The Dish: AL MVP Voters Got It Wrong

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Is there an anti-Yankees bias in the media?

Pretty crazy to think that’s a legitimate question this week, but there it is: Derek Jeter was upset by Justin Morneau for the American League MVP award, an award Jeter and his .343 average were supposed to have locked up before September even came. With David Ortiz and the Red Sox dropping off a cliff, with Jermaine Dye and the White Sox not able to get out of their own way when it counted most, with Johan Santana having the temerity to play only once every five days…Jeter was supposed to be a shoo-in.

Spin back 365 days, and you’ll find another controversial AL MVP vote: Alex Rodriguez taking the award over Ortiz. Back then, we all made noise about how the Yankees had a bias in their favor: A-Rod did it on the biggest stage and Big Papi couldn’t have hacked it playing in the Apple (or playing in the field). That was a crock, and so is this. There wasn’t any pro-Yankees bias in 2005, and there isn’t any anti-Yankees bias now. Ortiz should’ve beaten A-Rod, because A-Rod is A-Fraud: a guy who doesn’t lead, a guy with hollow big numbers, a guy who can’t hack it when the pressure is on. And while Jeter is a great leader, and is extraordinarily clutch, he didn’t deserve the award this year, either.

Joe Mauer did.

Frankly, I didn’t think Morneau was even the most valuable guy on his own team. Mauer is the dude who stirred the drink on the Twins this year (and Santana didn’t hurt). He’s the first catcher ever to win the AL batting title. Think about that for a minute. Ever. He hit over .380 for the first half of the season, and everyone said, “Oh, no way, he’ll tail off, there’s no chance he’ll win the batting title, his legs will be shot by August.” Mauer proceeded to hit .347 with a ludicrous .429 on-base percentage from behind the plate, and somehow slugged .507 while only hitting 13 homers: that’s 34 doubles, four triples, 79 walks and only 54 strikeouts. He also threw out 38% of would-be basestealers on a staff not known for holding on runners, and he ranked second in the league in catcher’s ERA, behind Ivan Rodriguez, who plays in a much pitcher-friendlier home ballpark. Get blinded by Morneau’s huge power numbers, sure. Mauer was far more important to the Twins night-in, night-out.

Mauer, of course, finished sixth in the voting, because reporters like numbers. That’s the same reason Morneau beat Jeter: Jeter’s never going to hit 30 HR or 130 RBI. Ah, well. At least we know it’s not a pro- or anti-Yankees thing. It’s a numbers thing. Chicks dig the long ball.

What did you think of Michigan/Ohio St.? How did the books do on that game, with Michigan scoring a late cover? And now for the biggest question in the sporting mind this week: Will we see a repeat of Michigan/OSU in the national title game? One-loss USC probably trumps Michigan, but does one-loss Florida? One-loss Notre Dame? One-loss Arkansas?

BoDog Bookmakers, The Michigan cover wasn’t good for us on the spread, as many bettors felt the Wolverines could keep it within 7. The moneyline, however, was a different story, as bettors saw value in betting Michigan, thus we were able to walk away on the winning side of that one. A one-loss USC likely trumps Michigan in this case. None of the other teams mentioned will likely get the berth.

With the Colts losing to Dallas, and the Chargers winning at Denver, does the AFC have a new favorite to reach the Super Bowl?

BDB, I don’t think Indy’s ever been a favorite to win the Super Bowl, at least not until the team can actually make some waves in the playoffs. Regardless of the loss on Sunday, this is standard regular-season Indy football. Look almost unbeatable outside of one or two games, and then struggle to beat a 10-6 team at home in January.

I’m assuming you think Philadelphia’s season is ruined with Donovan McNabb going down. But how about these NFC “contenders” who’ve gone completely cold of late. Any of them have a run left: Minnesota, Atlanta, New Orleans, St. Louis?

BDB, New Orleans has made a lot of mistakes during their last two losses. Look for next week’s match-up against the Falcons to determine which of the two will make a late-season run. Minnesota and St. Louis just don’t look the same caliber as these two teams.

Were you surprised Ryan Howard won the National League MVP over Albert Pujols? I was.

BDB, If Pujols wasn’t injured, there may have been many surprises in terms of stats last season. At least he got the World Series title. Those of us who think Pujols should have won it are being blinded by the glimmer of the World Series trophy; Howard easily led the majors in both home runs and RBIs and made the statement that he is the future in baseball. The honor is well-deserved.

write by ROGER CHINN

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