The NL MVP race is heating up and Ryan Braun looks like he should be the favorite, but he's not because, well, you know. Tyler Maas already chimed in on this over at the AV Club. Now, we asked a very famous and prestigious sportswriter from CBS/ESPN/Fox/USA Today to add his two cents to the argument. Here is what he says.
A little boy walked up to me the other day. He was straight out of a Hallmark card. Baseball glove, backwards hat and one of those t-shirt jerseys of his favorite baseball player, Buster Posey, that hung just a bit too loose on the young man. His dad recognized me from the paper, he thanked me for my years of excellent work (you were too kind) and introduced me to his young son Jonny. The boy looked at me, eyes full of wonder and a future so bright it nearly blinded me, and asked "Mistah Sportswritah sir, is Bustah gonna win the MVP?" I patted the young boy on the head and said "He has my vote, son."
This is what the 2012 NL MVP race is all about. Children's favorite baseball player's winning baseball's most prestigious award. If I had it in me I'd vote for Chipper Jones because of all he's done for Major League Baseball in his career. Or maybe I'd vote for Bryce Harper who has taken the Nationals from an also-ran to a World Series favorite. Sure, their numbers don't look as good as Buster's, but their hard work and determination display the kind of qualities you would like to see in every young man. They aren't ghetto thugs who only play baseball in between getting tattoos. They are heroes who kids love and look up to. Just like I looked up to Johnny Bench and hated Reggie Jackson, these kids look up to Buster Posey and hate all the me-first, money grabbing homerun hitters of today.
Okay time to come clean on something. I voted for Barry Bond and I voted for Mark McGwire. I might have even sent out a Christmas card of Mark McGwire and I standing near home plate at Busch Stadium the year he hit all those homeruns. That sure didn't make my wife happy. So unhappy that she left me, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. A lot of things did. It was a different time then. I was young (45) and I didn't know any better. Seeing these great heroes, these Greek Gods in baseball form play the way that those guys did it was hard not to get swept up in it. Back then it was all about stats and numbers. Role models be damned. It was a very hedonistic time in baseball's history and some of it's darkest days.
When we found out the truth about those guys it was tough, but it allowed us into this age of enlightenment. You see, numbers are no longer what's important. Sure, they help. Matt Holiday's 27 dingers and 96 RBIs are impressive, but you take one look at that team and you know that it's Yadier Molina's team. He is their emotional core, their hero and their MVP. Take Yadi away and you have the Houston Astros. Just stating the facts, but that's what matters. The MVP is about more than who has the best batting average or who has the most RBIs. They are about the intangibles and winning. Before I vote for the MVP I ask myself four questions:
- Did this guy's team make the playoffs? (most important)
- Is this guy a stand-up guy? (most important)
- Will I at any point in my career regret this vote? (most important)
- Is this guy a hero to little kids? (most important)
It's not a perfect science. For example I got it wrong last year when I voted for Ryan Braun. He seemed to meet all the criteria and then some, but after a few months we all learned the awful truth about Ryan Braun. He was a cheater and he let down America's youth. I wouldn't want my son watching him, even if he did talk to me. He didn't end up getting suspended, but it was true. That's how things work in this country. I've never regretted a vote more in my entire life and that includes the time I tried to write Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame while he was still playing. I regret that vote more than my ex-wife regrets marrying me. (Sorry, Ethel.) I'd love to put an asterisk on that vote and that award because Ryan Braun let me down and he also let down a nation of children. I will never vote for Ryan Braun again and neither will most of my sportswriter friends. It doesn't matter how many home runs he hits.
Not when there are guys like Buster Posey out there. In my mind he is the hands down MVP. David Wright? Great hitter, but he is clearly unable to carry his team to wins. Not a winner. Andrew McCutcheon? Definitely a "dark horse," but he's a bit too "street" for me. Matt Holiday? He's not Yadier Molina. Yadier Molina? He's not Buster Posey. And he's Mexican. Or Puerto Rican. Whatever.
Buster Posey is baseball's white knight and we are blessed to have him in our game. Unlike the Sosa's and Bonds' of years past he isn't a false idol. He is a true Greek God worthy of our worship and if I have anything to say about it he is the 2012 National League MVP. This votes for you, little Jonny!