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Friday, September 4, 2009
Give Jeter the Irving Thalberg


I told you this would happen: Two things here.

One, it's not really enough to list other closers who have won Cy Young Awards. You have to demonstrate that all of those other closers really weren't as good as Rivera this year (which is arguable, considering that all of them pitched significantly more innings than Rivera will). And you have to at least ask whether or not those other closers deserved to win (probably not). As for Colon, no he shouldn't have won the Cy Young Award in 2005 but then, neither should Rivera. That one should have gone to Johan Santana.

Onward:

Ah, the Cy Young as proxy for a Lifetime Achievement Award. My friend Allen Barra recently took the same tack in arguing for Derek Jeter's MVP candidacy. Barra even came up with a precedent: the Oscars: Today I would like to wrestle this lifetime achievement meme to the ground and strangle the life out of it forever. For one thing, the Oscars are utterly subjective and if a voter wants to give Newman or Scorsese a few points of extra credit to balance past injustices, why not? I wouldn't do it, myself. But I don't have any real issue with the impulse because there would have been something wrong if Scorsese had never won.

Baseball's different, though. Award voting is (or should be) mostly objective, with little room for sentiment. Just give the thing to the best player, you know? More to the point, baseball has a Lifetime Achievement Award: it's called the Hall of Fame, and Derek Jeter will be there one day.

Just give the things to the best guys. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are both enjoying wonderful seasons that rank among their very best. Neither of them really are the best guys this year.