Former-Astro Hunter Pence named Astros MVP

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This is fun. The Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America votes on the Astros MVP every year. And then, later this winter, there’s a banquet held in his honor which also serves as a fundraiser for team charities and as an unofficial kickoff to the 2012 season.  And the winner of the MVP award: Hunter Pence, who was traded from the team in July.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle has a major problem with this, and I can’t see a single word in his column with which I disagree.

Pence was not as valuable to the team overall as Carlos Lee and maybe some other guys who were actually on the team all year instead of half of it.  More to the point, Justice sees the vote as the local writers’ way to embarrass the Astros and team management for their awful year.

But the stuff with which I agree the most is the righteous noise Justice brings regarding the role of the BBWAA in this modern age, it’s increasing irrelevance now that teams have increasingly usurped the news dissemination business — and it is a business — and given that in many instances the best writers covering each team (i.e. the MLB.com beat writers) aren’t even allowed in the BBWAA.  It’s a story of institutional rot, and Justice freakin’ nails it.  And it means way more coming from him on the inside than it means coming from any of us who have said some similar things about it on the outside over the years.

The actual workaday members of the BBWAA — the men and women who cover the teams on a daily basis and vote on the league-wide postseason awards– are, for the most part, a sharp bunch who do their job well and honor the institution to which they belong.  But the greater membership, which contains hundreds of people who haven’t covered the game for years yet still retain Hall of Fame voting rights and play gatekeeper for the overall organization, is a mess. And it leads to stuff like this.

Manny Machado to face another team that doesn’t like him very much

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Brewers fans booed the living heck out of Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado during the NLCS. They had reason to, of course, as Machado turned in a couple of pretty dirty plays. To Machado’s credit, he embraced the role of heel pretty well by grabbing his crotch in the crowd’s general direction in Game 7. I can’t say I want my kid doing that, but (a) Machado is not my kid; and (b) If you’re gonna be the bad guy anyway, you may as well own it, so thank you Manny. You provided us with some entertainment.

You might think that the ill-will toward Machado is over now, but that may not be the case. Because if you remember back to April and May of last year, there was a good bit of it between Machado and the Red Sox.

In a series between the Orioles and the Red Sox in late April 2017, Machado slid hard into Dustin Pedroia, injuring him. Despite the fact that Machado seemed genuinely concerned about Pedroia, suggesting no ill-intent — and despite the fact that Pedroia seemed OK with the play — Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head later in the series in retaliation, earning a suspension.

Fast forward a week, when the teams met again, and Chris Sale — the World Series Game 1 starter — threw behind Machado, resulting in a warning being issued. Machado would later homer in the game, which one thinks would help bring some resolution to all of that, but after the game was over Sale’s pitch was still sticking in his craw.

As was the F-word. A lot of F-words were in Machado’s craw too:

That ended up being the end of all of that, but one wonders if Machado still harbors some ill will. Or if Barnes does. Or if Sale does. My guess is that even if they do harbor some ill will, or if Machado harbors ill will toward them, everyone will keep a lid on it because this is the freakin’ World Series and no one wants to hurt their team over a more than year-old beef.

But I bet the Fenway Faithful let Machado hear it. Keep a camera on Machado, Fox.