Wednesday, December 26, 2007


A strained oblique and some strained intellects — not to mention pitching for the terrible Baltimore Orioles — are helping kill Erik Bedard's profile in this country.

What does it say that the pride of Navan, Ont., east of Ottawa, did not finish in the top three in voting for The Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year Award that was announced earlier today? The top baseball player in the balloting was another left-handed pitcher, Jeff Francis of the Colorado Rockies, even though Bédard had a far better season. 

Bédard was among the major-league leaders in the most important stat for a pitcher, earned-run average (3.16, a full run per game lower than Francis). He led both leagues in strikeouts per nine innings and gave up the fewest hits per nine innings in the AL. He authored one of the best-pitched games in the majors in 2007 on July 7 when he faced the minimum 27 hitters, striking out 15 and walking none, in a two-hit shutout against the Texas Rangers. His year wasn't as good as Steve Nash's or Sidney Crosby's, but it was better than any other Canadian ballplayer's. Somehow, though, Francis ends up third.

To some of the sports eds. who vote for the award, Francis "winning" 17 games and starting Game 1 of the World Series, when casual interest in baseball peaks, is important. Bédard's brilliant season, not to mention the fact he did better in in American League Cy Young Award balloting (fifth) than Francis (ninth) in the weaker National League, doesn't matter.

Hey, it's not like the Kenora Daily Miner should start basing hirings on who's the biggest baseball geek. The point is Bédard just has a lot of strikes against him when it comes to having a higher profile in Canada. He is a small-town guy, not overly quotable in either of his two languages. He isn't talked up much about the national media since he's on a low-profile team, and the Québec media probably passes him over since he's from Ontario. 

In 2007, he just had a hard row to hoe when it came to getting the media in his home and native land to appreciate that he's one hell of a pitcher.


Pete Toms said...

I don't get it. What about him?

Pete Toms said...

Ok, now I get it. When I looked at your blog 15 minutes ago the link read, what about Bédard - or somethin like that - without any context.

It's Canada, we aren't ball fans. How about Russell Martin? Where did he finish?

I've also read about Bédard that he is very media shy. Isn't that the unassuming Canadian way?

Tyler King said...

It's a good analysis - Francis gets mucho bonus points because of the WS berth and the increased media attention that comes with it, plus he's been much more into playing along with the whole Canadian media angle they thrust on any decent Canuck baseball player. It's a bit of a moot point this year since he never would've or should've beaten out Crosby or Nash, but once he starts becoming a perennial Cy contender (which isn't far off barring disaster) they'd better start taking notice.