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Score it a tough loss to Yankees

Red Sox guy finishes second to Yankee guy in narrow MVP race. It makes us want to holler ''bag job." It just does. Especially when the Red Sox guy is the lovable David Ortiz and the Yankee guy is the smarmy, loathsome poser, Alex Rodriguez (actually, I kind of like A-Rod, but that's his image here in the hardball Hub of the universe).

Ted Williams finished second to a Yankee in MVP voting four times. When he hit .406 in 1941, he finished second to Joe DiMaggio. When he won the Triple Crown the next year, he finished second to Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon. When Ted won the Triple Crown again in 1947, he finished second again to Joe D. In 1957, Ted hit .388 but finished second to Mickey Mantle. Imagine. The Kid went 0 for 4 in MVP races in seasons in which he either won the Triple Crown or hit at least .388. Now that is ridiculous.

Then there's the case of Pedro Martinez. He had a Koufaxian summer for the Red Sox in 1999 but finished a close second in the MVP voting to Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Still, there was a New York connection. Two voters did not list Pedro in the top 10 on their ballots, claiming they didn't believe in voting for a pitcher for MVP. One of those voters writes for the New York Post and had voted for pitchers in the past. Bag job.

I remember calling Ted Williams after Pedro's narrow loss in '99. Ted said, ''Yeah, that happened to me a couple of times. I hit .400 one year. I thought that was pretty good."

Sure was, Ted.

The fact that Big Papi lost to A-Rod only makes this more infuriating for a Nation still stinging from the Sox' early exit in the playoffs and the Theo Epstein bombshell that followed. Rodriguez is hated here for many reasons, not the least of which is the idea that he got himself traded to the Yankees after trying to get himself traded to the Red Sox (come to think of it, that one was probably Larry Lucchino's fault, too). Fans still remember him jawing at Jason Varitek in the July 2004 brawl game, and then there was the night he swiped at Bronson Arroyo with his man-purse in the sixth game of the ALCS.

I would have voted for Ortiz, because I saw his season with my own eyes and it reminded me of what Carl Yastrzemski did in the Impossible Dream summer of 1967. Big Papi was Mr. Walkoff, Mr. Game Winner. He picked up where he left us off in October '04 and carried the heroics through an entire regular season.

Big Papi's stunning theatrics were not something we imagined. The numbers are there, and it's not just about leading the league with 148 RBIs and clubbing 47 homers. He got the hits that meant something. He had 21 game-winning RBIs. Nineteen of his homers and 50 of his RBIs came after the sixth inning. He hit .368 with two outs and runners in scoring position. He hit 22 homers and knocked in 60 runs over the final two months. Thirty-four of his RBIs put the Red Sox into a lead. And in the dugout and clubhouse, he was the definition of leadership.

This was a close race, A-Rod winning by 331-307. The Yankee infielder got 16 first-place votes, while Ortiz got 11. But in the end, Ortiz was denied because he doesn't carry a glove.

Fans in Boston saw Ortiz as a slam-dunk for the award, and that's only natural since they witnessed his heroics on a nightly basis. They also saw Rodriguez repeatedly fail in the clutch when the Yankees were eliminated by the Angels in the playoffs. It's important to note that postseason performance doesn't count in MVP voting. All ballots are cast before the playoffs begin.

Still, the Wall Street Journal wrote last Friday, ''Mr. Ortiz is generally considered the favorite to win his first MVP award in a close race."

I never felt optimistic about his chances because I know the way baseball writers think. Card-carrying members of the BBWAA traditionally look down at designated hitters. Don Baylor won the MVP in 1979 in a year in which he played 79 games in the outfield while serving as DH for 65. No one else has won it even as a part-time DH.

A-Rod won because even though he did not produce as many clutch hits as Ortiz, he did match the Sox slugger in almost every offensive category. He hit 20 homers and knocked in 49 runs over the final two months. In addition, he did something Ortiz did not do.

He played third base every day, probably better than anyone in the AL other than Eric Chavez.

Too bad. It's not the bag job we'd like to believe it is, but if Ortiz could not win this thing after what he did in 2005, it's unlikely a full-time DH ever will be named Most Valuable Player.

Look at the bright side, New England fans. We still have Taylor Twellman.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is

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