As you know by now, Curt Schilling signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox. But what you may not know is that he has a clause in the deal that gives him $1 million for getting just one vote in the Cy Young Award voting.
He explained it all in in his blog.
As an officer in the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, this is very troublesome to me.
Our group votes on the major awards (MVP, Rookie, Cy Young and Manager of the Year) and it’s something 99 percent of us take seriously. But having a clause like the one Schilling has creates a mountain of ethical issues.
Every AL city gets two votes for each award. In big markets, the votes are divided up. You might get MVP one year, Manager of the Year the next. But two people who cover the Red Sox will get votes on Cy Young in 2008.
We usually learn sometime in the summer what we’re voting for. In the case of Cy Young, you vote for first, second and third. Let’s say Schilling goes 15-9 with a 3.95 ERA next season. He’s not the Cy Young, but you can make a case he deserves a third-place vote.
Your one vote gets him $1 million. What is keeping some writer from saying, “Hey, Curt, I’ll vote for you. I want $500,000.”
It’s wholly unethical. But every business has unethical people. $500,000 is serious coin for a reporter. People have gambling problems, drug problems, etc. What’s keeping Schilling from agreeing to the deal? He’s gets $500,000 he wasn’t counting on.
On the other hand, let’s say the two people with votes in Boston don’t vote for Schilling and he finds out why they are. What if he resents them and tells his teammates, “Hey, these SOBs cost me $1 million.” How are those people supposed to cover the Red Sox now?
Hopefully Major League Baseball finds a way to discourage such incentive clauses. Or maybe the BBWAA should pass a rule saying that in five years, we will deem ineligible any player who has such incentive clauses.
I’m not against incentive clauses. But tying them into voting done by reporters who cover teams is a slippery slope. It’s asking for trouble.