It’s that time of year. The BBWAA is at it’s MOST insufferable!
The Base Ball Writers Association of America.
This is one of the more obnoxious groups we have in this country. Individually, many probably have endearing qualities. They may go home and be good family men (and women (actually, let’s face it, mostly men)), good neighbors, and pillars of the community. But when they’re plying their trade, aka writing about the accomplishments of other grown men playing a kids’ game, it is simply unbearable. They can really be moralizing windbags, lecturing on baseball and lately have decided to include nonsensical political takes in their coverage that nobody asked for. And no time is worse for this, than December.
In December, we have Free Agency & the Hot Stove heating up. This allows for reporters to carry the water for their contacts (agents and front office guys), and hype up their storylines, so they can get the scoop and “break” news by tweeting it roughly 45 seconds before a better reporter tweets it out.
It’s also peak time for a are rising salaries good or bad for the game or A family of four pays $____, to attend a game, is the sport too inaccessible “thought provoking” column from one of these hardos. Because if there is someone I want social commentary from it’s a 52 year old jock-sniffer who fairly evenly divides his free time between Homewood Suites continental breakfasts and Bruce Springsteen concerts.
Beyond the Hot Stove, December is also Hall of Fame Ballot time. And this is when the REAL righteousness comes out. There are somewhere over 400 BBWAA members who get HOF ballots, obviously a wide range of people. Different experiences, different ages, different thoughts on the game. As a group, it’s become less old and curmudgeon-y — as witnessed by Mariano Rivera’s unanimous selection– but it’s still a pretty high and mighty crew. And I’ve found I can simplify the whole thing and divide it into a couple of helpful categories:
The Old Guard: Small Hall; votes only on the “eye test”; no whiff of PED’s; favors guys who “play the game the right way” (baseball translation: doesn’t votefor many Latin guys); Loves automatic Milestones (500 HR’s, 250 wins, etc)
The New Guard: younger; bases everything on the principle “do the opposite of what The Old Guard does”; likely to vote for 10 every time because “why can’t we vote for as many as we want”
Obsessive Stat Guy: A subset of the new guard; cares about nothing else other than the stats; has a good stat for everything; believes playoffs are just a small sample; probably about 800 hours of research and analysis before submitting ballot
Wannabe Obsessive Stat Guy: actually a subset of the Old Guard, but wants to seem hip & cool; takes names on ballot, sorts by WAR, and votes for everyone with over 60
The Activist: Picks out a guy in his last year on the ballot, and makes him a cause; these guys tend to work together; more often than not, their “cause” is an undeserving player; gets outraged if you point this out; unlikely to vote for Curt Schilling
The Born-Again Old Guard: former “no” on PED guys; probably submitted a blank ballot as a protest at some point; now realizes that PED’s are a slippery slope, so just vote for the best guys; has written a soul-searching mea culpa piece about his philosophical shift that nobody read
Normal, Rational, Balanced Thinker: By far the smallest group; properly weighs statistical analysis, postseason impact, and eye test; considers relevance and impact within contemporaries, not just statistical milestones; correctly assesses PED players within the context of the PED era, and will vote for them if necessary
For the record, my picks: Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Schilling, Ramirez