Friday, July 28, 2006

1995 AL MVP--rules say character matters but voters don't

"In snubbing Belle, the writers also revived a controversy as old as the award itself. Many feel

From the Boston Globe, Nov. 17, 1995
Belle was the player of the year, and he was voted that very honor yesterday by The Sporting News. But the BBWAA has five criteria for MVP voters, and numbers are just one of them.

One of the guidelines includes "general character, disposition, loyalty and effort." It seemed that Belle was being penalized for his stormy relations with the media, though many voters contended that Vaughn was more valuable to the AL East champion Red Sox than Belle was to the talent-studded Indians.

Even though voting was done before the postseason, in which the Indians swept the Red Sox in three games, it seemed that conduct might have been a major factor.

"I guess it really does say something," said Vaughn, who didn't even begin to think of the possibility of becoming the MVP until a few days ago. ''People are looking at the whole thing, and it turns out that it's just not numbers.

Jack O'Connell, who covers the New York Yankees for The Hartford Courant, is the secretary of the BBWAA. He said his ballot listed Vaughn first, Cy Young winner Randy Johnson of Seattle second and Belle third. "I'd like to think character didn't make a difference in my vote," O'Connell said. "But it could have. Subconsciously, it might have."
  • A BBWAA officer blithely states he'd like to ignore the rules, but subconsciously he might've adhered to them. But he really doesn't know.

History often repeats itself. The tightest AL election also involved a question of popularity when Joe DiMaggio beat Ted Williams, 202-201, in 1947. Williams won the Triple Crown that season but was left off the 10th-place ballot by a Boston writer who did not like the sometimes snarling Red Sox star.

"It's important to have character," Vaughn said. "And to be considered the best at the major league level is tremendous. You don't think about it. To receive this honor is unbelievable."

  • Even the writer ignores the issue revealed here. And changes the whole argument to one of popularity.


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