Anytime a ballplayer starts arguing his own case for a major award, it means just one thing: He doesn’t think he’s going to win it.
That’s certainly the case with the Boston Red Sox's David “Big Papi” Ortiz, who spent time Sunday presenting his AL MVP portfolio to ESPN. Everything he said is pretty much right on. He confessed to having the best offensive season in the American League and to be deserving of the award. If he doesn’t get it, he went on, three other very worthy candidates would be Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko of the Chicago White sox and Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins. Then he conceded that Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees would probably win it.
But the point he wanted to make clear was that he, the most feared clutch bopper in the league, should get the trophy, even though the Red Sox aren’t going to be playing anything but golf in October.
I’ll try to ignore how unbecoming it is of a man with the dignity and integrity of Ortiz, who is one of the most respected players in baseball, to be putting himself in position to be seen as putting down other players to advance his desire to get a personal trophy in a team sport. He bent over backwards trying to say that Jeter is a terrific player, but his message was unequivocal: “I’m better.”
It smacks of sour grapes and it brings no honor on either him or his team.
He’s been around long enough to know that the more a player grouses, the lower his stock falls in the eyes of the writers who vote for baseball’s postseason awards. Also, the more fans of teams other than his own are likely to view him — in this case unfairly — as a jerk.
Papi was my choice for MVP last year, when he carried the Red Sox into the playoffs and was what he is this year — the best clutch hitter in the game.
Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees collected the hardware instead, despite the certain knowledge among Yankees fans that, despite a statistically terrific year, he wasn’t even the MVP of his own team. It was A-Rod’s second MVP; he won the first when he had another terrific year for the last-place Texas Rangers.
In my book, to be MVP, you have to be the most important player on a team that wins something, or, at a minimum, comes within a whisker of winning. I would never have given the award to Ernie Banks when he played for the pathetic Chicago Cubs, if that’s not redundant. I wouldn’t have given it to A-Rod when he played for the Rangers, either. The award isn’t for the best offensive player in the game. It’s for the most valuable player, which is why pitchers get to win it now and then.
DPS: MLB executive Joe Torre talks to Dan Patrick about instant replay in baseball. Torre says that the game isn't perfect, but there are limits as to what instant replay should be used for. He draws the line at using it for balls and strikes.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.