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From the 2011 Winter Meetings: How the BBWAA is Adapting to the Online World PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 15:48

BBWAASome knew -- many didn’t -- but last year I applied for inclusion into the BBWAA. I spent a great deal of time combing through the Baseball Writers’ bylaws and constitution, and worked diligently to meet the criteria. Fulltime, paid writer? Check. Accredited with league? Check. Went to a good number of games? Check? LLC?… World Series?…. Winter Meetings and other jewel events?…. Check, check, check.

The 30 min. meeting was enlightening.

Q: “As a business writer, why do you need to be at games?”
A: ”Transactions, etc. influence the game on the field. The BBWAA members here at the Winter Meetings prove that”

Q: “Is Bizball LLC your ‘job’?
A: “Yes, but I wish it paid better.”

Q: “Is this about voting for the awards?”
A: “No. This is about working.”

There was more, but you get the idea.

In the end, I was denied, but as I said at the time, of all the things in life I have been denied for, this one ranked pretty low. I had expected it, even if the league had given me a solid recommendation. And, in reality it did nothing in terms of blocking 99% of my access. Games, postseason, Winter Meetings, All-Star Game, I would continued to be credentialed for.

It’s subjective, the BBWAA inclusion process, but I get it. I had to go through it, talk repeatedly with many members, and think hard about the process, but I get it.

The shift going on right now is something that they’re just now coming to grips with. If you’re a blogger in the basement, earn a small paycheck, and apply, you’re not going to get in. Work from your basement, earn a small regular paycheck as it’s your job but work for a large-ish online outlet with a staff, you have better odds. Remember, you’re applying as an outlet with individuals underneath, not as a person.

I was asked then if I was covering sports business and why I would need a card to do my work. Technically, you might say so. But, if you read enough of what goes on here, the lion’s share is transactional, or matters that hit on how the business impacts rosters. If it’s the Basic Agreement, then you’re talking how the Draft influences how that new dynamic will intersect with free agency, arbitration, etc. Look at how roster make-up, team contract structures and the dollar amounts that are attached and they are as important as scouting a player, himself. As I said to a longtime card member on Monday night, “If being a BBWAA is about going to the ballpark, and that’s why some are turned down due to lack of attending games, then why are you at the Winter Meetings? Aren’t you kind of treading on my turf?” The member smiled and said, “That’s a good point.”

Bizball LLC wasn’t big enough, but it’s quite possible that it could be one day. SBNation did not gain inclusion this year, but FanGraphs, did. The latter applied last year and was turned down. Familiarity matters. I remember how there was this incredible feeling of change when Baseball Prospectus gained members in 2008. Things are slowly shifting.

Is it good that SBNation didn’t get in this year? Probably not. Do I believe they continue to be on the outside looking in? No. The BBWAA is not a group of newspaper writers that don’t understand what is occurring in the industry. What they are trying to do adapt to the “new world” while being cognizant of some key pillars of what the Association is about. Remember, this isn’t about the awards, it’s about “working”, how you work, and who you work for. The awards are ancillary, as much as fans would like to think otherwise.

Much like all things in baseball, matters do not move at a lightening pace. Patience is a virtue. I’m sticking to that with the BBWAA and what’s going on with the inclusion process moving forward.

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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