Writers should get out of business of award voting

Justin Verlander got the most first-place votes for the American League Cy Young Award, but finished second overall in the voting. Rob Carr/Getty Images

Like any parent to teenagers, I often present advice that will be ignored, inevitably. Even while knowing this, however, I provide thoughts in the hope that one day a simple baseline of reason becomes a rudder.

So I'll leave this idea here without expectation it will ever be seriously considered: The baseball writers should get out of the business of voting for awards and honors, once and for all.

Because time and again, the writers demonstrate they are much better at reporting news than making news. Kate Upton reacted viscerally to the American League Cy Young Award voting, after her fiancé lost to former teammate Rick Porcello, and maybe her choice of words wasn't perfect, or politic.

But the illogic she illuminated with her Twitter rant is dead on: It really doesn't make sense that Justin Verlander could have more first-place votes than Porcello but lose out on the award partly because he wasn't named for second place or third place or fourth place or fifth place on a couple of ballots.

This is only the latest chapter in the strange history of problems with writer balloting. It dates back to the years when Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were inexplicably left out of the top 10 in MVP voting, or 1996, when Alex Rodriguez got 10 first-place votes but was somehow listed seventh on two ballots, or 1999, when Pedro Martinez missed out on the AL MVP because he was omitted from two ballots. Five years after Willie Mays retired at the end of his historic career, 23 writers didn't vote for him for the Hall of Fame, and a few years later, nine writers failed to vote for Hank Aaron, and 45 for Frank Robinson.

The rest of the writers are supposed to take solace in the fact that many of the clear voting mistakes have been made by a small minority of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, but the reality is that these results impact the reputation of all writers, just as an ethics scandal of one congressman feeds into the negative image of all lawmakers.

The major baseball awards, such as the MVP, are property of the BBWAA, and not Major League Baseball, so the BBWAA cannot distance itself from the Cy Young Award in the same way it could the Hall of Fame voting.

But it should, if it followed the simple principles taught in any credible Journalism 101 course. Reporters should not be creating news; they should aggressively steer away from any conflicts of interest, and voting for awards and honors is a clear conflict of interest.