September 10, 2006

I’m Back. And My Doctor Has Cleared Me To Hit Off A Tee.

I caught today’s Yankee game on the radio while driving down from the Cape. According to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, the Orioles rookie starter, Hayden Penn, is just 21 and entered the game with a major league ERA, this season, of 108. That’s right: 108. The Yankees won.

Meanwhile, the days are getting shorter and the kids are back in school, which means it must be time for incessant debate about this year’s MVPs. I’d like to join in, but the MVP strikes me as a particularly ill-defined award. The Cy Young goes to the best pitcher: simple enough, even if opinions will vary on who it is in a given year. But what exactly do we mean by most valuable player? If it were just the best hitter, that would be one thing (probably Travis Hafner or Manny Ramirez in the AL this year); but pitchers are eligible too, and “valuable” seems to imply the player who helped his team the most – which is why most sportswriters/ESPN drones don’t seem to think Hafner stands a snowflake’s chance in Hell, with the Indians currently 17 games back. (Why Ramirez has barely been so much as mentioned, even when the Sox were going strong, is more puzzling to me… unless it’s because of all his trade requests and other antics, which seems petty. If the Sox ever do trade Manny, I think his precise value will become clear very, very quickly).

Just when you think team success needs to be taken into account, though, you remember that the Yankees’ third baseman won the MVP in 2003 with his team, then the Rangers, in dead last place. If your team does that badly, how valuable can you really be? Or, rather, does it actually matter that your team is 17 games out instead of 27? I’m having a surprising amount of trouble finding the official guidelines for this award, but I’ll investigate further tomorrow and see if they shed any light. In any case, it looks like the AL MVP will probably go to Derek Jeter or Jermaine Dye -- who are both having great years, whether or not they deserve this particular accolade, so I can’t get too worked up about the injustice.

Personally, my vote would have gone to Giambi’s mustache, but I don’t think it has enough at-bats to qualify. My second choice, though, would be Johan Santana, who has been mind-bogglingly awesome all season.

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