Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Gold Glove Conspiracy

So the gold glove winners have been announced and I can’t say there are too many surprises in this year’s winners. Nevertheless, and perhaps because of, this I find myself just as annoyed by these awards as I am every year.

And no, it’s not because no Red Sox players won. We were a defensive shambles from the jump in 2009, a defensive shambles that ultimately lost us the division. Youkilis and (in a prime example of ‘its better late than never’) Alex Gonzalez (the now without a contract for some Theo-only-knows reason Alex Gonzalez) were the only bright spots defensively for the ‘09 Sox. Apparently Jason Bay was perfect in LF for us this year, but the guy has a Johnny Damon-esqe arm, so he doesn’t count.

The trouble I have with the gold glove awards is the seeming ease previous winners are able to retain their glove. Take Torii Hunter for example. Now nobody disputes his brilliance in the field, nor his offensive prowess, nor, for that matter, that he seems like a really nice guy. But the fact of the matter is that Torii will likely take home the AL CF gold glove until the day he hangs up that glove, is this really fair?

No, it makes a mockery of what is supposed to be an award given out on merit. Torii wasn’t the best CF in the AL this year. Carlos Gomez of the Twins was. Gomez played more games at CF, has more assists and compiled the exact same .997 fielding percentage as Hunter did. Torii Hunter has won the award based on reputation and superior offensive value, two factors that should play no part in selecting the best defensive players at each position.

That being said, I used to love Eric Chavez and never had a problem when he’d win the third base gold glove year after year despite being more fragile than glass.

One also has to feel sorry for poor Kevin Kouzmanoff of the lowly Padres who has been pipped to the post by Ryan Zimmerman of the even more lowly Nats. Going back to what I said about Hunter, by rights Kouzmanoff should have won this award as he was the best defensive 3b in the NL in 2009. However, there wasn’t much in it, both players are first time winners playing for awful teams, and Zimmerman made ‘gold glove plays’ all year.

What frustrates me about Kouz losing is that the Padre’s have essentially done this to themselves. According to the Pods GM sent a highlight reel of Kouzmanoff’s plays and defensive stats to all the other NL GMs instructing them to vote for his man. If I were Kouzmanoff I would not like this one little bit. I was always taught that praise (and by extension, reward) is something given, not asked for. Certainly were I in a position to award gold gloves, and found my vote was split between a player who did no electioneering and let his record speak for itself, and one who’s GM had been cheerleading for him since season’s end, I’d go with Zimmerman every time.

As for Ryan Zimmerman, I can’t help but think he’d look very good manning the third base at Fenway.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

All Hail King Petey

You know what? The Phillies might just pull this one off.

I’d thought this series was a done deal when the Yankees elected to go with CC on short rest in Game 4 (which I might add shows an alarming lack of faith in the rest of the staff). Yet somehow Jimmy “the False Prophet” Rollins are the rest of the Philly squad have managed to bounce back.

I must admit that I am loving this World Series. Game 2 in particular was awesome, the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium during the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performance was incredible. I must also admit that once the Yankees made it 3-1 my attention began to wander and the all too familiar, and slightly hypocritical given the Red Sox expenditure of last, “well, they just bought themselves another championship’ barbs began to enter my vocabulary. But Philadelphia are at least making a series of it.

Ultimately I’m enjoying this 2009 World Series for what it is; a battle between two hugely talented yet hugely flawed teams both in possession of some of the best fans in baseball.

One thing stands out especially, and no its not Chase Utley’s Ruthian stats or Cliff Lee out-classing CC Sabathia at every turn. No, 2009’s Fall Classic should forever be remember for signalling Pedro Martinez’s return to the big stage, in what may well be his final hurrah.
Petey has been incredible. Even if his 7k performance in Game 2 wasn’t enough to convince the world that this is beyond all doubt the greatest pitcher since Koufax, we have witnessed the return of the “greater interview in Sports”.

Pedro has turned in some great quotes, from his proclaimations of his own ‘specialness’ to his announcement that he is the Yankee’s most feared adversary, everything out of the man’s mouth has been pure gold.

This is what we’ve all been missing since Martinez was at his dominant pinnacle in Boston. The arrogance, the confidence, the real Pedro!

Given Pedro’s performances down the stretch with Philly I see no reason why he won’t stick around in MLB for at least another couple of years, and I welcome it whole-heartedly. This man is one of the reasons I fell in love with this game, a loud, exciting character that truly captivates an audience. What’s more I’d love to see the guy get to 250 wins.

Give me an over the hill Petey over CC and Cliff any day of the week.

Right, that’s it, love-fest over. I’ll be back to slagging off the Yankees again soon.