#Hot Corner

The short and unhappy life of the Curt Schilling Rule

Hunter Martin

A few days ago, someone asked me (via Twitter) about something I had completely forgotten about. Even though it was big news at the time and I wrote about it. Probably twice. Anyway, here's the something, from six years ago:

Baseball players no longer would receive bonuses for winning the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young or rookie awards bestowed by the Baseball Writers' Association of America under a rule passed Wednesday.

Starting in 2013, players with such bonus clauses in their contracts will be banned from receiving votes for any BBWAA awards. The lag time is designed to give agents and teams an opportunity to adapt to the ban; only a handful of players are already under contract for 2013.


The vote was 41-21 on the rule, which was brought up by The Associated Press several years ago. The BBWAA appointed a committee to discuss the rule with the commissioner's office and the players' association.

"We've been on record for the past 20 years as being opposed to bonus clauses related these awards," O'Connell said. "The idea behind this was to toughen our stance against these clauses."

Seemed like a really good idea! Especially after Curt Schilling joked about giving a kickback to a writer who sent a Cy Young vote Schilling's way. At least one outlet even called it "the Schilling Rule". This was a big deal. Just look at all those Google hits!

It didn't take. I've made some inquiries with those in the know, and I'm still a little hazy on the particulars, but the BBWAA took another vote and rescinded the rule. Well, that's not precisely true.

Just one day after that 41-21 vote in favor of the rule, the BBWAA's board of directors voted 7-0 to table the rule. Which didn't make nearly as many headlines, perhaps because the rule wasn't actually rescinded. Instead,

Said the BBWAA in a statement, "It is the goal of the BBWAA to work out a compromise acceptable to everyone."

Ultimately, the compromise was struck: Business as usual.

Which probably made some sense. Practically speaking, it would have been difficult and perhaps impossible for the BBWAA to identify every bonus clause in every player's contract. Without the help of the Players' Association, anyway. Which wasn't likely to happen. As the BBWAA's Jack O'Connell told me in an e-mail message, "While we are not crazy about having bonus clauses tied to our awards, in an odd way it is actually a compliment... And since there is no evidence of awards clauses playing a major factor in the balloting, the BBWAA is comfortable with the process."

Basically, the BBWAA wanted to make a point. Whether the point was worth making, or whether the point was made at all, I'll leave to you.

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