Baseball Writers Association of America

Baseball Writers Association of America

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) is a professional association for baseball journalists writing for daily newspapers, magazines and qualifying Web sites. The BBWAA was founded in 1908 to improve working conditions for sportswriters in the early part of the 20th century. The organization's primary function is to work with Major League Baseball and individual teams to assure clubhouse and press box access for BBWAA members. In addition, BBWAA members also elect players to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the organization's most public function. All writers with 10 years of membership in the BBWAA are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA also votes annually for the Most Valuable Player Award, the Cy Young Award winner, and Rookie of the Year Award in each of the major leagues.

Considering the ready availability of television broadcasts for the majority of baseball games, plus instant access to information through the Internet, some have called into question why the BBWAA has not broadened its membership rules to include broadcasters and researchers. (Similar arguments were made for the inclusion of Web-based journalists, before the BBWAA added Web writers to its ranks in December, 2007.

Others have openly questioned why the BBWAA is involved in the award and Hall of Fame voting processes at all , citing in some cases journalistic integrity and the need to remain unbiased in their coverage of newsworthy events.

Awards Voting

The BBWAA is responsible for voting on several awards annually including:

In addition, the BBWAA votes annually for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The BBWAA's Hall of Fame and award voting results are regularly criticized. They are often accused of applying inconsistent standards when judging players for the Hall of Fame , as well as ignoring some of the rules put in place by Major League Baseball for determining post-season awards. They've been further criticized, even from within their owns ranks , for failing to unanimously elect a single player to the Hall of Fame.

Controversy Surrounding the Exclusion of Rob Neyer and Keith Law

On December 5 2007, the BBWAA voted to open its membership to Web-based writers employed on a full-time basis by "websites that are credentialed by MLB for post-season coverage." The initial group of 16 writers recommended for approval, on the basis of a BBWAA vote, included writers for CBSSports.com, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo. Best represented among the sites was ESPN, seven of whose writers were voted into the association: Jim Caple, Jerry Crasnick, Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjian, Amy Nelson, Buster Olney and Jayson Stark. Notably missing from the list were ESPN writers Rob Neyer and Keith Law; subsequent reports on Internet message boards and Neyer's ESPN blog identified Neyer and Law as the only two writers whose nominations were unsuccessful among the 18 considered.

Neyer and Law were not considered individually. The new members were voted on as a slate of candidates. When asked by the BBWAA, ESPN officials said Law and Neyer did not regularly attend games as reporters and had no reason to be members. The BBWAA has refused to identify which ESPN officials they contacted, and both Neyer and Law have stated that the BBWAA did not directly contact them or their respective editors on this issue. The BBWAA said they would be considered for membership again if their positions changed. A post on the Biz of Baseball website included the names and badge numbers of all known BBWAA members, the most complete public listing of BBWAA members to date. It included the names of writers and editors who are known not to attend major league games with any regularity, calling into question why this criteria was cited as a reason to exclude Neyer and Law from the organization.

Neyer and Law are known for their in-depth analysis of baseball statistics -- particularly statistics like on-base percentage and slugging percentage, which have grown rapidly in prominence and general acceptance among baseball's fans, executives, reporters and broadcasters in the Internet era. As documented in Michael Lewis' bestseller Moneyball, the baseball establishment (notably scouts and reporters) were reluctant, and sometimes bitterly so, to accept changes in the means by which players and teams were being analyzed. The early part of Neyer's career was spent working with Bill James, whose writings are largely credited with fueling and guiding baseball's statistical evolution.

Both writers, especially Neyer, are known to have sharply criticized the BBWAA for many of its choices for major baseball awards, commonly suggesting that the voting was generally indicative of a failure to recognize value of these new statistics versus that of more "traditional" baseball statistics like batting average and RBI.

Upon release of the news that Neyer and Law were the two writers rejected by the BBWAA for membership, many commentators on baseball message boards (including those of ESPN and Baseball Think Factory) speculated that vindictiveness towards the writers, and bitterness over their bodies of work, were the deciding factors in their exclusion. Some decried the development as censorship on the part of the BBWAA.

While congratulating new members in a blog post, Neyer wrote that "personal grudges" were responsible for his "not making the cut." Neyer was more candid in a message posted on Baseball Think Factory, where he wrote, "I don't know exactly what went down and probably never will. According to BBWAA president Bob Dutton, my membership was rejected because I don't go to the ballpark often enough (not that anybody really knows how often I'm at ballpark). I believe -- based on some scraps of information I've got -- that was merely a convenient pretext for blackballing me, and today I would be a member if I'd been a bit more circumspect with my opinions over the years."

List of current members

Names of members are followed by the name of the organization for whom they write. Complete list of badge members

The New York Times and Washington Post writers have both stated that they are no longer permitted to vote by their employers. The Los Angeles Times has a similar policy , though it appears to be negotiable.

External links

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