Thursday, August 14, 2008
Allow me to introduce myself: I am what one might call a "pot-stirrer". I'm constantly surrounded by fans of Ohio sports teams yet I hate all of them (except for my Cavs, Mo Williams = championship?). Thus, I am forced to listen to the mindless drivel regarding "next year is our year" and "we've got some real talent in the minors" and "I root for Ohio State, do you want to fight me and my ten friends". This baseball season, though, has been a nice change of pace. The Reds and Indians are arguably the two worst teams in their respective leagues and their fans have long since begun talking only of football. But there is one turd that has risen above the punchbowl this season and that man is Cliff Lee.
Barring some catastrophic misfortune the likes of which have never been seen before, Lee is going to win the Cy Young award in the American League. The only real competition, in my opinion, was squashed Tuesday night by Mariano Rivera blowing his first save of the year (the competition being Mike Mussina, who was also left for dead this offseason much like Lee, and not Mo). So let's all agree that Clifton Lee is going to win this award. And I really hate to admit that, too, because I've always felt that he sucks. The guy was pitching in Buffalo last year for God's sake! The point of today's post is to determine if Lee would be the worst recipient of the Cy Young Award since my birth in 1980. The contenders:
1981 Fernando Valenzuela (Dodgers), 13-7, 2.48
How did they let this happen? Obviously, I was only 1 during this season, but how can a pitcher with only 13 wins be named the best? Was the National League just as shitty then as it is now? Valenzuela was a fairly solid pitcher over the course of his career but I think he ate himself out of the league. But that's what happens when you smother yourself in guacamole before you take the bump every 5 days.
2003 Eric Gagne (Dodgers), 55 saves, 1.20
Don't get me wrong, this was a season of complete DOMINATION for the French Canadian. But knowing now about what he did to himself back then, it puts a massive red flag on annointing Gagne's 2003 season as immortal as far as closers go. Even setting aside the fact that he did copious amounts of performance-enhancing drugs, it's been less than 5 years and he's now one of the worst relievers in the sport. At least we always knew that Bobby Thigpen was incredibly lucky, Gagne had us fooled back then.
1993 Jack McDowell (White Sox), 22-10, 3.37
I actually kind of liked McDowell but I can pinpoint exactly when he lost his confidence as a pitcher. When he was with the Yankees and gave up the hit in the '95 ALDS to Edgar Martinez to lose the series...ugh, that was the last time that a sporting event made me cry. I'm serious, it broke my heart. Anyway, he is also known for flipping off the Yankee faithful after getting his ass boo'ed off the field after one dreadful start. As far as his Cy Young season, any time you have double digit losses, you shouldn't get the award. I like the name "Jack McDowell" though; kind of makes him sound like an Irish assassin or some other cool job.
1996 Pat Hentgen (Blue Jays), 20-10, 3.22
I've been sitting at my desk for the last 15 minutes trying to figure out how Pat Hentgen won a Cy Young award. I mean, just on face value, the numbers are pretty good. But how could anyone devalue their vote by saying "Yep, Hentgen is the best pitcher in the league this season". I don't even think that the Jays were good that season (I will absolutely not research stats of the '96 Blue Jays). This is about as bad as Pat Listach winning Rookie of the Year as far as the "some random guy coming out of nowhere" scenario goes.
2002 Barry Zito (A's), 23-5, 2.75
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I am old enough to remember when Zito was actually a frontline starting pitcher in baseball. I'm not joking, kids, it's true. Now you young punks only know him as the worst starter in baseball over the past two years, but it happened. Zito had great numbers that season but has managed to get worse and worse with each dollar he makes. It's bizarre. No, not that he sucks, but that his agent conned some stupid GM into giving his client 126 million.
2005 Bartolo Colon (Angels), 21-8, 3.48
This fat fuck should have never won it in the first place. If Colon was the best option that the AL had, they should have just abstained from giving out the award that year. The guy has always been in worse physical shape than David Wells. He pitched in goddamn Pawtucket for a stretch this year and he's about as durable as one-ply toilet paper. Like I said, they should have just sat on the award that year and given two awards to Johan Santana in 2006. You know, like a Cy Young Skins game. That would have made more sense than honoring baseball's version of country virtuoso, Roy Clark.
So where does Clifton from Benton, Arkansas stack up amongst these titans? I actually have to eat some crow here because looking at Lee's numbers over his entire career, he really isn't that bad. I think he's something like 30 games over .500 which absolutely blew my mind. Now he is absolutely not a great pitcher and definitely hasn't earned the right to have his career validated with this award, but looking at some of the wastes that have won this before, he definitely isn't the worst. I guess if I had to rank these 7 from not deserving to a complete fucking embarrassment to the game, I would go:
McDowell, Valenzuela, Lee, Hentgen, Gagne, Zito, and The Dominican Michelin Man, Colon
So there you go, Tribe fans. This is me throwing you a bone. I am admitting that Cliff Lee is not nearly as bad as I thought he was. There have been much, much worse. Now you can all sit back and enjoy this post for the next 11 months before the next fire sale that GM Mark Shapiro throws.