You could have predicted this…
In the aftermath of Justin Morneau “stealing” the American League Most Valuable Player, New York is all aflutter over why wonderboy Derek Jeter didn’t win the award, as most everyone bleeding pinstripes had assumed was a lock. Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post even goes so far as to deem it a “Bronx bias.” Uh-huh.
“The voters will tell you differently, but know this: If Derek Jeter had the season he had playing for the Minnesota Twins, and if Justin Morneau had the season he had playing for the Yankees, it would be Jeter who would be reserving space on his shelf for the MVP plaque,” Vaccaro rants.
Huh. That’s rich. Because Twins catcher Joe Mauer did, in fact, have the season Derek Jeter did playing for the Yankees.
And yet, on voting day, the BBWAA garnered just three third-place votes for Mauer, who despite playing 14 fewer games than the Yankees captain, played the majority of his games behind the plate, a more physically demanding position than any other on the diamond. As pleased as Twins fans must be over Morneau’s selection, Mauer’s omission from so many ballots is ludicrous. How do numbers so seemingly similar result in 12 first-place and 14 second-place votes for Jeter, but none in either category for Mauer?
It gets worse. Newsday presents the voting broken down by city, and some of the results are stunning. Consider…
In Boston, Hartford Courant writer Dave Heuschkel had Mauer eighth, but dished out a fifth-place vote to Johnny Damon.
Allan Ryan of the Toronto Star didn’t even have him on his ballot, but gave Alex Rodriguez an eighth place vote, a ninth-place vote to Vladimir Guerrero, and a 10th-place vote to Manny Ramirez.
Jim Ingraham of the News Herald in Cleveland gave a second-place vote to Travis Hafner and a fifth-place vote to Grady Sizemore, both of the Indians, but had Mauer seventh.
Kat O’Brien of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, voted Mauer ninth. Right before a 10th-place vote for Gary Matthews.
And yet, all had Jeter at or near the top of their ballots. So, please, enough with the nonsense that this is a New York bias. As jobbed as Jeter might have been in the eyes of his fans, Mauer was virtually ignored despite a nearly identical season.
Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant writes: “If Jeter played for the Twins, where do you think he’d have finished in the voting? Fourth? Fifth? Sixth like Mauer? Heck, Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen had numbers that weren’t so dissimilar and he finished 10th.”
Meanwhile, the New York Post’s George King spouts: “Derek Jeter hasn’t had to swallow much garbage in his career. But finishing second in the AL MVP race to Justin Morneau likely required an ocean of flavored water to get it down the Yankee captain’s throat.”
Some are finding fault with the way other writers voted, of course, and there’s a fair amount of criticism in New York today over the Chicago Sun Times’ Joe Cowley for giving Jeter no more than a sixth-place vote. His ballot, as presented by Newsday, went like this:
8. A. Rodriguez
It’s a wonder if he filled this thing out during a cricket match at some Michigan Ave. pub. Jeter, six? Jermaine Dye, second? AJ Pierzynski was more of an MVP candidate than Mauer? Seriously?
Still, there is something completely perverse about George King detailing how Cowley has been at the center of a voting controversy before.
“In 2003, when he worked for the Daily Southtown, Cowley left Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells off his ballot. Chicago chapter chairman Paul Sullivan suspended Cowley from voting the following year because he didn’t think Cowley took the voting seriously and “embarrassed” the Chicago chapter,” he writes. Et tu?
King was, of course, the writer who left Pedro Martinez off the ballot in 1999, arguing that he didn’t feel a pitcher deserved the award, despite voting for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in previous years.