I'm not much of joiner. Actually, I subscribe to that line from an old Woody Allen movie that I would never want to be a part of an organization that would have someone like me as a member. Oh sure, I like the idea of joining things and being part of a community or a group and all of that. In fact, when I was in high school I was a member of a street gang called The Wilson Drive Cobras. We ran the turf from Race Avenue west to River Drive with an iron fist.
We still do. Watch your step.
But the truth is I don't like leaving the house. I once almost joined the Elks Club until it dawned on me that I might actually have to go hang out at the local Elks Club. Come on... there's only so much duck pin bowling a guy can do.
Nevertheless, I can't help but be intrigued by the recent carping amongst some media types regarding membership into the Baseball Writers Association of America, or BBWAA as they like to call themselves. Just like the Elks Club, I am not a member of the BBWAA because I work for the web site of a regional cable television sports station. Food chain-wise that makes me a bottom feeder, but what are you going to do?
The requisite for membership in the BBWAA was that one had to be a full-time employee of a newspaper and also cover baseball regularly. That was until this winter when some of the ex-newspaper writers working for big cable TV sports station web sites were re-admitted to the club. No big deal, right?
Apparently there are a bunch of people out there who are joiners. Not only do they join clubs that want them as members, but also they want to join groups that don't want them. No, we aren't talking about racist or sexist groups because that's totally different. It's illegal, too. Besides, the most boring club in the world is the one where everyone is exactly like you. Who wants that? Not to sound like a Benetton ad or anything, but there's nothing worse than being around a whole bunch of people that think the same way. Diversity in ideas is the best thing that can happen to any gathering.
Anyways, whenever people get left out of something there is always a big stink and that seems to be what is going on with the BBWAA these days. It seems as if a handful of well known Internet baseball gurus were denied membership into the BBWAA because, it seems, they don't actually attend baseball games.
Now I'm not going to name names because the BBWAA rejects really don't need the publicity. One of them, in particular, is pretty good at drawing attention to himself enough as it is already having been accused of leaving fake reviews for his stat-soaked baseball book(s) on Amazon.com. Nevertheless, it appears as if those dudes really don't understand the purpose of the BBWAA and its mission. And frankly, why anyone really needs membership in that particular association is beyond me.
Aside from being a secret society, a lot like the Elks or Skull & Bones without the pedigree, the BBWAA's aim is to provide access and convenience at the ballpark for its members, and provide oversight on working conditions for its members and the media. Additionally, certain members who travel regularly with the team they cover vote on the BBWAA awards that are given independent of Major League Baseball, and other media organizations. Writers who have 10 consecutive years of membership are given a vote for the Hall-of Fame, though that's an honor bestowed by the Hall of Fame. If the folks who run the Hall decide to give the vote to any other group, there's nothing the BBWAA can do aside from open up its own Hall of Fame and Museum.
If that happens I don't think too many people would go. Cooperstown is really quite lovely.
The fact is that folks like me who are adept at sending out faxes or e-mails to clubs to ask for credentials don't need the BBWAA. Neither do those whiny rejects from ESPN and other outlets.
Besides, clubs have certain criteria. The Elks insist that its members be Americans and believe in God. The folks at the Augusta National Golf Club want its members to be (white) men with $250,000 to $500,000 for yearly fees. The BBWAA wants newspaper writers, a select few Internet dudes and regular attendance at the ballpark... that and $50 gets one in. That's it. So as far as clubs go, it kind of sucks.
Hell, there isn't even any hazing -- no ass paddling, pin wearing or binge drinking...
But if they get duck pin bowling, I want in. Until then, I'll keep avoiding all clubs that want people like me as members and I'll keep sending out those faxes.