Hopelessly De-Voted To Who? Get The Media Out Of Picking Winners
The election was fixed.
No, this is not a test of the Donald Trump Emergency Warning System. We are referring to the heist perpetrated in full view last week on Detroit Tigers star Justin Verlander. Verlander, who fashioned a 16-9 record and had the lowest ERA (3.04) for the Tigers, was denied the America League Cy Young Award by a voting scam perpetrated by two voters who failed to put Verlander in their top five selections for the award.
As a result of Fred Goodall of the Associated Press and Bill Chastain of MLB.com, Boston’s Rick Porcello (a former teammate of Verlander in Detroit) took home the prestigious award and the financial benefits that come from winning it. The larceny moved Verlander’s girlfriend, actress Kate Upton, to issue a Twitter blast saying “Hey @MLB I thought I was the only person allowed to f–k @JustinVerlander ?!”
Which might be the greatest postgame quote ever.
It’s not the first time strategic voting has denied a deserving player of a top award. I can remember being with Jarome Iginla, then playing for the Calgary Flames, when he learned that he’d have to share the 2002 Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player with Montreal’s goalie José Theodore.
How did the tie occur? A Montreal writer allegedly voting on the award failed to put Iginla, a 52-goal scorer that year, on his ballot. Thus, the hometown garden de but could get a piece of the prize.
So far as can be told, there never was, nor will be, any repercussions for the so-called journalists who executed the scheme to deny a player from a rival city the top award. At least in Major League Baseball the identity of the two jerks was made public. In the NHL voters are granted anonymity under the laughable notion that certain media geniuses need privacy to render an honest vote. Transparency only counts in Saran Wrap for the NHL and its members of the fourth estate.
The real question in all of this is not how to discipline media members for perverting a vote (without the assistance of Donna Brazile). As I’ve written many times before, the issue is, why are media members still voting on awards in the first place? Back in the day, when writers were tin gods of the press room, it was seen not to be a conflict. In fact, it was thought to enhance the prestige (and power) of the media guys.
That was then. Print newspapers and no 24-hour news cycle. Twitter was a medium for birds, not humans. For some reason the leagues still allow these prestigious awards to be decided in the age of social media by people with absolutely no right to be doing so.
First, the sacred rule of the press box is no cheering from the denizens of the place. I can remember some withering stares from old timers when a local flack got too excited by the outcome of a game. But by the very nature of choosing between one player and not another, press people have a vested interest in the outcome, a dog in the fight. A dog who can make— or lose— a lot of money based on the outcome of the voting. Why are so-called impartial people making decisions of this nature?
Second, media are not supposed to be the story. It’s hard to remember that in this self-saturated age of outsized egos and roaring tonsils. By inserting themselves into the voting for the Hart, an MVP or a rookie of the year the writers and broadcasters have done exactly that. They’ve walked from behind the keyboard or microphone into the partisan debate on who’s better or who’s not.
Third, the leagues themselves, not the media, should run the events that honour their stars. Have a vote of players or fans or left-handed monkeys. Just don’t ask the very people who are supposed to be immune from flattery and manipulation to then do as these baseball writers or the Montreal media hacks have done.
There will be some high-hatting from media titans who think they’re still objective observers, but that is so much bunk. In getting the vote out of the press room we might lose a few choice quotes from the lovely Miss Upton, but it will be well worth the price.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy. Bruce is the host of podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. His career includes successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald and the Globe & Mail.