The closing comments of yesterday’s column was somewhat of a harbinger of things to come today. Earlier this month some folks were a bit upset over the outcome of the manager of the year voting which saw the Baltimore Orioles’ Buck Showalter edged out by Bob Melvin of Oakland. The award of course was of course voted on by the BBWAA, and the vote was very close in Melvin’s favor. So here’s an interesting point; fans get to vote on some aspects of baseball such as the all-star game. The justification given by the league for that is that it’s an exhibition for the fans, so why shouldn’t they get to choose the teams?
I see that as a weak argument, first off. My issue with letting the fans vote is because whether they deserve it or not certain players are always going to get in, and certain teams are always going to be represented. However again, if fans get to vote for the all-star game, why not allow them to vote for awards such as Manager of the Year? You could make the same argument for the Gold Glove awards, Rookie of the Year, etc.
One argument against that concept would that that many coaches and players have clauses in their contracts granting them bonuses if they take home hardware as such. So is it really fair to put that kind of decision in the hands of fans? The fact is that the same is true of players for the all-star game. Many guys have those same bonus clauses in their contracts if they’re elected to the mid-summer classic. So throw that argument out the window. However I would submit that it’s unfair for those decisions to be made by sportswriters as well. Granted they’re supposed to be objective by nature. And I do believe that most sportswriters make a concentrated effort to be objective to a degree. However is that always the case? Using the NFL as an example, Art Monk was kept out of the Hall of Fame for years upon years; many believe that he didn’t get in because he was such a quiet player in the locker room during his career. (He was never quiet in a jerk-like manner, but more so in a shy way.) So is that objectivity on the part of writers/voters?
That aside, if the game is ultimately for the fans, the real question is why shouldn’t they vote on things such as Manager of the Year? (The league of course would still submit the nominees, and the fans would then vote online like they do for the all-star game.) From Orioles fans’ perspective, would that have meant Buck Showalter would have won? That’s tough to say. People out west love to talk about an “East Coast Bias” that the media has, however I’m not sure if that’s a truth or if it’s just that the east coast media is louder and a bit more aggressive. That in itself might have put Showalter over the top had the fans voted simply because he was on television and radio more often. But it’s tough to say.
For the record, I”m not in favor of fans voting on these awards. I’m simply throwing the idea out there. I’m not in favor of the fans voting for the all-star game either, for the record. As a society part of our problem is that we’re constantly trying to iron out all inequities and all hiccups. Do I think Showalter should have won? Yes, however I don’t see Melvin’s victory as grand larceny by any means. These systems are all imperfect, however if we went to a different system (ie-fans voting) that would be just as imperfect if not more so. All it would take would be for one Yankee, Red Sox, Cubs, etc, player to be nominated, and whether they’re truly deserving or not that guy would win the Gold Glove, Manager of the Year, etc. The system’s never going to be perfect, but perhaps if we just accepted that as opposed to trying to find some cure-all, we’d appreciate it just a little more.