Put this piece from Bill Simmons into the dictionary next to the entry for "myopia". "Provincial" would also be a good spot. (And we Southerners are supposed to be the ones living in our own insular little world.) In case you haven't been following this blog from its diaper days, one of my pet peeves is the obsession with the Yankees and Red Sox, which has destroyed any enjoyment that I got from following the American League. Actually, that's not true. I have enjoyed following the other contenders in the AL this year just because I desperately want to see them knock the Sox and Yankees off to spare us from another Northeastern (read: national) media orgy when the two teams meet again.
Anyway, Simmons has decided that, although Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are apparently book-ending Alex Rodriguez in the running for AL MVP, that's simply not enough: Johnny Damon needs to be in the picture as well. The closest analogy I can think of would be Ronald Reagan waking up on the morning after Election Day 1984 and whining that he didn't win Minnesota and the District of Columbia. You would think, based on Simmons' list and his bitched-about omission that the Yankees and Red Sox are both 75-40 and coasting towards the playoffs. Would you believe that they don't have the best record in the AL? Or that they are essentially equivalent to the A's and Angels in terms of wins and losses?
My major problem with Simmons' reasoning is this: it ought to be damned near impossible for a player on a team with a payroll in the Yankees/Red Sox stratosphere to ever win the MVP because their teams have so much talent that no one player is irreplaceable. Simmons himself admits that Ortiz and Ramirez are essentially redundant, save for the fact that Manny is bad-crazy and Ortiz is good-crazy. And how does one distinguish A-Rod from Sheffield or Matsui? Now, take a gander at the Angels' stats and notice how integral to their success Vlad Guerrero is. And then add in the fact that he's a defensive asset, unlike just about everyone else on the list, other than A-Rod. And are you telling me that we can't find a single MVP candidate from the best team in the AL? Is Paul Konerko's .898 OPS and 30 homers not enough for you?
And one other problem that causes me to question his judgment: he describes Johnny Damon going over the fence to pull back a homer in Tampa. I remember that game (mainly because ESPN seemed to be playing the highlights on a continuous loop) and unless Damon is as tall as Georghe Muresan and can jump like Josh Smith, he didn't pull back a home run, since the outfield walls at Tropicana Field are 9'5 and 11'4. Damon got back to the wall, waited, and timed an unremarkable jump to catch the ball. It was a very good play, but Simmons tries to turn it into some sort of Junior-Griffey-in-his-prime feat of stunning athleticism. And for G-d sakes, do we really want to give out the MVP based on a win over the Devil Rays?