Matt Kemp AP

Common sense prevails: the BBWAA will not be stripping Ryan Braun’s 2011 MVP award

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There was a time in late 2011-early 2012 when several baseball writers were arguing that the Baseball Writers Association of America should re-vote the NL MVP award in light of Ryan Braun’s positive drug test. That idea was fraught will all manner of problems and was never seriously considered by the BBWAA.

But the meme is back again in light of the Ryan Braun suspension. Some reporters asked Matt Kemp — the 2011 NL MVP runner up — about it yesterday. Several people on Twitter are chatting about it. Talk radio.  It’s apparently the topic du jour over at that awful Skip Bayless-Stephen A. Smith yakfest on ESPN:

 

Thankfully, however, the BBWAA itself is not going to entertain it. Yesterday the organization’s secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell put the kibosh on it, saying ”the decision was already made. He won it.” Which makes sense, because you simply can’t undo history like that.

Stripping awards after the fact is idiotic. Mostly because, in most cases, you have no better idea that the man you would give the award to the second time around was clean himself. We went through this four years ago when Rick Reilly wrote a really dumb column in which he argued for re-awarding of MVP and Cy Young awards from the 1990s and early 2000s to whom he felt was more deserving. He argued that Mike Piazza should now be the 1996 NL MVP instead of Ken Caminiti. I wonder what the Hall of Fame voters who kept Piazza out on unwarranted drug suspicions think of that now. The AL was even more ridiculous. The winner: Juan Gonzalez. Yes, he’s out of course. The runner up: Alex Rodriguez. Third place: Albert Belle. Hurm.

But if you are re-awarding people, you kind of have to go all the way, don’t you? Strip Barry Bonds of his MVPs and Roger Clemens of his Cy Youngs? I presume many would say not to go back that far because it was a different era with greater uncertainty and a more fluid ethical code in the game. Never mind that these issues don’t stand in the way of people strongly opposing Bonds and Clemens’ Hall of Fame candidacies.

The upshot: history is history. We live in the present and plan for the future. But we can’t change the past and shouldn’t try. It’s too hard and accomplishes nothing. Well, apart from a giving the one doing the re-awarding a momentary sense of self-righteousness.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 16: Starting pitcher J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Did you know J.A. Happ is in the thick of the American League Cy Young Award race? Of all the contenders, he may be the biggest surprise, even ahead of Drew Pomeranz. Happ leads the league with 17 wins and only has three losses to go with it. He’s holding a 3.05 ERA and a 133/44 K/BB ratio in 150 1/3 innings.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Happ was struggling to stay in a starting rotation. In 2011, his first full season with the Astros, he finished with a 5.35 ERA. In 2012, he put up a 4.79 ERA with the ‘stros and Blue Jays. The next year? 4.56 followed by 4.22, both with the Jays. Then, with the Mariners, he continued the mediocrity with a 4.64 ERA before he was traded to the Pirates.

Under the tutelage of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Happ turned his career around. In 11 starts in Pittsburgh, the lefty had a microscopic 1.85 ERA. That came with significant improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. Even the ERA retrodictors like FIP and xFIP, which had so often agreed with his uninspiring ERA’s, agreed that he had thrown like an elite hurler. So that’s how we arrived at J.A. Happ, Cy Young Award contender.

Among AL starters, Happ is fifth-best in ERA behind Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Aaron Sanchez, and Steven Wright. However, his 17-3 record is equaled only by Rick Porcello. As there are still a significant number of voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America who consider won-lost record, Happ is sitting in a good position and will be even better if he can cross the coveted 20-win threshold. He’ll get a bit of a boost as well if he can help the Jays return to the postseason for a second consecutive season.

Happ’s Jays will host the hapless — and Happ-less — Angels on Thursday evening. He’ll take on veteran Jered Weaver in a 7:07 PM EDT start.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 7:15 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta), 8:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Chicago White Sox (Anthony Ranaudo), 8:10 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EDT

Let’s play the “how long has it been since the Cubs won the World Series?” game!

1908 Cubs
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It started with a no-good St. Louis Cardinals fan being a troublemaker. That no-good Cardinals fan was Drew Silva, who began things innocently enough, noting that, despite their dominance this season, any team can theoretically beat the Chicago Cubs in a short series because that’s just how baseball goes:

Cubs fans started giving him guff for that, so Drew gave some back:

And with that it was on like Donkey Kong (a super old video game which was not invented for another 73 years after the Cubs last won the World Series). I tweeted this:

And with that, my followers went crazy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best ones:

And, for that matter . . .

Too soon. Unlike the last Cubs World Series title.

Like I said, this was just a sampling. I’ve retweeted a ton more on my timeline and those I didn’t retweet can be seen in the replies here. My favorite one may have been “literally the invention of sliced bread,” which debuted in 1912, but I can’t find that tweet.

Please, Cubs fans, have a sense of humor about this. You have a wonderful ballpark that is not named after a third tier mortgage company, a grand history that is fantastic even if it hasn’t featured any championships and a future that is as bright or brighter than any other team out there. Maybe even come up with some of your own in the comments! History is fun! As is self-deprecation! What I’m saying is don’t be salty about this sort of thing. Salty is a bad look.

In other news, the Morton Salt Company was incorporated in 1910, two years after the Cubs last World Series victory.