In an interesting development the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted to restrict eligibility for its awards to players who do not receive compensation for winning the award. The straw that apparently broke the camel's back was a clause in Curt Schilling's contract that would pay him $1M for receiving any Cy Young vote at all. Joe Posnanski had an interesting take on all this several weeks ago that you can read at his blog.
The response seems a little overblown from my perspective. After all, a team that allows such a ridiculous clause to exist surely understands the risk they take. In the case of a player of Schilling's calibre it would seem as if the team is already resigned to paying the incentive. Given the voting record of the BBWAA I would never be surprised if any individual player received a vote. And although incentives create temptation for writers and players alike, it doesn't seem to be of a different animal than that for a writer tossing a vote to a player in order to get on his good side and therefore be first in line for that next big scoop. In the end, if a writer were to receive a kick-back and it became public knowledge, the career-ending nature of the event would serve as an excellent way to naturally curb that kind of behavior. In general I liked Joe's piece but when discussing why he would no longer be allowed to vote if incentives like Schilling's proliferated he said:
The reason is obvious: I could not vote on something where my signature may or may not earn Curt Schilling $1 million. That's not just a conflict of interest, that's a skirmish of interest, a police action of interest, a full-fledged war of interest.
Really? That seems strange since we all know that winners of these awards end up earning more in terms of arbitration awards, via free agency, and perhaps even endorsements. So while the connection is certainly not as direct, the concept is the same and I'm sure this fact is not lost on the writers. If media outlets are concerned about a conflict of interest then of course the awards should be scrapped altogether.