Does the BBWAA need more Craig Calcaterras and Aaron Gleemans?

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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.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.