The other day, one of the commenters suggested that Andrew McCutchen looked like a front-runner for the MVP award. It was an innocent-enough remark, probably nothing that most of us haven't thought. But I felt compelled to (mildly, I think) harsh the buzz. Why, I asked, can't we just wait until the season's over and worry about who the MVP is then? Who cares who the frontrunner is now, or was a month ago?
Now I wasn't TRYING to be an ***hole, at least I don't think I was. OK, maybe I was. So I owe the commenter an apology. I'm sorry.
But I thought I'd elaborate a little on what set me off, for anybody who cares and is still reading at this point.
I have no problem when a question like, "Who are the top MVP candidates?" comes up spontaneously. Three or four guys go to a game and talk about it between innings, somebody raises the question on a blog, that's all well and good. To quote Graham Parker, I can't see the point (since they don't give our trophies for the MVP through July) but I see the attraction. Something to talk about during the dead spots of a game, between games on a blog.
But for awhile now I've begun to feel that debates on issues like that are arising less spontaneously than that they're being forced upon us. Well, we're at the one-quarter/halfway/two-thirds point of the season, time to pull out the MVP/Cy Young debate and stir up the rabble again. Everybody: Argue about the 81-game MVP!
I look at the avalanche of stuff like power rankings and watch lists and crap like that as a signal that somebody thinks we should be debating stuff ALL THE DAMN TIME, whether we want to or not, whether there's any need to or not. As if every waking moment needs to be like sports talk radio. One example: Not long ago, The Associated Press decided to do a weekly NFL poll, ranking the pro teams like they do the college teams. And then use their own (self-serving) rankings as a basis for their stories. It wasn't enough to have, say, Indianapolis against Pittsburgh, it was No. 3 Indianapolis against No. 6 Pittsburgh.
I don't think that took off so much (which won't stop AP from doing it, I'm sure; not many polls ever go away [RIP UPI]).Still, the absurdity of that, the pointlessness of it, EXCEPT TO PROVOKE ARGUMENTS, just grates at me more and more. (And I'm nothing if not an argumentative old cuss, but on MY schedule and MY topics, dammit.) And yet we get that kind of thing foisted on us all the time now (and maybe we always did, but it seems to me like we existed quite well for a century with the only relevant polls* the ones for college football and basketball). We get preseason all-conference teams, and midseason all-conference teams and all-star teams and on and on. What could possibly be the point? We get preseason rankings for every team in every sport in every conference. What could be more useless? Wait ... preseason freshman/rookie of the year. That could. Take somebody who has never played a game at that level and make him/her a star already.
I know I shouldn't get so agitated at such fluff and nonsense. I know I'm free to ignore the preseason Big 12 volleyball coaches poll as much as I like. I know I'm just old and cranky.
I just wonder if anyone else feels the same way.
Or ... feel free to argue with me.
*--Relevant because there was a time when they didn't settle the national basketball championship on the court, much less the football championship. So there was room for some legitimate debate. Now, of course, we're going to settle the last relevant pollable title on the field, rendering weekly (and especially post-playoff, perhaps THE most useless of the useless) polls even more pointless.