As I have stated numerous times in the past, I hold Cubs broadcasters Len Kapser and Jim Deshaies in very high regard. I think as far as team broadcasters go, they are the gold standard. Having said that, I have also said when I get a chance to hear a different broadcast team, I like to check it out. I hear Len and J.D. 90% of the year, so I like to get a different perspective once in awhile. I just like to hear all sides. I watch FOX News and CNN. I like to hear both sides of the issue then make my own mind up. Which is why Saturday I tuned in to the Cubs Nationals game on FS1, where the team of Kenny “Thanks Dad” Albert and A.J. Pierzynski, early front runner for douche nozzle of the century, were doing the game. The subject of the National League MVP came up, and, surprise surprise, Piersynski is dead wrong. Oh he said his pick was Javy Baez, and of course I would concur with that. It was his reasoning and philosophy on the award that rubbed me the wrong way.
First of all, it was a blowout game early, so I guess they needed something to talk about, and I get that, but it’s early August, so to crown somebody MVP now is preposterous. Freddie Freeman and Nolan Arenado were also mentioned as candidates, and I have no beef with that either. But A.J. started going into his criteria for the award, and his reasoning for being a candidate, and that’s where we part ways.
He stated the MVP should come from a winning team. I know he is not the only person to think that. Not even close to the only person. I’m probably in the minority thinking that shouldn’t matter. That’s OK. Wouldn’t be the first time. A.J. went to the argument that I can’t stand, the definition of the word “valuable” argument. How valuable can you be if your team isn’t winning? Well, I am fully in favor of changing the name of the award. Most Outstanding Player, Player of the Year, whatever you want to come up with. To me, the MVP is the guy who had the best season. I don’t care what his team did. It’s not a team award.
Piersynski then went on to say it’s easier to have a big year on a bad team. There isn’t any pressure. The guys on the contending teams have more at stake. Really A.J.? So by definition, if your team is bad, and you are having a great year, making you the one guy on the team you don’t want to let beat you, that’s easier than being in a better lineup where you get better pitches to hit because of your teammates? He also said guys on bad teams have it easier because no one is paying attention to them. Trust me, Andre Dawson got PLENTY of attention in 1987. There really was no other reason to pay attention to the Cubs at all. And ask him how easy it was to hit 49 home runs and drive in 137 on that sad sack team that finished in last place.
As I stated earlier, the term “valuable” gets taken too literally. Mike Greenberg from the old Mike and Mike show routinely held up Dawson as his example. “How valuable to your team could you have been if you finished in last place?” The Hawk hit .287, 49 home runs, and drove in 137. Yes it was clearly his fault the Cubs were bad. Also consider this. If you really want use the “valuable” term literally, then you also have to consider his value as far as selling tickets and merchandise that year. If attendance is up, then so are beer and food sales, merchandise sales, and, in the case of Wrigley Field at least, sales at surrounding bars and restaurants are up too. There is value to that. The bottom line is Dawson had the best season that year by far. There was nobody else even close.
It’s too early to seriously start talking about MVP races, but Baez is absolutely a front-running candidate. Also, analytics are now being more heavily considered, which is why Mike Trout can win it in 2016 even though his team didn’t make the playoffs. It’s why the Cy Young can go to Felix Hernandez in 2010, despite only being 13-12. These guys had the best years, and that’s how it should be. The days of dinosaurs like Piersynski only considering the guy with the most home runs on a playoff team or the pitcher with the most wins are coming to an end. Maybe Piersynski would feel different had he ever been good enough to be considered a candidate.