No, you don’t re-vote the MVP award in light of Ryan Braun’s positive test

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You figured someone would say this. That someone is Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi, who makes the argument that the BBWAA should be allowed to re-vote the NL MVP award if Ryan Braun’s positive test for testosterone is upheld on appeal.

At the outset, it’s worth noting that the BBWAA has no intention whatsoever of doing this. It’s not the official position of the organization. It’s simply Morosi’s personal view. So let’s take a look at that view.

The leading premise — really the only premise — of the argument is that he doesn’t want the sports writers to feel like schmucks:

The BBWAA awards — MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year — are the most significant individual honors in North American professional sports. They have more permanence, and inspire greater debates, than similar honors in the NFL, NBA and NHL. And the voters should be able to say their process was just. Ultimately, it is up to us — the writers. They are our awards. We vote on them. We present them to the players. We have license to determine the procedure by which winners are determined.

He basically says “oh those poor sportswriters who didn’t know Braun may have been taking banned substances deserve another chance.”  But he acknowledges that the positive test allegedly came after the season was over and the voting was all done, so how exactly were the writers hoodwinked?

Morosi goes on to note that the BBWAA didn’t go back and change the votes for when Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and others won postseason awards. The distinction: that was a long time ago and the voting for Braun was recent. It’s unclear what the cutoff is supposed to be. A year? Three years? When the writers stop feeling hurt? I think that might be it, actually.

Morosi is allowed to feel however he feels about this. But it’s pretty clear that this is about just that — feeling — and not about some objective idea of justice and propriety when it comes to postseason awards. This is about throwing out all of the presents your boyfriend bought you two days after the breakup.

And because of that it’s just the latest reason why I’m coming around to the idea that the sportswriters shouldn’t be in the business of handing out these awards in the first place. There’s too much narrative and emotion read into it. And it really doesn’t have a place.

Ryan Braun was the NL MVP. It happened and it’s history and if it came at a time when he was using banned substances, then that’s part of the history too. The sports writers should then do what they do best: place that history in context and tell the stories to readers.  Not act like this has anything to do with them.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”