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No, you don’t re-vote the MVP award in light of Ryan Braun’s positive test

Dec 12, 2011, 10:04 AM EDT

braun getty Getty Images

You figured someone would say this. That someone is Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi, who makes the argument that the BBWAA should be allowed to re-vote the NL MVP award if Ryan Braun‘s positive test for testosterone is upheld on appeal.

At the outset, it’s worth noting that the BBWAA has no intention whatsoever of doing this. It’s not the official position of the organization. It’s simply Morosi’s personal view. So let’s take a look at that view.

The leading premise — really the only premise — of the argument is that he doesn’t want the sports writers to feel like schmucks:

The BBWAA awards — MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year — are the most significant individual honors in North American professional sports. They have more permanence, and inspire greater debates, than similar honors in the NFL, NBA and NHL. And the voters should be able to say their process was just. Ultimately, it is up to us — the writers. They are our awards. We vote on them. We present them to the players. We have license to determine the procedure by which winners are determined.

He basically says “oh those poor sportswriters who didn’t know Braun may have been taking banned substances deserve another chance.”  But he acknowledges that the positive test allegedly came after the season was over and the voting was all done, so how exactly were the writers hoodwinked?

Morosi goes on to note that the BBWAA didn’t go back and change the votes for when Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and others won postseason awards. The distinction: that was a long time ago and the voting for Braun was recent. It’s unclear what the cutoff is supposed to be. A year? Three years? When the writers stop feeling hurt? I think that might be it, actually.

Morosi is allowed to feel however he feels about this. But it’s pretty clear that this is about just that — feeling — and not about some objective idea of justice and propriety when it comes to postseason awards. This is about throwing out all of the presents your boyfriend bought you two days after the breakup.

And because of that it’s just the latest reason why I’m coming around to the idea that the sportswriters shouldn’t be in the business of handing out these awards in the first place. There’s too much narrative and emotion read into it. And it really doesn’t have a place.

Ryan Braun was the NL MVP. It happened and it’s history and if it came at a time when he was using banned substances, then that’s part of the history too. The sports writers should then do what they do best: place that history in context and tell the stories to readers.  Not act like this has anything to do with them.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    “And because of that it’s just the latest reason why I’m coming around to the idea that the sportswriters shouldn’t be in the business of handing out these awards in the first place. There’s too much narrative and emotion read into it. And it really doesn’t have a place.”

    Exactly. Computers do not have feelings. They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. They should be picking the awards.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:11 AM

      Straw man. Never said computers. I’d be for a balanced committee of people which includes writers, analysts, historians, league people, maybe former players, whatever.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:24 AM

        Oh no, I guess what I said sounded like you are for computers. LOL. I AM FOR COMPUTERS!!! I think anytime human beings in general are there to pick an award, it is going to be too subjective. I hate things like the BCS in college football, CY Young/MVP/Hall of Fame voting, etc. I wasn’t ripping computers voting…I was saying they are what I would have do all the voting!!!!!!

      • evanhartford - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        I don’t think Computers have any place in the voting process, save for the ability for them to quickly compute stats so that writers etc can more quickly make a decision. If you had computers make the decision, they would still make their decision based purely on the parameters set by humans. I think a little subjectivity is a good thing. It allows writers to factor in stuff like “pressure” when you’re looking at someone playing for the Yankees versus someone playing for the Kansas City.

        Craig, assuming Braun is found guilty, do you still believe that PEDs have absolutely no effect on individual performance or is this just another convenient anomoly?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        It allows writers to factor in stuff like “pressure” when you’re looking at someone playing for the Yankees versus someone playing for the Kansas City.

        How does playing for the Yankees invoke more pressure than playing for KC? If you are on the Yanks, you almost have an all-star at every position, unless you are a pitcher. But even then you have a perennial CY candidate?

        do you still believe that PEDs have absolutely no effect on individual performance or is this just another convenient anomoly?

        What performance changed? He hit roughly the same amount of doubles, triples and HR he has every year and he’s been tested at least six times. He’s walking more, do PEDs help that?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        Just the last two posts confirm my beliefs that computers are the most objective way to vote on these awards. One guy wants “pressure” situations to be included in the voting, where a guy playing for the Yankees gets credit versus someone playing for the Royals. The next guy refutes it. Why do we continue to beat ourselves over the head year after year. There will NEVER be a committee of people “balanced” enough to create a purely objective award voting process. Let the computers handle it.

      • Old Gator - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

        Craig is right. Let’s first strip Barry Bonds of his larcenously acquired home run title, and then re-vote the 2011 NL MVP.

      • evanhartford - Dec 12, 2011 at 1:02 PM

        Church, I’m glad that you are able to point out one of the few reasons why there MIGHT be less pressure in NYC versus Kansas City. Do me a favor and list out the 192380921380219830921 reasons why there is MORE pressure playing in NYC than in Kansas City. Once you’re done, hopefully you’ll recognize the stark difference and rethink your answer.

        In terms of Ryan Braun’s stats, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this wasn’t the first time Braun has ever taken PEDs. For all we know, he could have been taking them most of his career and just never got caught. The point is, Craig has constantly argued that there is no evidence that PEDs actually improve a player’s performance. This, despite the fact that many of the players atop the career HR list coincidentally have been caught juicing. Now we have yet another MVP season given to someone that was doping. I think its time for Craig to rethink his assessment.

      • randygnyc - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:30 PM

        Just because we were ignorant yesterday, doesn’t mean we should always remain so. We know more than in recent years. The past shouldn’t necessarily dictate our future.

        Now, with that said, there is a legitimate reason for not stripping Braun of the award. We have no proof that he used steroids during the season. His failed test occured after the regular season ended.

    • stex52 - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:15 AM

      Give some geek a chance and he will program pity, remorse and fear into a computer. Craig’s idea of a balanced committee makes a lot of sense, but what we really need is an objective standard that says “This is what makes an MVP.” And it needs to be generally agreed to. Not that it will be that easy. But the present contest has a bit of a Miss America feel to it.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      Absolutely. Look how perfect the BCS gets those college rankings every year! Never any controversy there. All Hail the mindless computer!

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        Um, sorry to burst your bubble, but the Computers actually got it right this year, in my opinion. It’s the idiots who do the voting who kept Alabama ahead of OK St in the Harris Interactive and USA Today polls. if only the computers were 100%…then it would be a fresh match-up Between LSU and OK St instead of Boredom Part Deux.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        Computers only do what they are told to do by people. Each formula tries to estimate team quality based on metrics that generally are regarded to reflect quality of performance. The computers are only necessary because they are quicker at math than pencil and paper.

        In short, it is still people that decide 100% of the BCS rankings.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Well, I guess if you want to look at it technically, when Kasparov was playing Deep Blue, he was really playing the humans who programmed the computer. But the computer rankings are far more objective than the idiot coaches who voted in the USA Today poll…did you see some of the voting in that poll? Ridiculous.

      • mortymcfearson - Dec 12, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        What should the penalty in the polls be for losing to #1? What should the penalty in the polls be for losing to a team with a 3-6 conference record that should have been a 2-7 conference record?

      • jdillydawg - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:23 PM

        So, what you’re saying is that LSU v. Alabama will be a boring game and therefore we should have let Ok St. play LSU instead and used the computers to justify that?

        Also, I think what I hear you saying is that all those previous years the computers totally blew it don’t count.

        You didn’t burst my bubble, I think you proved my point. Your “Computer Rankings” are a rationale to get the teams together that you want to play. Why have a computer do that when humans can do it all by themselves? Just turns out they had a different opinion than you. Bummer.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    “They are our awards.”

    I thought the players had something to do with it. JPM understands that his job is to REPORT on what happens in sports news, not BE sports news, right? Do they still teach that in journalism school?

    • JBerardi - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:23 AM

      “Do they still teach that in journalism school?”

      Well, this particular journalist just got his ass handed to him by a guy with a law degree, so…

  3. bgeary8 - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    So basically he’s saying the voters are what’s most important in this whole ordeal.

  4. canucks18 - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Morosi is exactly what’s wrong with the voting and writers should NOT be the voting panel for these awards. It’s a complete joke!!!

  5. drunkenhooliganism - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    How does his alleged steroid use affect how valuable he was to the team? Is there a morals clause in MVP voting?

    • JBerardi - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      Basically the rules as I understand them is that you can vote for anyone for whatever dumb reason you can think of. But the writers basically ignore them anyway.

  6. JBerardi - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    You know, I’d be more open to letting the BBWAA re-do these awards if they showed any ability to make intelligent choices the first time. I feel like if we let them re-vote they’ll probably just go and give the NL MVP to Michael Young or Tim Tebow or someone…

    • b7p19 - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:45 AM

      Tebow totally got jobbed in this years MVP voting. I didn’t see his name on a single ballot.

    • bozosforall - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      No matter how much you try, Ellsbury STILL isn’t getting the AL MVP award that deservedly went to Verlander. So stop your stereotypical New England whining right now.

  7. hushbrother - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Who would vote for awards then? Managers and coaches? That would be far worse. Narrative and emotion would be replaced with dozens of worse things – small sample sizes, cliches, hearsay, and indifference, to name just four.

    I say use the South Park method and let manatees choose them!

    • jwbiii - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:55 AM

      But they do such wonderful job with Gold Gloves!

  8. cur68 - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Confirms what I’ve always thought about MVP voting: ultimately a popularity contest with the BBWAA the judges. The criteria: who they like the most of those that had a top 10 season or was Mike Young.

    Re-vote? Hell, it was nearly a waste of time the first time they voted. Just give the damn thing to Kemp like they should have in the first place…or Mike Young. Either would be fair.

  9. Jonny 5 - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Well maybe if the BBWAA members actually voted for the best NL player in 2011 they wouldn’t be in this position of having the MVP on PED’s? Kemp deserved the award and the BBWAA again proved they don’t deserve to vote. Again using “narrative” as an excuse (playoff appearance) to make the wrong decision. And it bit them.

    • JBerardi - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      Right, and they want to overturn it now that their narrative has changed from Braun being a winning winner who wins to Braun being a cheating cheater who cheats.

  10. paperlions - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    I’m confused. I must have missed a seismic shift in sports writing. When did placing “history in context and tell[ing] the stories to readers.” become what writers did best? Last time I checked, acting like they were part of the story is what most modern sport journalists (including radio and TV) do best.

    • Kyle - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM

      A-frigging-men.

    • paperlions - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      At least on journalist reads HBT. :-)

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        *one

  11. anythingbutyanks - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Not saying Braun is at this level yet, but there is one reason why I think it does matter and would consider taking a second vote on MVP: awards like Cy Young, MVP and so forth are an important part of the HOF discussion. Now obviously HOF voters will be aware of the positive test if and when that day comes, but I think it gives a huge amount of credibility to a player’s candidacy for the HOF when you can cite the stats and then add “2011 NL MVP” or “Two time MVP” or “Two time Cy Young Award winner and two second place finishes”. Career stats can be good, not great, but a string of awards attached tell you that a player was the best that there was for parts of his career. As long as the other years are very good but not great, the averages for his career may look very good and not great. These awards matter, and being able to get it right should matter.
    As to the question of how long such things should be open to votes and re-votes. The 2011 MVP should be subject to change until the first game of the following season is played. Just my humble opinion.

    • anythingbutyanks - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      Just make it a case where no less than 75% of BBWAA voters have to agree to a re-vote (to keep it from being a vocal minority thing). If that many writers can agree to a re-vote, then obviously there has been a significant change in information and opinion.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      I think you have some valid points there, but I don’t necessarily agree that the HOF should be about how good a person is as opposed to how well he played. Times and circumstances change every year, and players are awarded for their efforts year by year.

      Many say the Hall is about the whole person. Otherwise Rose would be there now. We are human, and by only allowing those in that we deem “worthy” based on character is foolish. We really don’t know these players on such an intimate level and it’s foolish to pretend we do.

      Highlighting these points in history will do more to teach our children about the game and character than ignoring or shutting it down will.

  12. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Is it a coincedence that this came out right after the announcement of the new CBA?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      Wasn’t this information leaked to ESPN? Most places I’ve read said MLB was keeping a lid on it until the appeals process was carried thru, a la JC Romero.

  13. jdillydawg - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Awards are given out for deeds done during a specific time and with the information available. I’m with the writer on this one (although giving it to Kemp wouldn’t bother me at all!). If the drug test is upheld and Braun’s 50 game suspension goes into effect, I’m pretty sure he won’t be receiving any awards for the 2012 season.

    Life and awards are a lot about “what have you done for me lately.” I’m sad to see Braun’s image tarnished, but taking the award away doesn’t help anything and most likely won’t act as a deterrent.

    That said, let’s let Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. My kid loves watching old ball games with Charlie Hustle. Honor the players, forgive their human shortcomings.

    • dexterismyhero - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      Maybe they should just replay the inside the park home run attempt where he falls betweeen 3rd and home evry time he comes to bat. That would be pretty embarassing. :>)

      And no, Pete Rose shouldn’t get in the HOF since he bet on/against his own team while being a manager.

      • jdillydawg - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:55 PM

        So what you are saying is that some types of cheating are ok for the Hall but not others? Rose was arguably the hardest working ball player to ever play the game. But because he was an absolute idiot when it came to his personal habits, we say he can’t be in the Hall.

        If we could see into the hearts of every ball player sitting in Cooperstown right now, I would guarantee you we would uncover some filthy stuff that would make us question how someone got into the Hall.

        Pete should be in the Hall for both reasons, I think. It’s history, and rather than recognize it – the good and the bad – we simply choose to make judgment and/or ignore it.

  14. genericcommenter - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    I refuse to believe that the singer for Creed uses PEDs.

  15. cshearing - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    I now this is a baseball site, but I am surprised his ridiculous assertion that the MLB awards are the only ones that mean anything has not glotten more attention.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 12, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      They tried giving out the Heisman one year, but none of the ballplayers seemed to appreciate it.

  16. sterko - Dec 12, 2011 at 3:22 PM

  17. raysfan1 - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    What happened during the season happened, and records are records–got it. However, while this test happened after the votes were, it was still during the same league year. I’d advocate a rule change that any award is revoked and awarded to the next highest vote-getter if the player originally named tests positive before the start of the next season–after appeals. In this case, if Braun loses his appeal in January, then give the award to Kemp. Take away his trophy, give it to Kemp. Make it so he did not earn whatever bonus his contract called for/make him repay it. No need for re-votes.

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