With the nation firmly in the grip of Oscar Fever, I got to thinking how it might be time for baseball to move from its current method of announcing awards to something a little showier. Why doesn't MLB have an awards show along the lines of the Academy Awards or the ESPYs?
Before hyping the concept, I must, in all objectivity, examine what baseball might lose if this format were adopted.
Sustained off-season publicity. The current awards season affords baseball a lot of attention during a time when the nation is focused on other sports. Baseball writers especially might want to come after me with torches and pitchforks for suggesting that this prolonged period of award-giving be tossed in favor of doling them all out in a two-hour prime-time ceremony. And they might be right. Would the awards event bring more attention to the sport than it gets from the current format? I honestly don't know. The only way to find out is to try it for one year.
Its dignity. I think baseball chucked its dignity into a ditch when it started taking money to rename stadiums after corporations, but yes, that's a fair point. Does baseball really need to put itself out there like some kind of cheap showgirl?
Negatives aside -- and I'm sure there are a few more unforeseen negative consequences that I do not have the foresight to foresee -- let's proceed as if the show were going to be a reality. How would it take shape?
Timing: When would be the best time for the show? I'm thinking it could be tied to the winter meetings. If a city wants to host the meetings, they'll also have to provide a facility for the awards show. It makes sense in that everyone in the game will be there anyway. On the other hand, the meetings generate a ton of publicity and piggybacking the show on them might defeat its purpose as a publicity generator. So, perhaps the show should be held two or three weeks after the end of the World Series.
Nominees: Baseball has already taken a page from the entertainment awards programs in that it now announces finalists for its awards. Now they would just have to invite those same finalists to the big show, Heisman Trophy style. Even in years where the winner is obvious, it will at least give the runners up a chance to don some serious black-tie accoutrement and get some public love.
Awards: There are four lesser awards (two Rookies and two Managers of the Year) and four major awards (two Cy Youngs and two MVPs). The evening would build to those. That's eight awards. They give out about 20 Oscars and the ceremony runs three-plus hours. If MLB wants to come in at two hours, they can stick to these eight and maybe add the Comeback Player of the Year as well as the Roberto Clemente Award and the Hank Aaron Award.
Musical numbers: Sure, why not? These guys could do one, at least.
Clip reels: Heck yes. To flesh out the program there could be some mini-categories like Catch of the Year, Bomb of the Year, that sort of thing.
In Memoriam: I think this, more than anything else, would be the highlight of the evening: one last chance to applaud for all those who had passed in the year since the last awards show. Players, managers, coaches, scouts, and front office personnel would all get a moment on screen in final tribute. Tell me you wouldn't be crying by the time it was over.
So there's my pitch. Is it something you'd like to see or not? Let your vote be heard in the poll and comments below.