Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scoop being ... dumb?

I nominate Manny Ramirez as the man who spawned the most articles in 2008. Favre is second. The Mets and their "collapse" are third. But all this "Manny for MVP" talk is getting to the point where I think he's going to win the damn thing.

Which would be insane.

No, not him. Anybody but him.

You can already hear it. Welcome to late September. There it goes: "Manny Aristides Ramirez, the 2008 NL MVP." That's a hard one to absorb, ain't it? Maybe too big a blue pill to swallow. Especially if you live outside the 323 area code. "That dude being honored as the MVP? Over our dead bodies." Let the church say, Amen!

Well … ... The case should be closed.

There really should be no talk about anyone else. Guy who's played 48 games for a team in a league with Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and a ton of other dudes who played the whole season in their league is unquestionably the MVP?


But since it's not,

Oh, OK.

let's crunch some numbers of the players mentioned most often as MVP candidates:

• Ryan Howard: .245 BA/46 HR/141 RBI/.334 OBP/.529 SLG/.863 OPS

• Carlos Delgado: .273 BA/37 HR/110 RBI/.355 OBP/.521 SLG/.875 OPS

• Albert Pujols: .348 BA/34 HR/106 RBI/.453 OBP/.631 SLG/1.084 OPS

All seem like fine gentlemen, worthy of the MVP. And Pujols is a monster - no, a demon - and should win it going away.

All three front-running candidates for NL MVP have offensive numbers that extend over the entire season, not just the 48 games Ramirez has played since he slipped on Lasorda blue.

But without even getting caught up in the .399 batting average, the 16 home runs and 49 RBIs he's put up since his Red Sox divorce -- or the .493 on-base percentage, .751 slugging percentage and 1.243 OPS -- his season-long numbers provide a part of the story that most are missing (Fox's Mark Kriegel made a similar argument).

Before reading the rest of this I knew, that even combining his numbers from each league, he is nowhere close to Pujols.

Prove me wrong.

• Albert Pujols: .348 BA/34 HR/106 RBI/.453 OBP/.631 SLG/1.084 OPS
• Manny Ramirez: .331 BA/36 HR/117 RBI/.429 OBP/.600 SLG/1.030 OPS

Oh, so across the board worse (or very close) than Pujols? Cool. MVP. Done and done.

When compared to Pujols, it's like trying to tell the difference between Henry Paulsen and Arthur Slugworth.

What? Is that the dude from "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory?"

Then there's that small thing called "impact." Some call it "making the players around you better"; others say "making your team better." Of all the aforementioned MVP candidates listed, none has impacted their team the way Manny has the Dodgers. This is the one factor that sets him apart from all the other pretenders in this year's race.

I call it "bullshit," "bunk," "hooey," "poppycock," "hackitudinal writing" and "fucking wrong."

How about Ryan Ludwick (35) and former pitcher Rick Ankiel (25) bombing? Or Delgado coming into his own and being a threat to help out Reyes, Wright and Beltran?

True, it's only been 48 games of impact, but he's done more for one team in 48 games than any of the others have done (with possible the exception of Pujols) over the season.

So Manny's 48-game impact is more than Pujols 162-game impact? Manny is more than three times as valuable as Pujols? You're full of shit.

More numbers:

6: Number of games the Dodgers have played over .500 since Manny arrived.
.500: Dodgers winning percentage before Manny joined the team.
.519: Dodgers winning percentage today.

WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Six games over .500?! What a hero. How did they play .500 without him?

Oops. They did.

Could that .019% difference be that it's a smaller sample than the previous 100+ games?


2: Number of games the Dodgers were out of first place when Manny got there.
2: Number of games they now lead the NL West.

All Manny's doing. Nothing to do with D-Backs playing like fecal matter.

.274: Andre Ethier's batting average July 31.
.361: Andre Ethier's batting average since Manny joined the lineup (of late, Ethier has been hitting second, Ramirez third).

"A number, after three months of the season."
"A higher number, during 1-1/2 months of the season."

Facts: absent.

16-5: Dodgers' record since Jeff Kent was injured Aug. 29.
25: The number Andruw Jones wears for the Dodgers that Manny has mercifully made you forget.

Har har.

Jeff Kent's an ass.

Ramirez himself told the Los Angeles Times, "It's nice that some people think I deserve [the MVP]. I'd like to win it, but I have to be realistic. Someone who was only here for two months doesn't deserve it. It should go to someone who played the six months of the season."

Gotta love political correctness. But Manny himself is wrong in his episode of humility. He has played all six months; it just hasn't been with the same team or in the same league. He's produced. Plain and simp. He's put up the numbers over the course of the entire season (148 games played and counting) that are on par with if not superior to any player up for the honor.

Funny thing is it's not the MLB MVP, it's the NL or AL MVP, of which Manny does not deserve either.

Then he came. And all of a sudden everything changed. With an extremely heavy emphasis on the word "everything."

And here's one more number to think about:

Let me guess. It's going to be about that unquantifiable "it" - the thing that no one understands, but is integral is writing about good players. Jeter's got it. Big Papi's got it. A-Rod? No fuckin' way. Manny? Didn't, until now - that non-hustling jerkface.

But now, look the fuck out, Manny is awesome.

You can't see it, can you? It's there. It's that invisible, impossible-to-define-or-determine number that represents the intangible. That invisible number that changes the culture of a team inside a clubhouse and spreads itself over an entire city. It's that number that helps makes major league baseball better and so interesting.

If anything, this makes baseball annoying.

The idea that Manny's mojo -not his numbers - made the Dodgers better and makes him the MVP is idiotic. His numbers are very good, but they just are not better than Pujols. Plain and simple.

But he sold jerseys! People come to the games! He's got dreads! He's funny!

If Manny and CC win the MVP and Cy, I will quit following baseball. There would officially be no justice in this world.

That said, they both are probably going to win.

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