Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear Mark Kriegel of Fox Sports

Mark Kriegel, welcome to the group. Meet Alex Marvez, who "reports" on the Cowboys much like Fox and CNN report on politics. This is Bill Simmons, who covers the Boston Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, and probably the local Little League team if you listen to him long enough. I don't think the major airlines let him on their planes anymore. Somewhere back there is Buster Olney; he's at the bottom of a bottle because the Yankees season has officially gone over the brink. You can pick up your Dodger gear after we finish introductions.

Your stellar argument supporting Manny Ramirez for NL MVP has earned you a spot in the group of delusionally blind sports fans in journalists' clothing who somehow don't realize that the rest of the world watches the athletes and games they cover.

This nonsensical argument could be dispatched by pointing out that Kriegel argues for a manchild who quit and whined his way off his last team. That would be a team that had won 2 of the last 4 World Series, was a lock for the postseason, was paying him 8 figures, and allowed him to behave like a juvenile jackass as long as he hit. I have no love for the Red Sox, but Manny absolutely, 100% screwed them. I need not even mention the phantom leg injury and contractual implications re Scott Boras (who may in fact be the Antichrist).

This drivel could be dismissed simply by pointing out that Marky Mark argues for a man who will have played less than 60 games for a team that has merely tread water while its weak division fell away. And even so, the Bums are no lock for the postseason despite what the oddsmakers say. They have 6 games against my Giants and a quick scan of history will tell you that the contender often struggles against the spoiler in the rivalry.

Even a Giants' fan has to admit that Manny has been incredible since he arrived in LA, but it's not like the Bums have won 80% of their games since he arrived. If they had, maybe you could consider his short stint for MVP. But they haven't; they've been slightly better than average while Arizona's been awful. At this point, you'd be giving Manny the MVP as much for Arizona's failure as LA's success. Unless it's changed, that is not the definition of an MVP.

But let us pretend that none of the above precludes Ramirez from MVP candidacy. He still falls short. Barry Bonds won several MVPs while being an average fielder (and that's being generous) later in his career, but he put up inane numbers for entire seasons. You may not like to hear it, especially in LA, but Manny Ramirez is a worse fielder than Barry was at any point in his career. Manny is not very good when he tries, and he dogs it frequently.

Consider that he moves into a cavernous left field on a team that has very litle offensive firepower. It is tough to understate the significance of this; Kriegel omits it entirely. I watched Ramirez play a routine flyball into a crippling double against the Giants on Friday night. In that game, Manny essentially drove home the final nails in Greg Maddux's coffin. We all know how many games he helps wins with his bat, but we have no idea how many he helps lose with his glove since the media ignores this aspect of baseball almost entirely.

As for the rest of Kriegel's argument regarding the fan/media perception of the Bums before Manny arrived, etc. That is or should be totally irrelevant. If not, then the MVP should come from Boston, New York, or Philly every year since those fan bases freak out on a yearly basis and the media heralds the End of Days the moment one of those teams slips up.

Even with no clear alternative, the idea of Manny Ramirez winning the NL MVP is laughable. By suggesting such garbage, Kriegel simultaneously confirms his loyalty to Dodger blue while obliterating any journalistic credibility he may have had.

But at least he's got plenty of company.

1 comment:

seth said...

Buster doesn't mean to be bottom barrel, I swear -