January 22, 2009, 9:18 p.m. I stand here today humbled by the task before us.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
This is the journey we continue today. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
All this we can do, all this we must do, and all this from a man whose father less than 50 years ago could not have had a Hall of Fame vote merely because he wasn't a baseball writer.
To those who cling to power through lethargy or the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand to Bert Blyleven if he will unclench his fist.
So on this cold and beautiful January day, I present to you a new union, inspired not by our forbearers but because of them. Ladies and gentlemen, your Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA).
No joke. While we'll try our hand at humor as a matter of course, and primarily at the expense of the Base Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), the IBWAA is a real union.
We'll have a website, www.InternetBaseballWriters.com, in the coming weeks, we'll elect officers, and we'll work within our means, collecting only modest dues. Ten bucks a year gets you a voice for one year.
All Internet baseball writers are welcome. Those with his or her own baseball website of any kind, or who contribute the written word to one, are invited to join. Your active participation is encouraged.
Why the new union? Plain and simple: the BBWAA gets it wrong more often than is acceptable, and they don't recognize the Internet world as valid.
In addition, BBWAA goes out of its way to keep fresh voices at bay, requiring ten year's of paid membership for writers to earn a Hall vote. We're talking multiples of thousands of dollars, plus a wait that's longer than most marriages.
BBWAA's guidelines establish that unless his or her publication is attached to a newspaper with an actual printed edition, Internet writers are excluded. And from the looks of things, with dailies dropping like flies in the vicinity of Andruw Jones, that might be a pretty small group in a year or two.
So we thought we'd be proactive. We're betting the IBWAA will be a thriving entity by the time the BBWAA comes crawling.
So here's what we're going to do. The IBWAA will send out ballots on the same day as the traditional writer's union, we'll use the same deadlines, and each writer will get one vote. We will not limit the amount of entries per publication, we will encourage comments, and we'll publish the results hours before the old guys. They'll be alert after a nap that way. And we will publicize the hell out of it.
In addition to the annual Hall of Fame elections, we'll count ballots for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Executive of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year. We'll name two complete All-Star Game rosters in July and make selections for Silver Sluggers in October. Again, following the same scheduling as the print union. Again, we'll publicize like there's no tomorrow.
Until we're live with the new website, writers are asked to address their queries to me personally using this link. Memberships may be charged via PayPal or by personal arrangements with me. Any and all suggestions for union activities are very much welcome.
And remember, it's just 22 days till pitchers and catchers and Shawn Estes report…
Speaking of Former Giants Now Future Hall of Famers: Tearful retirement press conferences annoy me generally, but I enjoyed Jeff Kent's, and I'll cut him all the slack in the world. Sure, Kent was more of a dick than was required, but weren't the same criticisms leveled at Kirk Gibson? And with the possible exception of a few BBWAA grudge-holders, isn't Gibby universally admired?
And I don't know about you, but I believe Jeff Kent when he says it was all about winning, and about respect for the game. My guess is you'll appreciate him more when he's gone.
When it comes right down to it, the difference between Kirk Gibson and Jeff Kent is two rings. And one Cooperstown acceptance speech. Yes, I'm confident the mainstream scribes will get it right this one time.
It's not possible to celebrate Jeff Kent any better than Ned Colletti did with this one sentence: "A great baseball player, a great Dodger, and a Hall of Famer."
While I think the club will breathe a little easier without him come Spring Training, and be the better for it in 2009, I'm glad I got to see Kent play, day in and day out, for the last four years, ending his career as a Dodger.
Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…
Jackass of the Week: Tell me this isn't exactly why we need a new union, and a finer breed of writer. From FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, within moments of Kent's press conference: "Retiring Jeff Kent has the most home runs ever while playing second base (351) and made himself into a Hall of Fame candidate. But now for the real debate: Who would make a better dinner companion between Kent and the other ornery Giants star and Kent antagonist, Barry Bonds? I'd take Bonds any day of the week."
Peaceful Transfer of Power: From Manny Ramirez to who, exactly?
Original Gift Idea: For your baseball fan who has everything, he ain't got this. Paraphrasing Jerry Seinfeld, who said about the Ottoman Empire, "An entire empire based on putting your feet up."
Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…
Remember, glove conquers all….
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