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Does the BBWAA need more Craig Calcaterras and Aaron Gleemans?

Jan 12, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Press box

December and January get people like me talking way more about the Baseball Writers Association of America than any other time of the year. In December because the new memberships are voted on. In January because the Hall of Fame votes come out.

We talk about the politics of the organization.  Its purpose in a changing world. The nature of its Hall of Fame voting.  My views in it all are sort of complicated, but I find it all rather interesting.

Today Will Carroll — a BBWAA member — adds his two cents to it all over at his personal blog, talking about how honored he felt when he was admitted and taking issue with his Sports Illustrated colleague Joe Sheehan over the need to radically reform it.  Will’s belief is that, over time, whatever pains the BBWAA is currently suffering, will be ameliorated:

As time passes, there’s going to be a generational change. It’s not just people like Rob Neyer or Peter Abraham that will come in influenced by Bill James, it’s those people themselves that will be influencing the next generation … The BBWAA needs more Joe Sheehans, Craig Calcaterras, Aaron Gleemans, and Matthew Leachs inside the meeting, building the future, and making the vote they care so passionately about count.

Aaron and I have had several people tell us that we should try to get in the BBWAA over the past couple of years. But it’s something I’ve struggled with.  My thought process goes something like this:

  • It would certainly be an honor and some professional validation and man, it would be pretty awesome to get to vote on postseason awards and, eventually the Hall of Fame; but
  • The main point of the organization is not for that, it’s to ensure access to ballparks for members of the working press, and with the exception of spring training and some random games during the year, I don’t go to a ton of baseball games for the purposes of my work; but
  • I would probably change my coverage a bit and go to more games if I didn’t have to worry about setting up for credentials or getting tickets or what have you.

That little cha-cha never gets me anyplace satisfying.  I think on the whole I would like to be a BBWAA member. It would allow me to expand the kind of coverage I provide and I think that, given what I do, I’d be able to join some of the other recently-admitted members who work exclusively on the web help the organization figure out the best way to integrate and interact with new media and keep the organization vital going forward.  That said, those are things that benefit me for the most part and I’m not sure the BBWAA’s primary interests are necessarily served by admitting me.

All of that said, I think Will is right here. There are legitimate beefs with the way the BBWAA has gone about its business in recent years, mostly in terms of its membership decisions and in the composition and approach of the Hall of Fame electorate. But by disposition I am less prone to throwing bombs about such things and agree that, given the nature of the organization’s younger members (mostly the current beat writers, who skew pretty damn savvy) the future looks brighter than the present as far as those things go.

Oh well. No point to this. Just the sort of thing I think about when people start talking about the BBWAA.

  1. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    It’s not just people like… Peter Abraham …

    Considering the latest in regards to Abraham, the less people we have acting like him, the better.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      What’d he do? I’ve always found him to be pretty good, so long as the subject isn’t A-Rod.

      • Lukehart80 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        Google “saberboy” and get yourself caught up. It’s all pretty funny.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        Oh my.

  2. yournuts - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Pllease don’t consider it. Your not writers your bloggers with a sense of entitlement, and you think that your more knowledgeable than you really are. We know your just bloggers.

    • TigerCub33 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      You’re…not your

      Some “Bloggers” are also writers, perhaps moreso than those who you would consider writers.

      • phillyphreak - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        My favorite part is that he wrote “your” FOUR times.

      • mattraw - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM

        Fou’re times, even

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Don’t you mean “for” times?

    • mattintoledo - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      Your write. Their not righters.

    • gvots - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      Not sure if trolling or Murray Chass?

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        I just wanted you to know I laughed particularly hard at that.

    • mattintoledo - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Also, is your handle referring to somebody else’s testicles? Or is it a another confusion of “your/you’re” and you’re calling other people crazy. Considering this post, it’s a valid question I think.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Oh, what do you know….the grammar police are out in full force today. If you want to criticize his point, fine. Seriously though, lay off the holier than though grammar bullshit. It’s not like you didn’t know what he meant or it was unintelligible rubbish.

      • vanquish0916 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        *thou

      • mattintoledo - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        Well, his grammar is better than the point he’s trying to make.

      • b7p19 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM

        How hard is it to follow the basic rules of the English language dr? I love that you whiffed on “holier than though.”

      • dluxxx - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        When someone comes on here to disparge one of the main blogger’s writing skills, then he becomes fair game. I mean seriously, it sounds to me like this guy thinks he has great righting skillz to dis our man Craig.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:14 AM

        I’m still trying to figure out if the original poster is channeling the thoughts of my testicles. Which is weird because my testicles don’t seem to get a rise out of baseball blogs.

      • Old Gator - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM

        ” It’s not like you didn’t know what he meant or it was unintelligible rubbish.”

        I agree. It was intelligible rubbish. What could be more egalitarian than the way the internet empowers the semi-literate?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        Because it is obnoxious to sit there and correct grammar. First of all, you don’t know this persons background. Perhaps English is a second language to him. Secondly, perhaps he wasn’t afforded the educational opportunities that many of us have been fortunate enough to partake in. If he came on here criticizing Craig’s grammar then fine, whatever. However, he was more criticizing the content of the blog postings. Sorry, but is is a pet peeve of mine. I loathe when people get on the internet and all of a sudden become Middle School grammar instructors. Unless somebody is correcting Cur’s grammar….that is fair game. Furthermore, “our man Craig”? Seriously? Craig is a big boy, he can handle himself as he has done numerous times on this blog. I don’t think he needs you guys to put “yournuts” in his place but correcting his grammar. I mean, that we learn um’.

      • cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        Hey!

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        Cur, you know I have nothing but love for you and your beaver wrestling.

      • cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        I’m seriously thinking of going for my PhD when I finish this Masters. Should I be successful & you and I are still around (as is this blog) then I promise you, as an oath sworn in e-blood, that my new handle will be “drbeaverarmy”. You may count on it as a fact that I shall align my forces against yours in unswerving opposition.

      • natstowngreg - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        I agree w/the Good Doctor on not nit-picking. I understood what the guy meant. Just think he’s way off-base.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        So, the general consensus seems to be that nit picking on grammar is a cool thing to do no matter what the ethnic or educational background of the offender is. Gee, a latent prejudice that seems to be infiltrating HBT.

        Furthermore, Cur…I look forward to the name change. It will be amusing.

      • danrizzle - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        If the purpose of yournuts’s comment was anything other than to impugn Craig’s credentials as an actual writer, then yeah I guess it would be in bad taste to pedantically correct his poor grammar. However, the subject was writing. He brought it up. Game on, no matter what his ethnicity or background is, and maybe next time he’ll think again before casting aspersions at a blogger’s status relative to print establishment colleagues.

        At least that’s what this danrizzle thinks.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        He was criticizing content….nowhere did he say that Craig fails as a writer because of his sub standard use of the English language. Also, I don’t agree with him but resorting to correcting grammar is the lowest common denominator.

      • danrizzle - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        I don’t know, man. It seems like his point was that a blogger like Craig is not and cannot be a real writer. Apparently yournuts is some kind of authority on what makes a writer. The fact that the point was spewed out in a comment replete with grammatical errors is a bit ironic. To draw attention to the fact that the comment was, in itself, a grammatical barfbag bursting at its seams is I think to address the content of the comment–that perhaps yournuts is not the pope of the writing establishment and could perhaps stand to take it easy a little.

        That’s danrizzle’s take, anyway.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        Sorry, Doc. “Your not writers your bloggers with a sense of entitlement, and you think that your more knowledgeable than you really are,” is chockful of content to rip. From my reading, OP is exhibiting both entitlement (that he can decide the difference between a writer and a blogger) and the belief that OP is smarter than Craig. Thus, OP has opened his own can of worms.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        Okay, we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Like I said, pointing out grammatical errors is a pet peeve of mine. Sorry if I took it too far. However, I refuse to apologize to Cur. That beaver wrangling, blubber eater had it coming.

      • cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        I ingest only the finest seal blubber I’ll have you know. And the beaver…well don’t get me started.

    • vanquish0916 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Your a good troll

    • dluxxx - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      See, just grouping “bloggers” together is pretty disingenuous. These guys are paid to cover baseball topics by a very large company. Although they aren’t technically journalists, they put out more copy, with more in-depth coverage than most of your mainstream newspaper “journalists.”

      I’d put more weight behind something that Aaron or Craig have to say before many of these old curmudgeons and salty columnists that work for major newspapers. Hell, a “columnist” is just a glorified opinion writer, and only a small step away from a blogger anyway. The only difference is their press pass and BBWAA membership.

      So don’t kid yourself. These guys are professionals, and I guarentee you that if any of them wanted to go to work for a daily newsrag, cut their readership by thousands (at the very least) and most likely take a pay cut, I’m sure they’d have no problem getting a gig with their credentials.

      • paperlions - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        Actually, by definition, they are journalists…what they are not is reporters.

      • dluxxx - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        I’d say that’s still open to interpretation…
        http://mashable.com/2011/12/07/blogger-vs-journalist/

  3. jasoncollette - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    There could be an extremely mutually beneficial relationship between bloggers and columnists/beatwriters when leveraged properly. Their access and our analysis could be blended together to improve the impact of work from both parties. Simply put, both parties could learn from one another.

  4. shawnuel - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Dave Cameron from Fangraphs just got membership into BBWAA. 10 more years before he can cast an HOF ballot, though.

  5. dluxxx - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Short answer: Yes!

  6. crispybasil - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    The more intelligent baseball minds that BBWAA has, the better.

  7. Francisco (FC) - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Craig paced back on forth on the Phanatic rug, puffing bubbles through his pipe. He had the air of man impatient to be getting on with something. His tightened up his bathrobe as the call he was waiting for finally came in on his LED TV display.

    “So did you go over the proposal?”, he asked without bothering to look at the screen.

    “Craig, I wish you would stop including me in your nutty plans,” said Aaron.

    “Did you READ it!?!”, Craig replied.

    “Yes, yes. But really, a plot to eventually takeover the BBWAA?”

    “Think of all the good we can do. The press even agrees they need more of us in that organization. To change it, to bring it vigor, glory-”

    “Ego?”, Gleeman asked, a little bemused.

    Craig waved his hand. “They already have that in spades.”

    “Well I have to say this reads a little like TV tropes, ” Aaron said as he flipped over the page notes. “Votes of no confidence, secret identities, hidden budgets… clones?”. Aaron looked up a Craig. “Let’s assume for the moment I would agree to have hundreds of Gleeman clones with press badges covering baseball events, how do you actually expect to accomplish cloning?”.

    Craig bit down his pipe. “I’m still working on that part…”

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      I need to see this acted out.

  8. stex52 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Go for it, Craig! Throw some bombs. Every institution needs perspectives to be broadened, by force if necessary. And BBWAA seems like it could benefit quite a bit.

    Seriously, why not? I seem to hear an inner voice there saying “YES!”

  9. phillysoulfan - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    I think the BBWAA just needs to go away. Start a new organization. To many people think so and so is a HOFer because “I saw him play.” So did I and I don’t think they are HOFers (Bleylevan, Dawson). Then there are the guys who will not vote for a guy first time around because Babe Ruth did not get in on the first ballot. Why are they taking that fact out on players from today? These players had nothing to do with it. They weren’t even born yet. Hell, their parents weren’t even born yet when that happened. Plus, it was the sportswriters at that time who didn’t think Ruth was one of the 5 best players ever. Wouldn’t it make more sense if they denied membership to the BBWAA to a deserving baseball writer for a year?

    While I think Sabermetrics has it’s place in helping evaluate players, it doesn’t help with HOF voting. Look at Bert Bleylevan, he put up some really good advanced metric numbers and that helped propel him into the HOF. But let’s be honest, when he was playing, you never thought of him as a HOFer. You thought of him as a 3rd pitcher on a championship team. In other words, there is a human element involved that you can not measure and players like Bleylevan and Dawson, while very good players, do not go to the HOF. That’s what makes the BBHOF different from the rest. You can’t just be very good. You have to be one of the gods of the game.

    If I were selecting the criteria for selecting a player into the HOF the first thing I would say “above all else you have to remember that it’s called the Baseball Hall of Fame AND MUSEUM!!!” Museums are a place or building where objects of historical, artistic, or scientific interest are exhibited, preserved, or studied. Whether you like it or not, the Steroid Era of baseball happened. It should be preserved, like every other era of baseball. If you don’t include those players, then you are not representing the facts of baseball.

  10. b7p19 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    I don’t want to tell you what to do Craig, but this is what you should do. Get in the freakin BBWAA. I think anyone that feels as strongly about something as you do about the HOF should take advantage of the opportunity to right your perceived wrongs. Otherwise, you come off as one of those folks that complains about everything without ever offering a solution or their services to fix it. You know people like that don’t you? Don’t be one of them. I like this site too much to think that of you.

  11. Jonny 5 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    “Does the BBWAA need more Craig Calcaterras and Aaron Gleemans?”

    By that I take it as “Rational and fair voters”. To that I say, you’re g-damned right! Much of the current batch of voters has almost turned the HOF vote into a joke.

    • paperlions - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      The biggest problem with the HOF vote is to whom the BBWAA gives votes (which includes things like sports editors, many of which have never covered baseball and may not even be fans of the sport), and the fact that once a member has that vote (s)he has it forever. Once a person stops covering the sport, their vote should be taken away…having guys that are beat writers for hockey and haven’t covered baseball in over a decade vote on the HOF is beyond silly.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        Absolutely one of the biggest problems PL. Some of the voters make it obvious that they have no place voting for the HOF. There are ways to make it better yet the BWAA seems to have no interest in making it better. Blank ballots should have their rights revoked as well.

      • dluxxx - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        I agree on the blank ballots. If you don’t think somebody is worthy, then don’t turn in a ballot. It’s a DB (or DN for Mr. Bravo) move.

  12. hammyofdoom - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    The level of pure snark of allowing those two in would blow up the HOF in a second

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      And isn’t Heyman a voter?

  13. cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Does power corrupt? Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? See, now this is yours and Gleeman’s chance to find out. Will you turn into “Random Hockey Guy” with a BBWAA vote? If, once they let you in, you feel an overwhelming urge to expend superlatives on Mike Young’s defence, leadership, businesslike attitude, and general skillz as a baseball d00d then I think we’ll know…

    • Old Gator - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Speaking of which, let’s get back to the main point of this discussion, namely, is there a Calcaterra or Gleeman shortage?

      It’s always been my impression that there was plenty of Gleeman, so I think we can attribute that part of the title of this blog to mere hysteria. On the other hand, I think that there may well be a Calcaterra shortage, but that, for reasons best known only to themselves, the authorities have been suppressing this information. I suppose they want to avoid spreading panic among sports fans everywhere, and it’s a valid concern. But I would very much like to see the statistics about just how much Calcaterra there is, and how much longer the available stockpile of Calcaterra is going to last. We don’t want to be blindsided by a sudden skyrocketing cost of Calcaterra like we were with the price of tomatoes last year.

      • cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        Might be onto to something here, Gator. He keeps watching Battlestar Galactica and elliptical-trainer-ing there’s gonna be a WHOLE lot less of him, for a fact. I understand that in the past year we’re actually down about 20 odd pounds of Calcaterra. That’s a lot of blogger! We need to do something. Maybe have 6 extra large pizza’s delivered to his compound? You get on that and I’ll organize a sapper to infiltrate and sabotage the elliptical trainer….

      • natstowngreg - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        It’s a tradeoff. Do you a larger supply of Calcaterra now? Or, do you want a smaller supply of Calcaterra now, but have the supply last longer? I vote for the latter.

      • dluxxx - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:04 PM

        There is a whole lot less of Gleeman this year than there was at this time last year. I think last I saw that there’s about 30% less of him. It seems like there really IS a shortage…

  14. natstowngreg - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Yes. You’ve laid out a case for needed change in the organization. Seems like a pretty good reason to join and try to make the change:

    “I do, I’d be able to join some of the other recently-admitted members who work exclusively on the web help the organization figure out the best way to integrate and interact with new media and keep the organization vital going forward.”

    Though you realize that if you and Aaron join, at that moment you become stupid BBWAA members, attacked on this here blog for not knowing a Hall of Famer or MVP if you see one. Don’t you?

  15. iranuke - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    My personal opinion is that if you are employed to write about baseball, then you should be in the BBWAA: if you stop being employed to write about baseball, then you should be dropped from the rolls of the BBWAA. A retired writer is not employed to write about baseball and should not be on the rolls of the BBWAA. Someone who is now writing about Hockey should not be in the BBWAA. The name of the organization says it all. It is a professional organization for BASEBALL writers so you should be a professional (employed) and writing about BASEBALL.

  16. aceshigh11 - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    The BBWAA clearly needs more Dan Shaughnessys [/snark]

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