Sunday, November 25, 2007


So much for Red Fisher's long-stated principle that a sportswriter's favourite four-letter word is fair:
"When Alex Rodriguez was named winner of the American League MVP award, he became the 20th New York Yankee to be so honoured (12 different players in all). For the record, only one Blue Jay, George Bell, ever has won an MVP." -- Toronto Sun
As a dedicated believer that newspapers and blogs can co-exist, my heart just sank reading that paragraph. Newspaper sportswriters do themselves no favours lobbing cheap shots at the hometown teams. It's also implied that the only opinions that matters are those from the people paid to give one. That attitude went out years ago.

So the Yankees have a 20-1 edge in MVPs over the Jays (whose lone win, Bell over the Tigers' Alan Trammell in 1987, was a bit of a joke)? That's relevant to the present how?

It's no wonder people turn to blogs that go a little deeper and understand the situation. Go ahead and take jabs at GM J.P. Ricciardi for clamming up about Troy Glaus, for not doing enough to upgrade the left side of their infield, for not firing John Gibbons and for not having enough left-handed hitting. That's fair.

Seventeen of the Yankees' 20 MVPs pre-date the Jays' existence. Sixteen of those came when the American League had only eight or 10 teams. (What's harder, to be MVP of an eight-team league or a 14-team one? How can you lump the two in together?)

Bell should not have won in '87. However, the Jays got jobbed in the MVP voting at least once in that era.

How about 1989? You probably remember Fred McGriff won the American League home run title and the Jays won their division. The Crime Dog led the league in on-base-plus-slugging (.924) and was the best hitter in the league across 162 games, but he ended up sixth in the balloting.

McGriff probably wasn't seen as clutch (only 92 RBI -- thanks to a lack of opportunities -- and only one post-Sept. 1 homer) and he wasn't a big name. Perhaps the Toronto writers, including the same guy slagging them today for only having one MVP, talked up George Bell to the othe writers.. He ended up fourth in the balloting.

Bell had a bunch of big hits in August and Septemember, but as someone who was 12 years old in '89, I can recall that he got on a roll right around the time Cito Gaston started batting him ahead of McGriff. It's also etched in memory that was more of a MVP buzz around Bell than McGriff in September '89.

Then there was the Dennis Eckersley debacle in '92. He was the saves king, but at the end of the day, he only threw 80 innings -- 240 outs. Roberto Alomar (pictured), accounted for 425 more outs than Eckersley did, based on his putouts and assists at second base. He was much more valuable to his team than Eck was when it came to preventing runs.

The most telling stat for Alomar as a hitter was his offensive winning percentage, .707, fifth in the league behind four corner outfield/first base/DH types who contributed little in the field. He far and away outhit anyone who was as valuable with the glove (if there even was such a player in 1992), and he was twice as good in the field as anyone who outhit him.

It was that obvious, yet Mr. Catch The Taste ended up sixth in the MVP balloting. Maybe all the voters didn't like McCain fruit punch.

Alomar's veteran teammates with the, you guessed it, triple-digit RBI totals, Joe Carter and Dave Winfield were third and fifth, splitting the Toronto support. Just picture, at a late-season series, a sportswriter with a MVP vote from another city asking the Toronto guys, "I want to vote for a Blue Jay, what do you think?" and getting the response "Carter... maybe Winfield."

So they got it wrong in 1992, and 15 years later, you have one sportswriter citing the misguided vote of other sportswriters to imply that the current Jays organization is a collectively a loser. Get it straight: It's different players, front-office people, different everything than it was in 1989, '92, or 1939 (oh, wait, the Jays didn't even exist then).

Now, is that a self-fulfilling prophecy or what? Talk about off-putting. No wonder newspapers are given less credence with each passing day.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to


Pete Toms said...

I guessed that the writer in question was Simmons before I clicked through the link. The paper ( and that's not an anti Sun comment ) and the idiotic remark added up to him. He's awful and always has been.

At least the Sun has Bob Elliot and Neate Sager!

sager said...

In fairness to Simmons, this is a busy week for him, Grey Cup and all, and he's had good stuff from there... but that comment about the Jays was uncalled for.

So the Yankees have 20 MVPs... guess what, if I was going to root for the Yankees, I wouldn't be rooting for monuments, but their current roster.

Tyler King said...

There's also 2003 when Delgado got robbed.

sager said...

Check the Win Shares, Tyler... A-Rod was a hair better than Delgado, putting up comparable numbers while playing an important defensive position, shortstop. He was the best player in the league.

Delgado was the best man, though.