Sports Illustrated lists its Top 20 all-time sportscasters

Sports Illustrated put out this list of what it believes to be the Top 20 all-time sportscasters. Some of these guys are before my time, but unfortunately, most of them are not. Anyway, here is the list and a snappy comment or two, as well as who they missed and who I’m glad is not on here:

1. Jim McKay—The Bob Costas of his time. McKay hosted ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” as well as The Olympics. It’s hard to argue with putting him on top here, but it’s also easy to argue for a few of these others to be #1.

2. Vin Scully—If I hear ol’ Vin doing a game on TV, and with the MLB package it’s nice to still hear him doing Dodgers’ games, I don’t care who is playing….I stop and watch, and listen. It’s just comforting to hear the guy’s voice, which was made for broadcasting baseball.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Baseball’s Most Controversial MVP Winners

In the wake of Cardinals’ first basemen Albert Pujols winning the NL MVP Award despite his team finishing fourth in the NL Central, has ranked baseball’s most controversial MVP winners of all-time.

Dennis Eckersley#3 Dennis Eckersley, 1992, AL MVP
Eckersley, the prototype one-inning closer, pitched 80 innings on the year. Frank Thomas, with a .978 OPS, played 1424 innings for the White Sox that season. Did Eckersley contribute more to his team in those 80 innings than Thomas did in nearly 18 times as many? Or Kirby Puckett, league leader in hits and total bases and a Gold Glove centerfielder? Or teammate Mark McGwire, who had 42 homers and 104 RBIs with an OPS of .970 and won a Gold Glove as well? Closers are valuable – just ask Mets fans – but they’re disproportionately rewarded for how little they actually work.

#1 Joe DiMaggio, 1947 AL MVP
While DiMaggio’s victory over Ted Williams in 1941 is defensible, this one is not.

How do you win the league Triple Crown without also being the MVP? Were DiMaggio’s intangible contributions so much greater than Ted’s superior performance in batting, slugging, on-base, hits, doubles, home runs, runs, and RBIs?

Williams finished one single point behind DiMaggio in the voting, and one sportswriter refused even to list Williams on his ten-man ballot (though it was not a Boston sportswriter, as Williams charged in his autobiography My Turn At Bat; the man Williams named did not vote that year). Stranger still, Williams only received three first-place votes (worth 14 points each) out of twenty-four, while DiMaggio received eight, no doubt reflecting New York’s pennant-winning season and Boston’s lackluster one. Strangest of all are the two first-place votes cast for Philadelphia Athletics shortstop Eddie Joost, a good glove man who batted .206 for the season.

Boston fans probably believe that Hank Steinbrenner was in on the 1947 AL MVP scandal considering they think he runs hell itself.

For Your Consideration: Baseball’s MVP Candidates

Albert PujolsI am confident that both Dustin Pedroia and Albert Pujols had the best all-around years in their respective leagues. Based on their individual performances in the batter’s box and on the field, and considering how they contributed to their teams’ playoff chances, they each deserve to be MVP.

The voting process takes place the Friday before the regular season ends. As a result, even though guys like Derek Jeter and David Ortiz come through with jaw-dropping numbers in the post season, these figures won’t matter to the Baseball Writer’s Association of America—their minds have already been made up.

It’s the regular season that matters. Sports writers use various methods when deciding who gets their vote. Whether their basis is purely statistical or how the player individually affected his team, most can agree on one criterion: The team must have a good record. So, despite having superb seasons, Josh Hamilton and Lance Berkman probably won’t win the award. However, you could make a case for each as to why they should win, and this raises an interesting topic concerning the semantics of “Most Valuable Player.”

Much has been written about how the word “value” isn’t properly defined. Does “value” simply figure into hitting? What about defense? Or attitude in the clubhouse? All affect the performance of a team. You can already see how convoluted the decision-making process can get. Nevertheless, most baseball fans eschew statistical reasoning and data analysis, instead depending on gut instinct. In looking at the winners from the recent past, I believe the writers do as well. With this in mind, a clearly defined rule emerges: How would the team fare without the player in question?

There’s no doubt that a Texas Rangers team without Josh Hamilton would have finished with a worse record. The same goes for Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, Justin Morneau, Carlos Quentin, etc., and their respective teams. You can see where I’m going with this. Each team has a keystone player whose absence would greatly hurt their team’s record. Unfortunately, this is why it’s hard to decide who is more valuable. Ryan Howard leads the National League in homeruns and RBIs but is only decent defensively at first base. Albert Pujols’ hitting has also been tremendous; on top of that, he’ll probably win another gold glove. Both the Phillies and the Cardinals would have had drastically different seasons without these players.

But would the Cardinals have fared worse without Pujols? Or the Phillies without Howard? In my opinion, Pujols, with his combination of hitting and fielding, is more of an asset that Howard. Obviously, much of this is based on conjecture—speculating how games and standings would turn out if a certain player wasn’t involved.

This is why critics have called the MVP candidacy of CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez, and Francisco Rodriguez “preposterous” and “embarrassing.” I don’t look at it that way. Nobody expected Sabathia and Ramirez to perform they way they have after getting traded. Same goes for Rodriguez surpassing the all-time single-season saves record. Baseball is the only professional sport which gives out separate MVP awards in both leagues (including numerous other accolades). Therein lies the problem—a problem I find intriguing rather than irritating.

Francisco Rodriguez will not win the MVP, but he will be close.

Only three relief pitches have ever won the MVP (Dennis Eckersley was the last to win it in 1992). The Anaheim Angeles are a very similar team to the ’92 Athletics. Rodriguez has already tallied more saves than Eckersley (breaking Bobby Thigpen’s record of 57 in the process). Shouldn’t Rodriguez then win as well? It’s hard to say. To quote Tom Singer of

The Angels have won 55 games by one or two runs; K-Rod has saved 47 of them, and picked up the victory in two others. No one else in the league, obviously, has directly affected as many team wins. By definition, no one else has been as valuable.

He makes a valid point, but I just don’t see it happening. History has shown the voting to be extremely prejudiced against pitchers. Of course, there is the Cy Young Award which recognizes their accomplishments. However, there’s also the batting title, gold gloves, and the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award. Rodriguez is definitely the most valuable player on the Angels. Still, I think the Red Sox would be worse for the wear without Pedroia.

CC Sabathia. You just can’t.

Chew on this: No player has won an MVP Award in a season in which he was traded. After leaving Cleveland for the Cubs, Rick Sutcliffe still managed to win the Cy Young, going 16-1 with his new team. Sabathia will have played in about 12 games with the Brewers. Even though he has helped Milwaukee’s playoff hopes, his time there produces too small a sample to even predict what might have happened. Also, his overall record, which includes his starts with the Indians, does not stand up to Brandon Webb’s of the Diamondbacks.

Manny Ramirez is the National League MVP.

No way. Not this year, and not next year since I don’t see him resigning with the Dodgers (or any NL team). Given a full year with Los Angeles, he would have won, hands down. He’s singlehandedly turned the Dodgers into a playoff team and I believe that merits the MVP votes he will garner. It just wouldn’t be right to give Ramirez the award after playing in only 52 games (maybe something else, like a bulky contract, will suffice). He’s played above average in left field and he’s hitting better than anyone in the league. What’s most important, however, is that he makes his teammates happier and more productive. Without Ramirez, the Dodgers might have fallen behind the Rockies in their division. His arrival has brought a sea change to their organization. This alone should qualify Ramirez for the MVP. Still, as with Sabathia, this sample is just too inconclusive. We’ve seen what Pujols can do in a full year on one team, and in one league.

Perhaps the Most Valuable Player Award should change its name to the Best Position Player Award. That way, both pitchers and the hitters have their own accolade. Until “value” becomes easier to define, and doesn’t steer conversations into “what if” territories, then we should welcome the preposterous and the embarrassing. It’s fun to flirt with the idea of a closer or a late arrival receiving the coveted honor, but the discussion is for the birds. When it’s all said and done, traditional thought will prevail.

Related Posts