, forgot, why don't you folks discuss the voting in the internet baseball awards ( or whatever it's called ) instead of the BBWAA since the former are enlightened and the latter morons?

This is a better option than being mean to my wife and kids.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I don't have a ton of time at the moment to address all of your points, Pete, but I will go on record as saying that I do not have 14,000 unique visitors a day.

The readers I do have are a hell of a lot smarter than your average bear, however, so I mentally count them multiple times.

Doug said...

The Volquez Three would be a good name for a three piece rock band. seriously.

Ron Rollns said...

If you count the people with mulitple personalities separtely, that would increase your bloggership.

rob said...


You're creating a ridiculous straw man by assuming that most of the rank and file MLB players don't care about the BBWAA awards. That's your opinion, projected upon the 700 or so baseball players who don't have a shot in hell at winning these awards.

These are their Oscars, and I suspect that the vast majority (98% perhaps) are hard-wired to care about who wins these awards regardless of the potential monetary bonus they may or may not have any chance of winning.

Pete Toms said...

@ rob.

One of the ridiculous elements of this argument? The beat writers would know if the rank & file care. No, I don't know. Ok, the rank & file probably know who wins the awards but that's not the same as being greatly interested in it, or getting pissed off about the results. They're busy being jocks, being promiscuous, abusive, working out, playing video games, settling paternity suits.....they have far different intersts than us baseball chattering classes.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I don't believe that Pete. I think we can disagree at what level they care (I'm sure it doesn't keep most awake at night), but I think they care.

More to the point, I think that they at least hope that it's a fair and rational process being attended to by people who take their responsibility seriously.

In 1999 (I think) Pedro Martinez was denied the MVP because a writer kept him off the ballot. Really, didn't even include him in the top 10. We can argue about whether a starter should be an MVP, but the rules make them eligible, and even if you discounted his performance because he's a pitcher, you have to admit he was top 10. The writer left him off though, because he decided not to follow the rules or common sense or both.

I'm guessing Pedro cared for a minute and then went off to watch a cockfight in the DR or something. But there were bullpen catchers who helped Pedro warm up all year and coaches and teammates who worked with them all year, and I'm sure they did care.

I think it all comes down to simple respect. When a writer so casually fucks up like these three did, it says that we don't care a lick about this award, and I'm certain that a non-trivial number of players are bothered by that.

Bob Timmermann said...

Seems to me that this whole problem with the ROY voting could be avoided if the BBWAA sent out a ballot with a list of eligible players on it for Rookie of the Year voting.

It's the only award that the writers vote on that has anything approaching a complicated set of qualifications.

bigcatasroma said...

Craig, I'm not even sure that it's they don't care. I see it that they think they are ABOVE the rule(s). That they write about baseball for a living, ergo they KNOW about baseball, therefore if they THINK a rule is stupid, or dumb, it is.

If a writer BELIEVES that a starting pitcher should not be MVP, no matter the rule, or the 35 WS racked up (not likely to happen in this day and age, but still), he is NOT going to vote for him, because, by golly, it's just STUPID to have a starting pitcher win MVP, no matter what . . .

Look at the three who voted for Volquez. Maybe they KNEW he wasn't a rookie, but, gosh darn it, he only pitched 12, 33, and 34 innings the previous years, and this year he had SEVENTEEN wins and almost TWO-HUNDRED innings, first year full time too! So, I mean, this year was REALLY his rookie season, and he was just so gosh darn good . . .

It's that the rules are fungible, no body can agree on them, and that BBRAA are in for good - who's going to tell them NOT to vote for him? Obviously nobody, because VOLQUEZ's RESULTS WERE KEPT ON THE FRIGGIN' BALLOT TOTALS WHEN THE RESULTS WERE ANNOUNCED!!! It just reinforces these egomaniacs' opinions that they are the holy keepers of baseball knowledge, and it's just infuriating, knowing that the majority of fans read BBRAA stuff over Neyer and Law, and the players don't respect many of these guys, etc. etc. It's just one of those "life isn't fair" moments . . .

Brandon Heikoop said...

I imagine baseball does care about the voting considering the amount of contracts that are based on the process (See Carlos Delgado).

tadthebad said...

Great point about Pedro, CC. If memory serves, that year I think George King, one of the NY BBRAA voters, left Pedro off the MVP ballot and provided the explanation that pitchers have their own award so they should not be eligible for the MVP. Kind of a strange argument to make considering he voted for David Wells as MVP within 2 or 3 seasons of 1999.

I may have the names and dates a bit confused, but you get the idea. I'll always be upset that Pedro missed out on the MVP, not to mention the 2002 Cy Young, due to questionable effort and sincerity.

Jake said...

I'll never forget the moment I realized I love baseball more than many sportswriters: I paid >$100 for SRO tickets to the 2005 All-Star game. One of the best places to stand was overlooking a section obviously reserved for media people. I glanced down a couple times, and was appalled to see some guy playing solitaire in the middle of the 6th inning... I was so upset. I guess my child-like naiveté was broken a bit after that...

Bob Timmermann said...

Oh no! Someone has a job that they are bored with!

I'm crushed.

Grey said...

As I told Mr. Law, I was a little disappointed that Pujols didn't receive any Cy Young votes. That seems like a smarter dumb vote.

I'm sure there's a way to figure this out (Try Google, Grey!), but did those three vote Volquez on their Cy Young ballots?

RotoJeff said...

Not sure if anyone is still checking this thread, but this is priceless.