Let me first begin by saying welcome back.
A lot has happened in the world of sports since we last spoke. Lockouts were activated; one was lifted. Serena had another meltdown at the U.S. Open. The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship, which has only validated all of Mark Cuban’s decisions up to this point.
But enough with the past, let us focus on the present and in particular one debate that has been driving me up the wall. In future articles, I will feature a counterpoint section, in which one of my friends, colleagues or some random stranger off the street will provide the opposite side of the argument for my column.
This week, I found that to be useless, because there is no other side to this argument. This isn’t an argument; it’s a truth.
Justin Verlander, pitcher extraordinaire for the Detroit Tigers, is not, in any way, shape or form, a candidate for the most valuable player in the American League.
Now, statisticians and people who believe pitching is close to godliness may argue that he is having the greatest season of all the players who have played baseball in 2011, and that may be true. His numbers speak for themselves: 2.36 ERA (earned run average), 238 strikeouts in 236 innings pitched, .192 BAA (batting average against), 23 wins to only five loses, and a 7.2 WAR (wins above replacement). He has been the most dominating pitcher in aseball this year.
That is the very reason why he is not the MVP: he is a pitcher. He plays in a fifth of all games.
Sure, he wins pretty much every start he makes, but we already have an award for that type of player. It is called the Cy Young, and it goes to the best pitcher in each league.
If one were to look at the most accepted definition of the MVP award, it would probably be an award for the player that, for any given year, is the least replaceable player on a winning team. In that definition, Verlander would surely fit.
But being the best player on the Detroit Tigers is like being the all-star of a high school JV team. And (if you don’t think the Yankees are a prime example of this, then you just don’t watch baseball), a team can win without spectacular pitching.
Sure, Detroit may not win their division without Verlander, but it has been easily overlooked that the Tigers are in the top five in most offensive categories, statistically speaking.
Verlander is the supporting cast, not the lead role. Sure, Heath Ledger was the best actor in “The Dark Knight,” but you didn’t see him winning the Oscar for playing the lead. Verlander is the best of the players who play 35 games a year. He has compiled one of the best seasons pitching of this millennium, and he is a shoo-in for the Cy Young. But you can’t give the MVP to the supporting cast.
–Long-time Texas football assistant Cleve Bryant was fired after being accused of sexual harassment following an investigation. Apparently, Cleve physically and verbally harassed several female employees over the course of two years, including text messages and inappropriate touching. Upon hearing the news, Brett Farve immediately submitted an application for the vacancy.
–The NBA lockout may be the first time in sports history that a sport realizes its own irrelevance. There would be more urgency to start the season on-time if people actually watched NBA basketball before the Super Bowl was over. Sports that should follow this trend: golf should limit all tournaments to one day or should only televise the last round, poker should have only the final table, and NASCAR should… nope NASCAR can’t be fixed.