Kirk Gibson Doesn’t Move His Arms, Kevin Durant, Ralph Kiner and Branch Rickey

Let's Get on with these playoffs already!!

Let’s get on with these playoffs already!!

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKFeeling a bit Lewis Black-ish curmudgeonly, I have to ask: Holy crap, do we really need 38-win teams getting into the playoffs just so minor league, yokel towns like Charlotte can host a real live NBA playoff game or two?  Why? Who wins? And then in the midst of this faux playoff nonsense, someone had the bright idea to give out the year’s hardware on an off-day between the first and second rounds of these interminable playoffs. The NBA should get their season and postseason over around April 1st. Where is that spy Chuck Barris? Get down so the big boys can take center stage!

Ah… Now I feel better.

Jimmy DuranteKevin Durant is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2013-2014 Season.  [Yawn]. Durant scored a whole bunch of points during the season. [Yawn more]. He did this while his “running mate” Russell Westbrook ( a more talented player), was out with an injury for a month and change. And Durrant, not to be confused with Jimmy Durante, gives the Networks a reason to televise games played in Oklahoma City, for crissakes.  Oklahoma is known for 3 things: Its NBA teamOU football and mobile crystal meth labs – the most per capita in the US.  Now they can throw the stat-happy Durant on that pile… who, by the way, was enormously gracious and heartfelt when accepting the award this week. But was Durant actually deserving of this award? And what really constitutes an MVP? The debate has raged for decades in Major League Baseball, but other sports are not immune from this discourse.

Durant scored points in volume and the Thunder won a lot of regular season games.  Is he really the most valuable, though?  Is he really the best player in the NBA?  I think we’d all agree that LeBron James is easily the best player on the planet, and like Michael Jordan a generation ago, giving the award to anyone other than him was folly.

Please, Mr. Rickey?

Please, Mr. Rickey?

It was the late, great Ralph Kiner who told the wonderful story of hitting 47 Home Runs during the 1950 baseball season. He drove in 127 runs that year too, a typically eye popping offensive output from him. At the season’s conclusion, Kiner was summoned to then Pirates GM Branch Rickey’s office to discuss a contract for the following season. Kiner went in and asked for a 10% raise based on the great season he had just finished. Rickey asked Kiner where the Pirates had finished in the standing in 1950, to which Ralph quickly replied, “8th place.” Rickey then told Kiner that they could just as easily have finished in 8th place without Kiner too!  Kiner’s request was denied by Rickey and he was given a one year contract for the 1951 season for the exact amount he had earned in 1950. $65,000.

Using the Rickey modelreally does separate the MVP from the league’s “most outstanding player” or stats leader. In 1987, Andre Dawson was the National League MVP after hitting 49 HRs and knocking in 137 runs. Incredible numbers for sure. But his Cubs team that season won just 75 games and finished in dead last in the NL East. Was he really the “most valuable?” The very next season saw Kirk Gibson win the MVP award in the NL, but that year, the Baseball writers got it right. Gibson’s final totals were somewhat ordinary for an MVP winner. A .290 Batting Average. 25 Homers and 76 RBIs. Those numbers were dwarfed by the Mets’ dynamic duo of stone faced Kevin McReynolds and just plain stoned Darryl Strawberry that year. The Mets are still looking for their first MVP… Gibson though, even with his modest numbers, was truly the “Most Valuable player in the National League that season. Yet today, he walks without moving his arms –see below. That was Courageous Kirk’s first season with LA and along with Orel Hershiser, carried his team to a 21-win improvement, changed the culture of the team and literally carried the Dodgers to a World Series title… upsetting the Mets and the Sandy Alderson-architected Oakland A’s along the way.

NOTE: Alex Rodriguez went 47 and 118 to win the AL MVP in 2003 for a Texas Rangers team that won only 71 games…

They don't come any douchier than me!

They don’t come any douchier than me!

Also, I find it troubling that one of these days, another Colorado Rockies player will win the award (Larry Walker won in 1987 for Colorado) and screw things up forever. As great a player as Troy Tulowitski is, he has shown to be much closer to mortal on the road. His teammates have even greater disparities in their home/road splits statistically. Playing baseball in an altitude a Mile High is simply not baseball.  I give gaudy stats accumulated in Denver no credibility at all…

Last but not least…

The great Derek Jeter has never won an MVP.  The award should be named for him! 5 World Series titles, 7 total WS appearances – it screams for it.  Jeets was and is only about value to his team.

The NFL probably gets it right more often than not in handing out the hardware. They typically give the MVP to either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, and hope for the best.  Of course, they also employ Mike Mayock... so you know, nobody’s perfect.

Cookies Corner and that elusive MTM Radio Podcast tomorrow?

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About the Author ()

Big Al Sternberg/Fake Sandy Alderson is from a not-so-nice part of Queens. But through grit and elbow-grease finds himself living on Long Island with his bride and twin 12-year-old sons. He is a sports encyclopedia… and a loose cannon. In fact, Michael Baron of blocked him on Twitter. You can find The Blocked One’s Tweets here: @AldersonFake

  • OldManRivers

    Didn’t Gooden win the MVP? Seaver? They should have if they didn’t.

    • You’d think that guys with the names names Lord Charles and The Franchise associated with them would have won. Imagine those teams without them… You’d have… well… what you’ve got now!

  • FakeSandyAlderson

    No Met has ever won the MVP award. The Mets have had 3 pitchers win a total of 5 Cy Young awards. And judging by this year’s team….there’ll be no MVP this year either.

    • bosoxbruins04

      You get the MVP for putting Jimmy Durante in this. Very funny.

      • Inka dinka doo… Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

    • Don’t count out Wilmer Flores!

  • Cheesybruin

    FSA, I like this debatable topic of MVP candidates from dreckie teams. Recently, it seems as though the Cy Young voting has made a shift from win-based criteria to a hurler’s entire body of work (ERA, run support, WHIP, etc.) and maybe MVP voting will soon follow suit.

  • WestCoastCraig

    Gibson does look like a human bobble head. I just looked up the 1988 MVP voting…apart from Strawberry’s blowing away the field in HRs with 39, his and Gibson’s stats were pretty similar, with Gibson actually getting more steals. That hobbled old white guy had 31! What a different game it was in the 80s. Hershiser probably should have won it anyway–what could possibly be more valuable to a team than 15 complete games and 8 shutouts?–but that’s another silly quirk of the MV (offensive only, thank you, except for Dennis Eckersly three years later) P voting.

    Wasn’t it Kevin Durant who, before kicking the bucket, told everyone to look under a big W?

    • AngryWard

      No you’ve done it. I’m gonna have to watch “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Would be a good thing to do tonight rather than listening to the likes of Chris Berman and Mel Kiper Jr. filling dead air with a bunch of bs about some offensive lineman from Bumfuck State who is single-handedly going to turn the Cleveland Browns around,

  • Junoir Blaber

    Good article FSA and there is a rugby link. The MLB version of English Rugby, there is a guy on the last place team in the league, so bad that they are being dropped to triple-A since they finishes last, as that is what happens when you are last in England. Anyway this guy is on the current shortlist for player of the year. The argument is that there are better players on better teams that achieved more. While others say this guy was singlehandedly carrying the team and if he had as much help as the other guys on the list, he would look even better. I always go for the great player on a bad team, as long as it is not an A-Rod type situation.

  • Cookies Corner

    I think Jeter does deserve an MVP.. and it’s a shame it’s not gonna happen. This being his last year… if he makes it through healthy (knock wood everyone), it’ll be something to be grateful for.

    • AngryWard

      It’s shocking to me that Jeter never won an MVP. Apparently chicks and baseball writers dig the long ball.

  • DJ Eberle

    I mean… You had to give KD the MVP award after a tremendous year. He had that great streak of 41 straight games for 25+ points this season. As much as I love LeBron, KD deserves it.

    • AngryWard

      I get the LeBron argument but agree with DJ that Durant is also one helluva player. Can’t really take issue with him winning an mvp.

  • jgclancy

    The good news is that Mets are still only 2 1/2 games out of first…the bad news is that they ARE the Mets.

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