In the name of all that is holy!
Kenny Albert and Tim McCarver made it very clear during Saturday’s FOX Red Sox-Yankees broadcast that we can’t allow Melky Cabrera to win the NL batting title after his steroids suspension this week. In fact, it seems we need a new rule to prevent players who receive steroid suspension from being eligible for such awards.
And I can actually see the latter point. The BBWAA might want to consider a rule that prevents such players from qualifying for postseason awards.
But the batting title isn’t an an award. It doesn’t exist as anything more than a sacrifice fly crown or a passed ball champion does. It’s made up, and it only matters to people who any weight into it.
The truth is that very few people care about the batting title anymore. It definitely meant something in the days of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, and it was still a big honor in the era of Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs.
Now? Did anyone besides the Mets really care that Jose Reyes won the NL batting crown last year? Does anyone even know that Carlos Gonzalez won it in 2010 or Hanley Ramirez did in 2009? I’m guessing even Pirates fans scarcely remember that Freddy Sanchez won the NL batting title in 2006.
My whole feeling on the subject of asterisks and the like is that you leave the statistics alone and then you decide for yourself what they mean. Regardless of how he did it, Melky Cabrera hit .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBI this season, and it’d be foolish for anyone to try to tamper with that.
I just saw Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs refer to this as “BryceGhazi” and we’re not gonna top that, so we shouldn’t even try.
The controversy: Bryce Harper, in defeating Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby last night, didn’t follow the rules. Or else his dad, who was pitching to him didn’t. The rule in question is that the pitcher has to wait for the last hit ball to land before delivering the next one. Given that the Derby is a timed event, such a thing matters, of course, because the faster you get pitches the faster you can hit them out of the park. At least if you don’t get too tired first.
Harper’s dad was a bit quick with the final three pitches in the final round, allowing Harper to get to 18, tying Kyle Schwarber before winning it outright with his 30 seconds bonus time. Watch as Harper waves for his dad to deliver the pitch while the last ball is still flying:
I’m not gonna argue that he didn’t do it. I will say, however, that no one should really care. Mostly because it’s the Home Run Derby and it doesn’t matter a bit. Getting mad about this is a half-step removed from getting mad that Blackjack Mulligan used a foreign object to gouge Pedro Morales’ eyes during a house show in 1976. Yes, it’s true, but c’mon, we’re entertaining people here.
I have not seen any suggestion that Kyle Schwarber is upset, but if he later says he is I’ll simultaneously understand yet still roll my eyes. I doubt MLB will do anything here or issue a statement of any kind. If it does, I’ll roll my eyes harder. Because, I repeat: It’s the Home Run Derby.