23 September 2002

Blew Royster Kult

I have predicted a few times now that very soon, there will be a new Single-Season Strikeout King, though not taking Nolan Ryan's record, but Bobby Bonds'. Well, the Brewers' manager apparently is, as I have said before, less interested in winning than he is in public relations, though he's not very good at that either, it seems. He has apparently chosen to sit Jose Hernandez for the rest of the team's homestand, so that the Poor Wittle Miwionaire ShortStop won't have to get "cheered" towards Inneptitude Immortality by his own "fans". I am sure that public sentiment would much rather have the record set in Milwaukee, if possible, and it is foolish to "punish" what few fans the Brewers actually draw for simply doing what anyone's fans might have done: cheer when they might get a chance to see something special. Hernandez escaped tonights game against the Astros with no K's.

Nothing Left for Pedro

Pedro Martinez won his 20th game of the season yesterday, making him 20-4 and leading the AL in ERA at 2.26 and strikeouts, despite never having faced Jose Hernandez, with 239, and also despite not having pitched 200 innings. If he wins the Cy Young, and it's not as much of a lock as you might think, he'd be the first starter to win the award in a non-strike season without pitching 200 innings since...well, ever. I think. Actually, Mike Marshall threw more innings (208.3) in relief in 1974, when he won the Cy Young, than Pedro has thrown as a starter this year (199.3). Also, the Red Sox are out of contention, and lets face it folks, have been since August, so the fact that Barry Zito has been this good in a pennant/Wild Card race will count for more with the voters. Even though Pedro's ERA is half a run lower, even though he's got fifty more K's than Clemens or Zito or anyone else, even though he's got a lower opponent batting average, or has allowed only 13 homers to Zito's 23, has a higher SNWAR, or a better WKRP or whatever, he still may not win the Award, for three main reasons:

1) The BBWAA writers don't like to set precedents. (Of course, they ignore this tendency whenever there is an opportunity to vote for someone who has gaudy but misleading statistics.) They don't like to not vote for someone when they set some kind of important record, provided that they play for a contender (sorry Big Mac, A-Rod) and aren't a jerk (we're so sorry, Uncle Albert). They don't want the attention drawn to them saying that "This is the first time that (insert type of player) has ever (insert haphazardly accumulated, largely irrelevant statistical criteria)! And he did it in the thick of a (insert playoff race type)! He must be the (insert award)!" Cases in point:

1999: Ivan Rodriguez becomes first Catcher to hit .300/30/100 AND steal 25 bases, and is therefore voted AL MVP. This happens despite the facts that his 12 times caught stealing actually make his efforts at pilfering bases negligible at best, and that his .352 OBP was about 40th in the league, and that Mike Piazza had just two years earlier had the best hitting season by a catcher EVER, but was not voted MVP. That same year, Mike Lieberthal had an identical OPS to I-Rod, but less gaudy counting stats, and won the Gold Glove, but garnered no MVP support at all.

2) The BBWAA writers like Wins and RBI. This is why Bob Welch, John Smoltz and Roger Clemens have Cy Young Awards for 1990, 1997 and 2001 instead of Roger Clemens, Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina, respectively. This is also why Juan "I Can't Play Today, I Have Halitosis" Gonzalez has two MVP's.

3) The Boston writers will be split, because Derek Lowe is also having a great season. In 1996, when A-Rod had his breakout season and Griffey put up crazy numbers, the Seattle voters split their votes. If the guys who see them most and know them best can't agree on one of the two, how can we expect the rest of them to decide?

Two things are certain: It will be a close race, down to the wire, between three qualified candidates, and...

...the writers will find a way to screw it up anyway. Just like the MVP.

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