Baseball Awards Don’t Make My Day, or Week.
Baseball award week is thankfully over. Every November that goes by I am more and more convinced that baseball awards should be abolished for the good of humanity. My twitter feed for the last few days has been so full of anger, outrage, and accusations that I felt like I was a spectator at a war crimes tribunal. From Red Sox fans ready to riot over John Farrell being passed over for AL Manager of the Year (he won a World Series, don’t you know) to the outrage over the NL CY Young and MVP votes not being unanimous, it reminded me of the last time I subbed for a Kindergarten class except with bigger words.
Oct 9, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) stretches before game five of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
See, here is the thing. These awards are decided by humans. As such, there is a large amount of subjectivity involved, therefore one would expect some non-conformity. No two humans are alike, amirite? But yet, the lack of conformity seemed to be the biggest complaint. I mean, if you want total conformity why not let computers do the selecting? For the MVP award especially there is a complete lack of any ground rules, criteria for judging, or even a general agreement on what “valuable” means. With this hodge podge of non-standards, expecting conformity is pretty unrealistic. Yet, there it was, a twitter firestorm of vitriol toward the 3 writers who audaciously had a different opinion on who the NL CY Young and MVP should be than did the rest of the baseball award hive mind. Shall the 3 be ceremoniously excommunicated from the hive and left to perish in their audaciousness? There are certainly some who think so.
My question is this. Who decided? Someone, somewhere, sometime must have decided that the “Most Valuable Player Award” should in fact be the “Best Offensive Numbers Guy on a Playoff Team Award”. So who was it? Or is this just a chicken and egg thing and no one really knows they just know that is the way it is? And my second question is, who died and put Keith Law in charge? The way he behaved over Adam Wainwright receiving one first place vote for CY Young and Yadier Molina receiving two votes for MVP, one would think he had just come down off the mountain with the Ten Commandments of Baseball and someone tripped him. I get that you don’t agree, Keith, but the sanctimonious indignation was a little much. For a little while last night I thought he might challenge Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch to a duel.
After all, the guys everyone wanted to win did win. Are there extra points for winning unanimously that I am not aware of? Even I, a card carrying member of the Evil Cardinals Fan Alliance, was neither surprised by nor bothered by the outcome of those two votes. I happen to think there is plenty that Yadier Molina brings to the table that is not measured nor recognized as important, but I get that these things are not generally accepted by the baseball masses, and perhaps never will be. I happen to like both Clayton Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen and don’t begrudge either of them their award even one iota. Happy Trails, I say.
There is something to be said for some standardization and some clear ground rules for these awards, and if MLB wanted to make some changes to help that along, I wouldn’t mind it. I also wouldn’t mind if those awards were taken out of the hands of baseball writers, and managers and coaches, and a more consistent and less subjective process take its place. But what I would welcome even more are folks not taking these votes as if the fate of the world depended on them, or as if they were some personal insult. That would go a long way to making my Novembers more peaceful.