This is fun. The Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America votes on the Astros MVP every year. And then, later this winter, there’s a banquet held in his honor which also serves as a fundraiser for team charities and as an unofficial kickoff to the 2012 season. And the winner of the MVP award: Hunter Pence, who was traded from the team in July.
Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle has a major problem with this, and I can’t see a single word in his column with which I disagree.
Pence was not as valuable to the team overall as Carlos Lee and maybe some other guys who were actually on the team all year instead of half of it. More to the point, Justice sees the vote as the local writers’ way to embarrass the Astros and team management for their awful year.
But the stuff with which I agree the most is the righteous noise Justice brings regarding the role of the BBWAA in this modern age, it’s increasing irrelevance now that teams have increasingly usurped the news dissemination business — and it is a business — and given that in many instances the best writers covering each team (i.e. the MLB.com beat writers) aren’t even allowed in the BBWAA. It’s a story of institutional rot, and Justice freakin’ nails it. And it means way more coming from him on the inside than it means coming from any of us who have said some similar things about it on the outside over the years.
The actual workaday members of the BBWAA — the men and women who cover the teams on a daily basis and vote on the league-wide postseason awards– are, for the most part, a sharp bunch who do their job well and honor the institution to which they belong. But the greater membership, which contains hundreds of people who haven’t covered the game for years yet still retain Hall of Fame voting rights and play gatekeeper for the overall organization, is a mess. And it leads to stuff like this.