For years, there's been "talk" about jazzing up the BBWAA's annual awards.
"Instead of spacing them over two weeks, how's about just one big night! Like the Oscars! Or the TV Land Awards!"
Except if you actually thought about it, that was never really going to work. Were you really going to get 25 or 30 players and managers -- most of them with little chance of actually winning -- to attend some awards show in November? Would any TV network really want to foot the bill for such an extravaganza, even if you could convince the players to show up?
Probably not, on both counts.
But Tuesday in their annual Winter Meetings get-together, the Baseball Writers' Association of America approved new procedures that will, for at least one awards season, fundamentally change the landscape.
In conjunction with the MLB Network, there will be four separate awards programs aired, with (as I understand it) a pair of awards per program, Monday through Thursday. Should be good programming, and more compact than in past years when the process was spread over a couple of calendar weeks.
That's the lesser change. The greater change is this: According to the plan, during the week before those four programs, there will be a special to announce the finalists: three apiece for Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Cy Young Awards; five finalists for each of the Most Valuable Player Awards.
If nothing else, this will be a boon for the baseball writers, who typically have little to write about during that week before the award winners are announced. As a baseball writer, I support all boons.
Which is why I voted for the boon.
In other awards news, the BBWAA (including I) voted to rescind "the Schilling Rule," which would have disqualified any player, beginning in 2013, from winning a BBWAA award if his contract included any payment tied to said award.
It was called "the Schilling Rule" because a few years ago, Curt Schilling had a clause in his contract stipulating an extra one million dollars if he were named on just one Cy Young ballot, no matter his overall finish. In the event, he wasn't named on a ballot, but the BBWAA instituted the rule anyway. Presumably because of fears that if a player could get a million bucks for a single third-place vote, someone might be tempted to enter into a, shall we say, inappropriate financial arrangement.
Anyway, in the wake of Schilling's contract the Schilling Rule was passed, but wasn't slated to apply until 2013. But now it won't apply at all, because the vote was overwhelmingly to rescind. Apparently there's been some agreement, official or not, that contracts won't include those particular clauses any more. It's a lovely thing when the BBWAA and player agents work together for the betterment of all...