Boston Red Sox

Can we now retroactively give Pedro Martinez his MVP award?


Justin Verlander’s deserved MVP nod on Monday ended an 18-year drought in which only position players had been awarded the game’s ultimate single-season honor. No pitcher had won an MVP award since A’s closer Dennis Eckersley in 1992. No starter had won since Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986.

Now that the BBWAA is again showing a willingness to vote for pitchers — at least if no position player on a first-place team truly stands out — let’s correct a couple of wrongs from the last 20 years.

– Roger Clemens – 1997 Blue Jays

Clemens went 21-7, led the AL in ERA at 2.05, strikeouts with 292, innings pitched with 264 and complete games with nine, yet he finished a mere 10th in the MVP balloting. Randy Myers, who pitched 59 2/3 innings with a WHIP worse than Clemens’, came in fourth. At least the voters did pick the right position player this year, as Ken Griffey Jr. got the nod.

– Pedro Martinez – 1999 Red Sox

After finishing 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts, Martinez got eight first-place votes, but he was also left off a couple of ballots and finished second in the balloting to Ivan Rodriguez, who was probably the league’s fourth or fifth best position player. Martinez was even better the following year in 2000, when he went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA, but he came in fifth that year.

– Greg Maddux – 1995 Braves

In the 144-game strike-shortened season, Maddux was a remarkable 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP in 209 2/3 innings. All of those marks led the NL, of course, and Maddux was pretty obviously the league’s most valuable player. Still, he finished third behind Barry Larkin and Coors Field-aided Dante Bichette in the balloting.

– Johan Santana – 2004 Twins

The American League in 2004 had five guys drive in at least 120 runs. Not coincidentally, those five guys finished first-through-fifth in the MVP voting. Santana was sixth after going 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. There was a case for actual winner Vladimir Guerrero over him, but Santana should have finished second at worst.

Theo Epstein on sportswriters: “The life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself…”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 07:  Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein stands on the field during batting practice before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on October 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rick Morissey of the Chicago Sun-Times published an article on Sunday giving a bit of insight into Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. When Epsten was younger, he dabbled in sportswriting, but quickly realized the trade wasn’t for him.

As Morissey details, when Epstein was 19 years old writing for Yale’s student newspaper, he wrote an article suggesting the school’s football coach should be fired during what would become a 3-7 season. Epstein was told during the meeting that one writer would defend the coach and one would call for his job. “It was a lesson in the way that the world of journalism sometimes works. It was an eye-opener for me. I regret it, and I’ve happily moved on.”

Epstein continued, “I realized I didn’t want to be a sportswriter when I was interning with the Orioles back in ’92, ’93, ’94. I did do a lot of media-relations stuff, and I saw that the life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself in the press box, go back to the hotel bar. Not to generalize.” He added, “But I really respect writing and respect sportswriters.”

He’s not wrong, and he seems to have found his calling as a front office executive. His Cubs are back in the World Series for the first time since 1945.

Jason Kipnis injured his ankle celebrating the pennant with Francisco Lindor

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 17:  Jose Ramirez #11, Francisco Lindor #12, Jason Kipnis #22 and Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays with a score of 4 to 2 in game three of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tweeted on Sunday, “Got a little too close to [Francisco Lindor] during the celebration!! Freak accident but should be good to go by Tuesday! #cantkeepmeoutofthisgame!”

Per’s Jordan Bastian, manager Terry Francona said Kipnis is dealing with a low ankle sprain, but he’s expected to be ready to go when the World Series begins on Tuesday. Kipnis went through fielding drills on Sunday.

Kipnis is hitting .167/.219/.367 with a pair of homers and four RBI in eight games this postseason.