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Former-Astro Hunter Pence named Astros MVP

Nov 2, 2011, 10:00 AM EDT

Hunter Pence Getty Images

This is fun. The Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America votes on the Astros MVP every year. And then, later this winter, there’s a banquet held in his honor which also serves as a fundraiser for team charities and as an unofficial kickoff to the 2012 season.  And the winner of the MVP award: Hunter Pence, who was traded from the team in July.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle has a major problem with this, and I can’t see a single word in his column with which I disagree.

Pence was not as valuable to the team overall as Carlos Lee and maybe some other guys who were actually on the team all year instead of half of it.  More to the point, Justice sees the vote as the local writers’ way to embarrass the Astros and team management for their awful year.

But the stuff with which I agree the most is the righteous noise Justice brings regarding the role of the BBWAA in this modern age, it’s increasing irrelevance now that teams have increasingly usurped the news dissemination business — and it is a business — and given that in many instances the best writers covering each team (i.e. the MLB.com beat writers) aren’t even allowed in the BBWAA.  It’s a story of institutional rot, and Justice freakin’ nails it.  And it means way more coming from him on the inside than it means coming from any of us who have said some similar things about it on the outside over the years.

The actual workaday members of the BBWAA — the men and women who cover the teams on a daily basis and vote on the league-wide postseason awards– are, for the most part, a sharp bunch who do their job well and honor the institution to which they belong.  But the greater membership, which contains hundreds of people who haven’t covered the game for years yet still retain Hall of Fame voting rights and play gatekeeper for the overall organization, is a mess. And it leads to stuff like this.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Nov 2, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Pence, now a member of the Phillies, should politely decline the award and diner. It would show class to the Astros, an organization that he was with his entire career and treated him right.

    • Kyle - Nov 2, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      Well put. It would be a nice gesture by Pence.

    • kopy - Nov 2, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      The issue, as stated in the article, is that there are charities that are benefiting from and counting on the proceeds from this dinner. This is why the Astros owners said they’re still going to attend. If either party backs out, it’s a bad PR move.

      I’m not saying Pence is obligated to attend, but it wouldn’t be doing a favor to the Astros to force an entire charitable dinner to be canceled because he didn’t show. It’s a sticky situation, and that’s why everyone is mad at the BBWAA for creating it.

  2. normb11 - Nov 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Being traded for Cosart and Singleton is the most valuable thing to happen to the franchise in 2011.

  3. cshearing - Nov 2, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Sounds like the whole BBWAA needs to be scrapped, with something new rising in its place.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 2, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      Not scrapped, just culled… Joseph Stalin style…

  4. Kyle - Nov 2, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    What a joke. Very well written piece by Justice.

  5. tooz72 - Nov 2, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    thats like being the smartest kid in the retard class

    • lyon810 - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:09 PM

      smarts have no bearing in the retard class, some kids are just a pinch less retarded than the others. Don’t be ignorant.

  6. heynerdlinger - Nov 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    and given that in many instances the best writers covering each team (i.e. the MLB.com beat writers) aren’t even allowed in the BBWAA.

    This is grammar nerdery at best, but I think you mean to use “e.g.” here. Using “i.e.” implies that you’re asserting that the best writers covering each team are the MLB.com beat writers. I suspect that instead you are trying to say that the MLB.com are one example of an overall class of writers who are ineligible for membership in the BBWAA.

    e.g. = For example
    i.e. = In other words

    • heynerdlinger - Nov 2, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      I revel in your grammar-hate.

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