Sunday, January 04, 2015

The BBA and me

This must be my morning for mixed feelings. I just wrote about the Dan Haren situation and now I am writing about the Baseball Bloggers Association (BBA). If you haven't heard by now, the BBA has a new president in Niko Goutakolis and he has asked me to be the vice-president. Goutakolis seems to have the energy and ambition to run with this thing and that is a good thing. He asked me to take my position as Veep to balance the young with the old. The old would be me.
I owe a lot to the BBA. Through my association with the association (which works if you think about it), I have "met" lots of people I treasure on Twitter and have even met a few in person. A good chunk of my regular readership comes from these folks I have come to know through the BBA.
As such, I became a chapter president of one of the largest chapters in the BBA and did what I could to promote the writers that were under me. I did link posts, etc. I would like to think it helped, at least a little bit.
But I have also become one of the BBA's most vocal critics in the past few years. Frankly, I was much so that I gave up my chapter presidency because I didn't see the point.
The Baseball Bloggers Association has always been a great idea. It was founded by a very good and very popular man and through his skills grew to include some pretty high-octane writers as well as providing a place for up and coming writers to have a voice and a community. As the world was moving from printed media to online markets, the BBA was timed perfectly to form an association of those of us who developed our online niche.
But a few years ago it bogged down. The founder had small children, his own business and another association around his team that occupied his time. It is understandable that he ran aground on personal resources to take the BBA to the next step. He stepped down and that did not bring improvement. 
A post I shared here led to an upheaval of sorts and the founder took back the presidency and hope was raised. But his time constraints had not eased or changed and sometimes the entrepreneur is not the guy to take a company to the next level.
So here we are after basically four years of stagnation and deflation. Other groups have passed us by. There has been no spark and no energy. We have not gone to the next level but have had our roof bowed by really heavy snow.
Mr. Goutakolis has repeatedly asked me to make a statement. I'm not quite sure this is what he had in mind (wan smile). I agreed to be his vice president for two reasons. First, there is still that measure of gratitude for what my membership has meant to me. Second, if I was going to be vocal in my discontent, how could I not want to be part of the solution if there is one?
So far, I like the energy and communication I see from our new president. I hope he can get the BBA moving. There is so much to be done. The BBA needs to be a real mechanism for promotion of its members. It needs to rebuild its reputation within the baseball writing community. The BBA needs to focus on quality writing and be judicious in who can join. There needs to be avenues of cooperation and perhaps even regional meetings to bring writers together. Perhaps there should be a fee involved to be a member so there is a budget to accomplish something.
There needs to be better structure to voting for awards and participation by members is not optional. Either you participate in these votes or you are not a member. Our press releases need to become news. As our members move up in their writing careers, we should be featuring them and taking some credit for the advancement. Our involvement with the BBA should mean something on our resumes.
On the personal side, Niko Goutakolis' request of me couldn't have come to me at a lower ebb. After writing nearly 4,000 long form posts over the last eleven years, I'm a little toasted and have had a bit of a block in my writing in the last few months. I have always been nothing but prolific, but have struggled to put up posts lately. Perhaps at my low energy cycle, it would have been fairer to Mr. Goutakolis if I had politely declined.
But I didn't. There is a certain "put your money where your mouth is" that goes along with my acceptance. Therefore I am willing to give this a try and support our new president.
He's got a tough row to hoe, to use a trite expression. After years of stagnation, it's now or never for the BBA. Either we take the next step or it becomes meaningless to continue. I will do what I can to help. Let's give this thing a push, shall we? Perhaps it is not too late to find the torrent in the stream.

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