With less than a week having passed since I joined the Society for American Baseball Research, I signed up online today to be a member of another group I’ve been eying, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America.
Launched July 4, 2009 in Los Angeles, the IBWAA is an alternative to the old-guard Baseball Writers Association of America. That group celebrated its 100-anniversary in 2008, votes each year on who gets into the Hall of Fame, and only recently started letting online writers be part of its member body. Before that, the group was restricted to newspaper and magazine sportswriters, and members still must pay dues for ten years before getting a Hall of Fame vote.
I may or may not eventually get into the BBWAA depending on if I attempt another foray into sportswriting (I briefly clerked on the sports desk of the Sacramento Bee a few years ago.) However, the IBWAA allows any baseball writer on the Internet to join for a yearly fee of $20 and accepts PayPal. As I mentioned in my entry about joining SABR, I have recovered financially in the past couple of months and I’m looking for ways to promote this blog and meet other baseball followers. Thus, it was an easy decision and simple two-minute process to join, no rigorous application or vetting process. It goes without saying that I know I joined the right group for me.
I first read of the IBWAA through a fellow blogger, Devon Young, when he wrote in late December about filling out his Hall of Fame ballot as a group member. Devon and I are both small, independent operations, near as I can tell (unless My First Cards is actually a ghost blog by Monsanto.) I enjoy Devon’s writing, as fun and informative as a blog about baseball cards should be, and I like to think I keep some people entertained. Still, neither of us commands vast legions of followers. The IBWAA is seemingly designed for guys like us. We get a symbolic voice in baseball awards, as well as great exposure and a chance to build credentials.
That being said, there are some names in the group. The founding IBWAA class included David Pinto of Baseball Musings, one of the most-read baseball blogs, as well as journalists from the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, among others. A senior writer at Sports Illustrated and baseball author named Peter Golenbock also joined recently. And with the blogosphere continuing to evolve and become more legitimized, the IBWAA should only keep growing and attracting big names. As it stands, I think the IBWAA is already more to date with the times than the BBWAA.
I’m happy to be getting in early and look forward to the many benefits like getting to cast the symbolic Hall of Fame ballot in about eight months. The group’s stated purpose is to eventually get a real Hall of Fame vote. It’d be pretty awesome if that happens while I’m a member.