Friday, December 7, 2007

The BBWAA is on a serious losing streak

First they screw up the awards thing, and now they screw up their membership drive. Baseball Analysts' Rich Lederer:

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh my. I looked at the BBWAA site and I giggled. Really, giggled. It's so embarrassingly lame, in that lime green... yet I am not surprised.

Sorry that Rob wasn't selected, which, as you rightly say, is a complete and utter joke.

Rob, if you're reading this, thanks for taking the high road and we'll still be looking at you to maintain your high level of baseball writing.

Unknown said...

I love Neyer and absolutely agree that he should immediately be added to the BBWAA. Still, I couldn't help laughing when I saw this, only because Neyer has made so many veiled (and not-so-veiled) comments over the years in his columns regarding his exclusion from the group. He was so obviously bitter about the whole thing (particularly when the voting would be released), it was so obvious he desperately wanted to be a part of it.

So it's sad and funny at the same time that when they've finally opened their doors a crack, he's still on the outside.

Also, I believe several of the web-based members they added are already voting members based on their associations with various publications (Gammons, Olney, etc). So it's not much of a revolution!

mezzie said...

This is hilarious:
That's the oldest waybackmachine link to the BBWAA website, from 2004. Wonder who they've been paying to set up that 'message board'.

Anonymous said...

Shyster, yous hould have told me to puut on sunglasses before goin gto the BBWAAa website. i cant realy see aymore becaus of the colorin so I'M not surw if this contains anu typos..

Anonymous said...

Wow. That website tells you all you need to know about the BBWAA's regard for the web. It's as though they got a ninth grader to set it up as part of an "intro to computer studies" class. They could have set it up as a Myspace or Facebook page and it would have come across as more professional.

Onto the matter at hand, Neyer's exclusion is laughable (in a sad, depressing way), and reinforces the fact that the organization is as prehistoric as many of its writers appear to be.

Mind you, it's not entirely surprising. Neyer's work is generally too forward-thinking to be embraced by the old guard, and he's never been shy about pointing out in his blog and columns just how wrong-headed and behind the times the voters are, come award time. I'm sure there were more than a few of them licking their chops at the thought of blackballing someone on those grounds, regardless of the fact that he understands the realities of baseball analysis better than virtually any of them.

Anonymous said...

Leaving Rob off is a much as I love Peter Gammons, I would rather read Neyer any day of the week. Plus he know baseball more than any writer currently in the BBWAA.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, Joe Posnanski had an interview with Bob Dutton - who is currently the head of the BBWAA - on his (Poz's) blog. Interesting read that gives details of a lot of the crap they went through just to get to this point. There was a lot of stuff about big criteria being attendance at games. Seems a bad place to decide to draw a line in the sand, but there it is...