A press release from the BBA:
"The Writer of the Year Award was created by the BBA to honor those writers who, beyond being exceptionally great at their craft, have taken to the internet in a full and vigorous fashion. Voters were instructed to take into account not only the writing abilities of the nominees but also their online presense, whether via blog or other media, as well as how they interact with their followers and fans."There were 15 nominees and 110 BBA members (including me) cast a ballot.
Posnanski won handily, receiving 35 first place votes and 218 overall points (the ballots were tabulated on a 5-3-1 point scale). Rob Neyer had 12 first place votes and 136 points, narrowly edging past Peter Gammons, who had 20 first place votes and 134 points. Buster Olney and Craig Calcaterra were the only other nominees to receive at least 10% of the total vote.
My admiration for Posnanski's writing* should be well-known to everyone reading this, and I'll say some more nice things in a minute, but I did not include him on my ballot.
* The quality is almost always top-notch and the excellence never suffers from the daunting number of posts. Words just pour out of this guy. He never stops writing! He's the Stephen King of sports bloggers.
In his latest post, which serves as an acceptance speech, Posnanski writes:
I believe that we are in a bit of a golden age of writing in America. I would not be able to put that in any great historical context, but I know that there is way too much wonderful longform writing for me to read, and I read a lot. ... There is also incredible sportswriting going on now. ...All right, so why didn't I vote for Pos at all?
And yet ... I'm not sure we appreciate how good it is out there because at the same time there's also more terrible work out there than ever before, or anyway it seems that way. That's the power of technology -- there is just MORE, always, everywhere. It's hard to keep up, and it's hard to know which way to turn.
So, in this way, I admire the people who give out awards; I appreciate their quest to find quality.
Three weeks ago, BBA members received voting instructions for the Ring Lardner Award:
You can judge the best way to mix and match these, but the qualities of the Lardner winner should be quality writing, a strong internet presence, and interaction with their followers/fans/commenters. Again, you may want to put the emphasis on writing, which is perfectly fine. The others should be at least considered, though.I emailed BBA founder Daniel Shoptaw: "Is this a lifetime award or just for 2010 or something else?"
He replied: "We'll give it out every year but [you] probably should consider their entire career."
1. Peter GammonsPosnanski does not yet have the longevity as a nationally-known writer to unseat any of those three guys. Gammons and Boswell wrote their best stuff long before the internet came along, and Neyer's cumulative influence - using his ESPN column to bring progressive statistical thought to a mainstream audience - surpasses Posnanski's.
2. Rob Neyer
3. Thomas Boswell
The BBA plans to rename the award after Posnanski. I'm not in favour of that.
Maybe Pos is an all-time great sportswriter. Perhaps he belongs in the upper echelon of writers that we will be reading and re-reading 50 years from now, but it seems far too soon to decide that right now. As good as he is, Posnanski doesn't come close to someone like Roger Angell (who, admittedly, has zero internet presence and I don't think was even on the BBA ballot). If the award is going to be named after a writer whose career has included the internet era, then how could the choice not be Gammons?
If this is an award for only (or predominately) internet writing, then Pos is a great choice, perhaps the perfect choice. Although most baseball journalists have their stuff online, and they use Twitter for quick news updates, no one blogs as often as Posnanski. Plus, all of his work can be read for free.
Posnanski has embraced the internet, using it to have a dialogue with his readers (though he rarely, if ever, appears in his blog's comments) and as an outlet for the dozens of ideas and hundreds of thousands of words that he could not possibly post at SI. Much like Bill James, Posnanski can make you laugh while you are learning, a rare trait. He has established a standard (or one standard) by which future baseball writers will be judged.