Okay, everyone, ignore this post if you don't don't really care about what's going on with baseball journalism and the future of team coverage. Obviously, I have an interest there and a couple of different announcements the past couple of days have me thinking about it.
First of all, congratulations to Richard Justice for his move to MLB.com. I'm a much bigger fan of Justice's writing than the majority of you, because I don't get sucked in by his flip-flopping or incendiary posts. I get why people don't like him, but I also appreciate the unique voice he's carved out for himself and remember how dead-on his baseball writing can be.
But, with his move to MLB.com, there should be a question of whether he gets to keep his affiliation with the Baseball Writers Association of America. After all, the BBWAA doesn't permit Brian McTaggart to vote on its awards, even though he's certainly a big part of Astros coverage. I'm not certain whether Justice will get shut out, though, since Peter Gammons seems to still have a vote.
The other piece of news is that Rob Neyer, Amy Nelson and the rest of the exceptional writers over at Baseball Nation were denied accreditation by the BBWAA, but the team over at FanGraphs was accepted into the organization. It's a great step for FanGraphs, but a puzzling one for SB Nation. What the .com folks have done lately is some of the best work on the internet, covering a variety of topics with depth and analysis.
I have a problem with Rob Neyer not being granted membership, but I think the bigger problem comes from teams who have less media coverage than some of the big markets. I've said over and over again how much I appreciate what Zachary Levine and Steve Campbell have done on the Astros beat. Not every team has that kind of solid analysis and coverage from their beat guys, much less a sabermetrically-flavored analysis.
At the same time, there are plenty of markets that only have one newspaper covering the team any more. Houston is one example, but they could very easily be talking about Milwaukee, or Denver or any number of cities who have seen their coverage shrink.
In those cases, the local SB Nation blog certainly provides a welcome addition to team coverage. Having another site dedicated to talking about your team is a great thing for that club, or it should be. As I've said before, I've got a buddy who's a voting member of the Houston chapter, but didn't go to a game this season. He also told me several times this season how I was probably more connected with what was going on with the team than he was.
But, and this is a big but, I don't want BBWAA accreditation for this site.
None of our writers go to games, we are not around the team to ask questions and get a feel for what's going on. Watching the games on TV and finding new ways to look at players through Pitch F/X and statistics is great, but it's not the same as covering the team. So, I'm not arguing to be included, but I do think the BBWAA missed the boat with the national site.
In fact, I think they've missed the boat with the internet in general. It's great that they have given membership to Baseball Prospectus and now, FanGraphs, but they're still behind the times. If they do keep Justice in but won't let McTaggart in, that's a problem. If they shut Neyer and Nelson and the rest of the Baseball Nation crew out, that's a problem. I'm just not sure how they can fix it without opening the floodgates at this point.