Posted by Ricky West
This will be my final post as the Crank is returning from his much
deserved vacation. I want to thank him for allowing me this opportunity to
reach a new audience and reignite the vigor for political debate that I’d lost a
few months back when I went into virtual hibernation. I’m truly not worthy. To all who felt like looking me up on google & pummeling me: I truly enjoyed it, it was a blast, and I wish you all the best….don’t take this politics stuff too seriously. Oh, and I was right and you were wrong. 🙂
The year 2002 gave us Miguel Tejada as the AL’s MVP. In 2006-2007, the
NBA gave us Dirk Nowitzki as its league’s MVP. To me, both decisions were
ludicrous and simply reinforced the oft-held notion that sportswriters are lazy
and simply vote for the best players on the best teams.
gave his arguments against Tejada almost 6 years ago, before the award was
The usual argument, then, erupts over whether you can give the award to
Rodriguez, who played for a last place team, as opposed to Thome – no,
scratch that, as opposed to Giambi or Miguel Tejada, both of whose teams
made the playoffs, despite the obvious fact that neither of them was the
best player in the league at his position. Some people have also mentioned
Soriano as a candidate, but while Soriano was clearly among the top 10
players in the league, he wasn’t on the same elite level as the others
offensively (because he was just a point above the league on base
percentage) and didn’t compensate with especially dazzling glove work (Soriano
is no better than, at his best, an average defensive second baseman, and
probably less than that).
as Mel Antonen of USAToday notes, it’s often the players who prefer to
look at the numbers and the writers who go with the argument that
"intangibles" that make "winners" are an important factor.)
An argument can most certainly be made against giving an award to the person
who simply had the best numbers. NFL teams with horrific defenses often
have quarterbacks who throw for more than 4,000 yards simply because they’re
always playing from behind, for example. I agree that it would be a bad
precedent for adopting the practice of simply awarding personal achievement that
may come at team expense. Then again, if you just look at the top teams
and eliminate the players that have the misfortune to be surrounded by
excellence that the front office acquired, you can end up with laughable
decisions like giving the esteemed Bill Russell the MVP during the season when
Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points and 27 rebounds. And, before anyone
retorts that Wilt simply shot it every time he got it that season, keep in mind
that he was 3rd in the league in FG percentage that season. I’m sorry, when
someone has the greatest offensive season in league history, the greatest
rebounding season in league history and is the 3rd most efficient field goal
shooter, they’re the MVP. It wasn’t Wilt’s fault that Russell was
surrounded by 8 future hall-of-famers (not taking anything from Russell, the
greatest winner in sports history…he just wasn’t as good as Wilt, period).
Or, Joe Dimaggio winning the MVP when Ted Williams is the triple crown winner.
In the case of A-Rod & 2002, you had Rodriguez having arguably the greatest
offensive season for any shortstop in major league history:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB HBP 162 624 125 187 27 2 57 142 9 87 .300 .392 .623 1015 389 10
And, for anyone who says that it was just a case of
Rodriguez putting up offensive numbers, he also won the gold glove that season.
So, you had a player who was not only the best offensive shortstop that season
(he was the best offensive player in baseball) but he was the best defensive
shortstop that season. Who got the MVP? Another shortstop. One
who wasn’t as good offensively or defensively. Yes, clutch hits and
intangibles are huge, but they don’t erase the sheer dominance that A-Rod
displayed that season.
Likewise, let’s consider the case of Dirk Nowitzki.
Truly, the best player on the best team in the NBA that season. Yes, he
faded in the playoffs, but the voting occurs before the playoffs. Let’s
ignore Kobe Bryant’s statistical dominance over Nowitzki, substantial as it is.
It’s quite simple: Kobe Bryant was the scoring champion that season. Kobe
Bryant was 1st team all-defense (Marcus Camby was the defensive player of the
year). Much like A-Rod winning the gold glove, Kobe Bryant was the best
defensive player at his position. Dirk Nowitzki, on the other hand, was
neither the best offensive nor defensive player at his position. Nowitzki
wasn’t among the top 4 defensive players on his own team, by the way.
Again, you have the best offensive player in the league and best defender at his
position being denied simply because he played on the ‘wrong’ team. With
the passage of time, we know that Bryant wasn’t the cause of the Lakers’
mediocrity last season, but rather it was the rest of the team getting
better as they made the NBA finals this year*.
Summation: No, don’t give out the top awards to the guys
who put up the best numbers. However, you don’t ignore those who are
obviously the best and most valuable in the league simply because their
teammates aren’t quite up to par with the top franchises. Or, in the case
of Wilt & Teddy Ballgame, the sportswriters hate you.
Thanks, again, Crank!
*Note: I most certainly do not bring Kobe Bryant into
the discussion because I’m a Laker fan or Bryant fan. Currently, the NBA
player I dislike the most is Kobe Bryant. Thus, this is purely an argument based
on the merits, not the personalities.
Finally, note to self: Something you believe + the words “Rush” and “Limbaugh” pasted at the top = blog comments gold!