Friday, November 24, 2006

BBWAA guy gains fame in Nov. 2003 for failing to vote for a Yankee

BASEBALL JOURNAL; George's bluster reassures voter.

From: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) | Date: November 12, 2003 | Author: Souhan, Jim |

Byline: Jim Souhan; Staff Writer

If I had doubts about leaving Hideki Matsui off my American League rookie of the year ballot, they were assuaged at 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, when New York Post reporter George King left this message on my voice mail.

"You have just been ripped by George Steinbrenner," he said. "Welcome to the fraternity."

Steinbrenner, the Yankees' imperialistic owner,"

  • Hey, little copywriter, the opposite is true. IT'S YOU WHO ARE THE JUDGE, JURY, AND EXECUTIONER.

"criticized my decision to vote for Royals shortstop Angel Berroa, Indians outfielder Jody Gerut and Devil Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli for AL rookie of the year, eschewing Matsui.

Now I ..."******** This is the biggest day of the Minneapolis copywriter's life. THIS STORY WAS PUBLISHED AROUND THE GLOBE.*****

  • Basic report published Nov. 12, 2003 in the St. Petersburg Times:

"NEW YORK - George Steinbrenner called the voting for AL Rookie of the Year a "farce" and ripped two writers for leaving his outfielder, Hideki Matsui, off their ballots.

The Yankees owner castigated Bill Ballou of the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette and Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who said veterans who come from the Japanese leagues shouldn't be eligible for the award.

Royals shortstop Angel Berroa won the award by a vote of 88-84 Monday, the closest rookie race in 24 years. Matsui and Berroa both were left off two ballots.

"I firmly believe that a great injustice has been done to Hideki Matsui," Steinbrenner said in a statement Tuesday, adding that the two reporters "made up their own rules. " by "Wire Services"

Then by SI's Tom Verducci, more equivocation, Nov. 19, 2003:

"The four major awards, as decided by the Baseball Writers Association of America -- MVP, Cy Young, Manager and Rookie of the Year -- remain the gold standard of postseason prizes for all pro sports. This year, as much as any other in recent times, reminded us that one reason baseball's honors remain so compelling is the room for debate. The awards are as important and controversial as ever.
  • What helps make the awards so interesting -- even when somebody runs away with one as Barry Bonds did in winning his sixth National League MVP trophy Tuesday -- is the easy-to-understand, very public voting system used by the writers. (Ever see Gold Glove voting results? Football Hall of Fame? World Series MVP? Hank Aaron Award? The Grammys? Of course not.) For its postseason awards, baseball uses a system that thrives on accountability, which should be expected from professionals who ask likewise of the people they cover. If you're going to ask a pitcher why he gave up that game-winning homer, you'd better answer for your own ballot selections."
(These are completely false statements, as I've documented on this and my other mlbchat blog).

"And whoo-boy, did a few writers have some explaining to do this year."


    2:50 p.m. November 10, 2003

  • "Souhan did not return telephone calls seeking comment." On Nov. 11, Blum was able to publish he'd received an email from Souhan as follows:
"When Mr. Steinbrenner spends multiple millions to lure an MVP-caliber player from a major professional league, he should be embarrassed that such a high-profile player is vying for the Rookie of the Year award, and not the American League MVP award," Souhan said in an e-mail."

BUT BLUM STATES IN THE SAME AP STORY 11/11/03, via ESPN, "Yanks' owner calls voting a great injustice,"

"The Baseball Writers' Association of America, which conducts the vote, said it abides by the eligibility rules set by the commissioner's office."


""We have honored Japanese players with Rookie of the Year awards in the past and will probably do so in the future," BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell said in an e-mail.""

  • Happy so far, folks? Back to Verducci's garbage.....
"Ballots have never been kept secret,"

"but the issue of who voted for whom has loomed much larger since George King (New York chapter) and LaVelle Neal (Minnesota) left Pedro Martinez off their 1999 AL MVP ballot.

The sunshine movement gained more momentum this year when Bill Ballou (Boston) and Jim Souhan (Minnesota) decided they would ignore the very specific eligibility rules for the Rookie of the Year award and make up their own. And so they determined not only that Hideki Matsui of the Yankees was not a rookie, but also what the "spirit" of the award was.

What they should have done as conscientious objectors was to recuse themselves from the balloting. They should have declined the invitation to vote, allowed others who actually would adhere to established rules to fill out the ballot, and then brought up the possibility of changing the rules at the next BBWAA meeting -- and these are moves they should have made in any past season in which they felt so strongly. (The topic of rookie eligibility has never been formally discussed at a writers meeting.) Other scribes have, however, declined the opportunity to vote for various reasons in the past.

Accountability makes the writers look good and bad at the same time. It does reveal the warts, and one of the worst warts is the provincialism that goes on. Each award is voted on by two writers from each city in that particular league. Here are some of the more noteworthy hometown ballots cast:

• Chicago White Sox pitcher Esteban Loaiza received the only two first-place Cy Young votes that did not go to Roy Halladay. And where did both Loaiza votes come from? Chicago.

• Texas infielder Mark Teixeira received one first-place vote in the AL ROY voting. Where did it come from? Dallas.

• Only one writer left Carlos Delgado (RBI champion, second in OBP, slugging, walks and home runs) completely off his AL MVP ballot, which has room for 10 players. That was a writer from Chicago, Joe Cowley, who just happened to put two White Sox players on his ballot, Frank Thomas and Loaiza, who received no other MVP votes.

David Ortiz of the Red Sox was a part-time player for two months, was worthless against left-handers (.216, four homers), played only 45 games in the field, was awful outside of Fenway Park (.256 with 39 RBIs, three less than Todd Walker) and ranked eighth on his own team in hits, a mere 69 fewer than Nomar Garciaparra. He did, however, receive four first-place MVP votes, including both from the Boston chapter.

• Minnesota outfielder Shannon Stewart had laughable numbers for a serious MVP candidate. He was a leadoff hitter who didn't run (he stole four bases and was thrown out six times) or get on base much (he scored 90 runs, five fewer than Raul Ibanez) or hit for power (13 home runs) or hit especially well down the stretch (.289, zero home runs in September), all while playing a corner position (left field) with one of the worst arms in baseball. He did get three first-place MVP votes, though -- one from (surprise!) Minnesota and two from fellow AL Central chapter Chicago. (Chicago, again?)

In the end, no player or manager was robbed of an award. Even if Cowley had put Delgado first on his ballot, for instance, Alex Rodriguez would have still won the MVP award. You could also argue that ROY winner Angel Berroa had a better season than Matsui.

It's precisely the arguments that make the BBWAA awards so great."

  • Excuse me? You've just proven the OPPOSITE. THERE'S NO ACCOUNTABILITY NO RECOURSE. (Continuing):
"In what other system do people care so much about why somebody received a second-place vote (Derek Jeter?!) or demand to know who left a certain player off their ballot?"
"It's not a perfect system precisely because it is so human. Beat writers see their own team more than any other. They can get caught up in the euphoria of covering a championship club. They will see the same players they voted for (or against) a few months later in spring training, when the world knows how they voted.

So the next time you can't understand why somebody voted for Stewart as MVP or how somebody could think Delgado wasn't among the 10 best MVP candidates or how Matsui could not be considered a rookie despite the fact that prior to this season he'd never played Major League Baseball, remember that you are entitled to answers and that nobody cares this much about any other sports awards. You can thank the baseball writers for that. Their awards remain the best."

  • The best= no rules, no recourse, no accountability, most publicity for BBWAA UNION MEMBERS WHO'D OTHERWISE BE UNKNOWN.


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