It's awards season in Tinsel Town, so Happy New Year, sports fans. With every step you take in Los Angeles, out every car window and at a water cooler near you, discussion is sure to center on one particular red carpet dress or another, followed by a diatribe about how in the world it can possibly be that so-and-so got snubbed in this year's voting.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the Golden Globes, Sunday at 5:00 p.m. PST on NBC. Oscar nominations are scheduled for January 16, the SAG Awards two days later and finally the Academy Awards on March 2, a good four weeks after pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training.
Clayton Kershaw's 2013 National League Cy Young Award is being prepared. Since the torch relay idea didn't get out of committee, the trophy will be carefully packaged for transport, with presentation expected at the Dodgers' home opener, April 4 at Chavez Ravine.
And as wonderful as the Producers Guild Awards and the Directors Guild Awards may be, nothing in this town matches the anticipation of the locally-based Internet Baseball Writers Association of America's (IBWAA) 2014 Hall of Fame election results. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but while the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), with its 101-year head start, has grown to around 700 members and decision-making prominence, the IBWAA claims 175 members and the curiosity of an industry. The BBWAA, along with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's longtime blessing, has the official say in the Cooperstown vote. The season awards vote too. The IBWAA has neither. Yet.
Without further ado, the winners are: Greg Maddux with 98.23% of the vote, Tom Glavine with 88.50%, Frank Thomas with 84.07%, and Craig Biggio with 78.76%.
Complete 2014 voting results are as follows:
Mike Piazza's name does not appear on the ballot because the IBWAA elected him in 2013, while the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) took the collar, enshrining no one. Barry Larkin, though elected by the BBWAA in 2012, remains on the IBWAA ballot because he has not managed the 75% threshold required for election.
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the BBWAA.
Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden, Jim Caple, Mike Petriello, Mark A. Simon and David Schoenfield, ESPN.com; Kevin Baxter and Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times; Barry Bloom, Chris Haft, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Thomas, MLB.com; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports, Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk, Ian Casselberry and Amanda Rykoff, Bloguin, Bill Chuck, GammonsDaily.com, Fred Claire, Vince Gennaro, Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, King Kaufman, Bleacher Report, Kevin Kennedy, Jonah Keri, Grantland, Vlae Kershner, SFGate.com, Chuck Culpepper and Will Leitch, Sports on Earth, Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times, Joe McDonnell, FoxSportsWest.com, Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com, Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News, Wendy Thurm, FanGraphs, Eric Stephen, True Blue LA; Vincent Bonsignore, Clay Fowler, Tom Hoffarth, J.P. Hoornstra and Jill Painter, Los Angeles Daily News; Pedro Moura, Orange County Register, and prominent baseball authors Paul Dickson, Phil Dixon, Peter Golenbock, Josh Pahigian, Joe Posnanski, John Rosengren and Dan Schlossberg.
The IBWAA seeks neither to disparage nor replace the BBWAA, but will have fun at the older group's expense, and there are distinctions.
The BBWAA requires a ten-year wait for a writer to earn a Hall of Fame vote, along with yearly fees which, if the rate remains as it now, will cost a new member $650 before a ballot is touched. The IBWAA has no waiting period, a suggested lifetime fee of $20, and admits most members free.
The BBWAA has a 5,000-word constitution, a section of which details the rather narrow hoops a writer must jump through to become a member, and explains how, in the vast majority of cases, a writer is required to be affiliated with a daily print publication, while covering baseball full-time. The IBWAA welcomes all Internet baseball writers. Period.
The BBWAA uses a paper ballot, snail mail, and for last-minute voting, a fax machine. The IBWAA conducts all business electronically.
The IBWAA is nimble, can and has formed a consensus in a matter of hours and is eager to change, based on the suggestions of its members. The BBWAA has members fly in from 49 states and presumably several countries to sit in a room, and in at least one case — with a chance to develop guidelines for steroid era Hall of Fame candidates in 2009 — voted to do nothing.
The IBWAA gathered via the Internet to discuss the matter the next morning. We didn't come up with much, and our ranks were meager at the time — 10 days into our existence — but at least we had the initiative to take up the topic and attempt to lead, rather than vote not to vote, which is what the BBWAA did, essentially. And here we are beginning 2014, with a PED-cloud hanging over the Cooperstown debate, larger and darker than ever.
But let's be clear. I do not see the BBWAA as a bunch of idiots, bounders without a clue as to holding an election. I do not question their best of intentions, nor imagine their love for or understanding of the game to be less than their counterparts in the IBWAA. Not in the least.
And while this may come as a surprise to some in both groups, I did not start the IBWAA because of an increasing exasperation over election results. Sure, I was stirred by the enshrinement of some players and frustrated about the exclusion of others. But I understand how difficult it is to get people to agree on things in this country, with so many on either side of an argument finding those on the other to be incomprehensibly wrong, if not completely out of their minds. And if there's a better system for sorting things out than the democratic process, I've yet to hear of it.
I started the IBWAA because, although I'd been blogging about the game for 10 years at the time, I couldn't get a vote (much less a sniff from the BBWAA) to save my life. And I wanted a vote.
I couldn't get credentialed either. I am now, and I suppose I could apply for BBWAA membership today. What do you think of my chances? No matter, I'll stick where I'm welcome. With the few, the proud, the baseball savvy women and men of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America.
Congrats to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio. The IBWAA salutes you.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole is the Founding Director of the IBWAA and covers the Dodgers for LA Weekly.