Defending the sportswriters from a rabid SchillingBy
Let’s forget for a few minutes that Curt Schilling is on the Red Sox, and let’s forget his stupid “mystique and aura” comments from 2001. Let’s instead just consider Curt Schilling to be a baseball player with strong opinions who shares those opinions on his blog. Maybe this way, we can have as unbiased a discussion about Curt as is possible on a Yankee blog.
Last week, when the Baseball Writers Association of American first instituted the Curt Schilling Rule which bans players from awards consideration if their contracts feature incentive clauses, I applauded this move. The members of the BBWAA are hardly the least biased folks in the room, and I can’t really blame them. Eight months of traveling with a team and interacting with players on a daily basis will inevitably lead to some soft feelings toward some of the players.
While the BBWAA has disappointingly tabled their resolution pending discussion with MLB and the Players Association, the man for whom the proposal was named — Mr. 38 Pitches himself — was none too happy. In a rather personal and often rambling blog post, Schilling lays into the BBWAA for many of the inconsistencies that bloggers have long noted about their voting patterns. He rails on voters omitting pitchers from MVP ballots or Hall of Fame ballots for petty reasons some years only to include them in others. He wonders why traditional print writers are any more or less qualified to vote than the writers like Buster Olney, Jayson Stark, Rob Neyer and Ken Rosenthal, to name a few, who make their living online.
All in all, Schilling makes some very valid points. But as is often the case with Curt Schilling, there’s rather big but (and it’s not his. Zing!). Schilling takes a very strong exception to BBWAA Secretary Jack O’Connell’s statement. “But the attachment of a bonus to these awards creates a perception that we’re trying to make these guys rich,” O’Connell said. Schilling starts out hot and goes from there:
Give me a break. Don’t get me wrong, 100k, 500k, 1 million dollars is a huge sum of money. But to think that these guys ever approached this as anything other than them being touted as the ‘experts’ on who wins what is crap. Add to that I seriously doubt anyone ever looked at this from a perception standpoint and thought wow, they are making this guy rich. I would disagree.
Curt Schilling may disagree, but let’s look at this from a journalistic standpoint. Curt Schilling’s new contract includes a clause where he needs to draw just one third-place vote to kick in a $1 million bonus. Do you know how many Cy Young Awards have depended upon those third-place votes? I’m leaning toward none.
So what’s from stopping one of Curt’s friends from tossing a throw-away third-place vote his way? Every voter fills out a 1-2-3 ballot, and if Curt ends up with one meager vote, the $1 million is his. That reeks of unethical journalistic behavior right there.
Schilling, in my opinion, has it wrong. This move by the BBWAA isn’t one of their efforts to steal the thunder from the players; it’s an effort to make sure that all of their voting members are following the guidelines of their profession. It’s a sad commentary on the state of journalism than such a move by the BBWAA is necessary, but it isn’t an attempt, as Schilling would have us believe, by the journalists to upstage the players.
In the end, Curt says it best himself. “It only takes 1-2 guys to screw it up and those guys exist in decent numbers,” he writes. The same holds true on the other end as well. In this case, it only takes one guy to kick back a million bucks, and any effort to end that practice should be applauded.