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.

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.