I wish you could have been with me in St. Louis Monday to listen to the sportstalk radio reaction to Barry Bonds winning the National League Most Valuable Player award, and not one of the trio of Cardinals in "contention," Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen.
I don't know how you all would have fit in my car, but we'd have worked something out.
It was pretty funny listening to the echo chamber of outrage as Cardinals fans, including the various hosts, agreed with each other that something was very, very wrong when Bonds could not only win, but by so much. Bonds got 24 of 32 first-place votes, with Adrian Beltre of the Dodgers collecting six, and Pujols and Rolen getting one each.
A somewhat reasonable argument can be made that Bonds shouldn't get any awards while a cloud of suspicion regarding steroids hangs over him, but this argument wasn't made. The subject was on-field performance, and not a word was mentioned about Bonds having one of the greatest offensive seasons in history. It was first-class comedy.
There was a lot of talk about how if Bonds can win the MVP while playing for a non-playoff team, Mark McGwire should retroactively get the '98 award, because that was the ostensible argument for his losing out to Sammy Sosa of the Cubs. I remember that year's MVP as a kind of consolation prize to Sosa for losing the home run derby, but whatever. I'll stipulate the point.
Cards fans should be careful with this argument, though, because the world didn't begin in 1998, and four Cardinals have won or shared an MVP award in a year St. Louis didn't make the postseason. And almost every other team has guys who might have won but didn't because the team finished out of the money. How many MVP awards do you think Willie Mays should have won with the Giants? A half dozen? He won two.
The echo chamber had convinced itself that Rolen was the real MVP, which is funny because not only was Rolen not the best player in the league, he wasn't even the best third baseman in the N.L. playoffs. He was ninth on my highly theoretical ballot, which means he had a very good year, but not an MVP year.
You can get a feel for the discussion at this bulletin board thread on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Web site, except that there are people in the thread making the case for Bonds.
I've already made my case for Bonds, which is so obvious that I really find it hard to believe a quarter of the people charged with voting for the MVP had the gall to vote for someone else. I wonder what season they were watching, and what color the sky is in their world.
Here's the rest of my ballot, which counts for nothing, and which I put almost no thought into because I don't think it matters who's second through 10th in a one-horse race:
2. Albert Pujols, Cardinals
3. Adrian Beltre, Dodgers
4. Jim Edmonds, Cardinals
5. Todd Helton, Rockies
6. Bobby Abreu, Phillies
7. Mark Loretta, Padres
8. Lance Berkman, Astros
9. Scott Rolen, Cardinals
10. J.D. Drew, Braves
Abreu, by the way, finished in a five-way tie for 23rd with, among others, Armando Benitez and Vinnie Castilla. That's almost as bad as Bonds not winning unanimously. Helton, who has finished in the top 10 three of the last four years, was tied for 16th with Juan Pierre(!), despite his stats for once not being wildly inflated by Coors Field. He hit well on the road too.
Must not have shown up in the voters' tea leaves.
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McNabb's latest -- and greatest? [PERMALINK]
After the Eagles demolishing of the Cowboys on "Monday Night Football," I switched over to ESPN, where I was greeted by one of the "SportsCenter" anchors welcoming those of us just switching over from the football game.
Anyway, the ESPN boys went into a long riff about Donovan McNabb's 14-second scramble that resulted in a 60-yard completion to Freddie Mitchell, calling it the signature play of his career, the one that will be playing on an endless reel in the Hall of Fame someday.
Well, maybe, but only if he makes the Hall of Fame, and only if he doesn't make a nice play next week.
Doesn't anybody remember McNabb's mad scramble that resulted in a touchdown pass to Todd Pinkston against the Packers last year -- in the playoffs? I guess not. What everyone remembers from that game is McNabb's fourth-and-26 completion to Mitchell. But I think a great scramble that results in a TD in a playoff win ranks a little higher than a great scramble that results in a long gain in a not-very-meaningful regular-season blowout, even if it does happen on Monday night.
But then, I'm not a curator in Canton.
Say, has anyone asked Rush Limbaugh lately what he thinks of Donovan McNabb?
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Hobbyhorse check: College football [PERMALINK]
Let's see how the top 25 are faring.
You'll remember I argued earlier in the fall that college football is a dull sport to follow as a whole -- though individual games and rooting for any particular team are both very fun -- because it's so dominated by a small cast of usual suspects. I wrote that a minimum acceptable level of competitiveness would be seven or eight losses being routine among the top 25 teams each week, and was assured by a few college grid fans that as the season progressed, that's what I'd get.
Well, almost, but not quite.
Last weekend the top 25 teams went 18-5, including three games in which ranked teams played each other. It was the second straight five-loss week for the top 25, following seven losses two weeks ago.
For the season, teams in the Associated Press top 25 at kickoff have gone 187-50, a .789 winning percentage. When ranked teams have played unranked ones -- a group that makes up almost 80 percent of Division I-A -- they have gone 162-25, an .866 winning percentage, hardly competitive.
So, not much drama there. The drama comes when top-25 teams play each other, which has happened all of 25 times this year. There just isn't a lot of suspense in college football.
But that's OK because college football's about to get really interesting as the season winds down with three undefeated teams at the top of the Bowl Championship Series standings, USC, Oklahoma and Auburn. If all three win out, which is likely though certainly not a sure thing, then we'll have yet another year in which the BCS -- supposedly but not actually created to crown an uncontroversial national champion -- will have failed miserably.
How can you not love that?
Previous column: Forbes on the NHL
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