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In the wrong hands

Posted by Charles P. Pierce November 20, 2008 05:59 AM

Well, heavens to J.P. Morgan, it seems that down there in Dallas, Mark Cuban, aka The World's Smartest Human, has run afoul of the good folks at the Securities and Exchange Commission. I'm sure that this is just an oversight on everyone's part and that TWSH will fight this egregious witch hunt righteously until the very moment at which he can get out of the whole mess by writing a very big check. Then he can go back to blogging relentlessly about the genius it takes to put together a basketball franchise that makes the Western Conference finals nearly every season. Heís certainly not going to be anywhere near the Chicago Cubs anytime soon, and that is a good thing for baseball, the Cubs, and intelligent public discourse generally.

(Itís long past time for some enterprising Internet panjandrum to put together a celebrity blog-off between Cuban and local cyber fave Curt Schilling on the following proposition: Resolved: I Are Smarter Than All Them Media. The decision of the judges will be final as soon as they stop laughing.)

Speaking, as my friend Roy Blount once put it, of things in the wrong hands, I am right in the middle of my annual celebration of the baseball awards season being almost over. Look, when it comes to the media, I am one. A medium, that is. This does not mean that I can communicate with the dead. I canít talk to Jason Varitekís batting average for you. But it does mean that I have little patience for the recreational media-bashing beloved of radio hosts, bloggers, and politicians looking for something to do between bribes. However, it also means that I can indulge in a little of my own. Itís time for people in my business to get out of the business of handing out baseballís awards for it.

When did this become part of the deal? This isnít the case in any other field. Movie critics alone donít choose who wins the Oscars. Wolf Blitzer doesnít get to give out the Silver Star. On purely ethical grounds, the idea of reporters handing out the official awards on behalf of the institution they cover ó awards, mind you, that provide considerable material benefits to the people who win them ó is grotesquely improper enough to make Jayson Blair look like John Peter Zenger.

Beyond that, however, the awards annually turn loose a torrent of stupid that takes months to slow to a trickle again. Every year, we get an extended exercise in Jesuitical pondering over issues such as ďWhat does the Ďvaluableí in Most Valuable Player really mean?Ē Then we find out that, for example, in the case of Manny Ramirez, the real question is, ďWhat does Ďvaluableí mean among players who have played most of the season with the same team?Ē In response, a brief hypothetical: Say youíre on a four-stop flight to Rangoon. Somewhere over the Indian Ocean, the cabin catches fire. One of the passengers smothers the fire with his body, saving 150 people and an untold number of tiny bags of salted almonds. Turns out he only came aboard for the final leg of the flight. Who is the most valuable passenger?

We further get earnest disquisitions over whether itís harder to manage a talented team than an untalented team, so should Joe Expectorate, whose team won the pennant by 13 games, be the Manager of the Year, even though he was handed a team youíd have to be a ring-tailed lemur or Don Zimmer to screw up? Or should it go to Mike Phlegm-brain, who won 83 games while managing a collection of drunks, stumblebums, horse thieves, and sheep stealers? Who knows? Who cares? Both of them are only their No. 1 starterís rotator cuff away from coaching third base in Visalia next season. And this is not even to get into the burlesque contrarianism by which no pitcher can ever be the Most Valuable Player, even though that is precisely what they are by any empirical measure as soon as the free-agent bazaar opens for business, or by which it is improper for anyone to be a unanimous anything because Joe DiMaggio never was or some such nonsense, or by which pure, rank homerism is given one final mighty yahoo before they lock up the ballpark for the year. This is not a job for grown-ups. Itís an exercise in childish twittery. This distinguishes it from the job of voting for Baseballís Hall of Fame, which is an exercise in childish, self-important twittery.

(Yo, folks, the Hall of Fame is a museum, OK? Itís for old things and dead people. Itís an attic with interactive games and overpriced souvenirs. Itís not a test of character, and youíre not searching the world for the next Dalai Lama.)

So, I am often asked, who should do it if the writers donít? My answer is, always, I donít care. Bob Costas seems a bit busy, but if he wants to do it himself every year, Iím fine with that. Iím fine with walking a ballot over to C.F. Donovanís in Savin Hill and taking a poll of the first 12 people who walk through the door. Maybe we should let Cuban and Schilling fight over it. Iím reasonably sure they might have opinions theyíd like to share.

OT columnist Charles P. Pierce is a Boston Globe Magazine staff writer.

2 comments so far...
  1. ironic, a guy who gives his opinion for a living lampooning those who are opinionated. oh, that's right, he gets paid for his. he's a professional opinionater.

    Posted by benjikaye22 November 21, 08 01:51 PM
  1. Good read

    Posted by Pierre November 22, 08 01:46 PM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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