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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.

MLB, MLBA officially announce the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 04:  A job seeker shakes hands with a recruiter during a HireLive career fair on June 4, 2015 in San Francisco, California. According to a report by payroll processor ADP,  201,000 jobs were added by businesses in May.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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In the past, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have not issued official statements announcing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement until after it had been ratified by the players and clubs. The thinking was simple: there is no agreement until it is officially ratified. Which makes some sense.

A few moments ago, however, the league and the union issued a joint press release with a full summary of the new CBA terms, quotes from Tony Clark and Rob Manfred and the whole nine yards. You can see all of the detailed terms here.

The most likely explanation for doing it now: there are different people running MLB than were running it five years ago and they’re just doing things differently. My fun conspiracy theory, however, is that due to the division and acrimony in the player ranks about which we’re just hearing, the league and union wanted to make this appear to be a far more done deal than it technically is and thus be able to paint objectors who may pop up during the ratification process as Monday morning quarterbacks. Hey, crazier things have happened!

In the meantime, go check out some of the fun terms. There are a load of them there. In the meantime before you do that, here are the official statements from baseball’s honchos.

Rob Manfred:

“I am pleased that we completed an agreement prior to the deadline that will keep the focus on the field during this exciting time for the game.  There are great opportunities ahead to continue our growth and build upon the popularity that resonated throughout the Postseason and one of the most memorable World Series ever.  This agreement aims to further improve the game’s healthy foundation and to promote competitive balance for all fans.

“I thank Tony Clark, his colleagues and many Major League Players for their work throughout the collective bargaining process.  We appreciate their shared goals for the betterment of the sport.  I am grateful for the efforts of our Labor Policy Committee, led by Ron Fowler, as well as Dan Halem and our entire Labor Relations Department.”

Tony Clark:

“Every negotiation has its own challenges. The complexities of this agreement differ greatly from those in the past if for no other reason than how the industry has grown.  With that said, a fair and equitable deal is always the result you are working toward, and, once again, I believe we achieved that goal. I would like to thank our Players for their involvement, input and leadership throughout. Their desire to protect our history and defend and advance the rights and interests of their peers is something I am truly grateful for.

“I would also like to recognize Commissioner Rob Manfred, Dan Halem, MLB and the Labor Policy Committee for their hard work over the last year plus, and for staying committed to the process.  In coming to an agreement, this deal allows both sides to focus on the future growth and development of the sport. There is a lot of work to be done and we look forward to doing it.”

Peace in our time.

Breaking down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame Ballot: John Schuerholz

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 27: Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz is shown before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. Next up: John Schuerholz 

The case for his induction:

He’s one of the greatest GMs of all time, having broken into baseball in what was then the best organization in baseball, the Balitmore Orioles, and then worked his way up to the GM chair in another fantastic organization, the 1970s and 80s Kansas City Royals. After a World Series win there he moved on to Atlanta and, with the help of his predecessor GM and future manager, Bobby Cox, helped bring the Braves back from oblivion and turned them into perpetual division title winners. His influence, in terms of his disciples and the weight he still throws around Major League Baseball, is incalculable. If there are any arguments about his place in the executive hierarchy in the past 50 years, they’re about where in the top two or three he places, not whether he’s worthy of the Hall of Fame, at least by historical standards.

The case against his induction:

You could make a strong case that executives have no business being in there, but that ship sailed a long dang time ago. You could also nitpick Schuerholz’s record — David Cone for Ed Hearn? Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada? — but show me a GM who doesn’t have some clunkers on his resume. You can lay resposibility for the manager challenge system in replay at his feet, but I don’t think that outweighs his accomplishments.

Schuerholz was part of turning a fledging organization into one of the best in baseball and, in his next job, turned a totally cratered, losing and barren organization into a perpetual winner. It’s hard to beat that.

Would I vote for him?

Sure. There are 33 executives in the Hall of Fame. Schuerholz had more success than most of ’em. I wish there were more, say, third basemen in the Hall than there are — there are only 16 of them — but if you’re going to judge Schuerholz by his peers, he comes out pretty well.

Will the Committee vote for him?

Yep. The Veterans Committees of the recent past have been loathe to induct a lot of players who are worthy, but they’ve always been good to put in noted executives. It’s almost as if these guys make the Veterans Committee by, you know, being tight with noted executives. I feel like he’ll glide in.