|Cabrera and Trout are both great MVP candidates, and there is no wrong answer. (US Presswire)|
Did you know that if you support Mike Trout for AL MVP you are a pencil-necked geek who wears pocket protectors and never leaves your mother's basement? Not that you'd need to, because you have no life and can't even get a single date.
Did you know that if you support Miguel Cabrera for AL MVP it's only because you aren't sophisticated enough to understand why you are supposed to support Trout -- because he's the only reasonable selection -- and you are only creating cherry-picked arguments to support your preconceived agenda?
I mean, that's what I've heard over the past month from message boards and social media, and it's risen to a fever pitch the past few days, what with Cabrera chasing the Triple Crown and both the Angels and Tigers chasing the playoffs.
Make no mistake, there are still people who make reasoned, rational arguments without insulting those who dare to dissent, but they are becoming the exception to the rule. These days, for many, it's all about name-calling and embarrassing those who happen to have a different opinion on a vote that is subjective.
One of the most recent examples came from ESPN's Rob Parker, who put on an embarrassing display of prepubescent chest-pounding after he debated noted sabermetic-inclined analyst Keith Law on the air. Witness:
To all the stat-geeks that follow @keithlaw: please put ur calculators down and watch the damn game. That's why the A's haven't won jack.— Rob Parker (@RobParkerESPN) September 26, 2012
Where's my pocket protector, glasses, laptop and another date-less night? I wanna fit in. Lol— Rob Parker (@RobParkerESPN) September 26, 2012
Of course, part of the argument for Cabrera for MVP includes batting average (which is computed with a calculator), home runs and RBI. Those are all stats.
Sidenote: I don't follow blowhards like Parker on Twitter. I only noticed this because A's starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy was retweeting (and mocking) Parker.
I do think it's funny that the people who hate the sabermetic crowd go to the whole "nerd" argument so quickly and love to act like none of those guys ever have played the game or gotten a date. I mention this here because McCarthy is a well-documented sabermetics guy. He's also a good starting pitcher in, you know, the freaking major leagues and has a hot wife. So ... yeah, good argument, Rob!
But here's the thing: The stat crowd can be just as aggravating with the mud-slinging. It's just in the opposite manner. If the Parker crowd is the eighth-grade bully who is really just not smart enough to formulate a real argument, some of the sabermetric crowd is the snooty, elitist Harvard grad who scoffs at anyone who dares to disagree with an opinion of his.
And I keep going back to this. It's a subjective vote.
Yet over the past week I've seen sabermetric guys picking apart every single possible argument for Cabrera like they are debating dominating a court case. I saw one writer bring up the "character" clause of the MVP voting standards, wondering aloud if Cabrera's DUI history should factor in (even though it's a yearly award and Cabrera has no DUIs this year). I've seen writers mention that the voting rules say a player "need not come from a playoff team," while neglecting to mention that the language doesn't say a voter is not allowed to factor in whether or not the MVP comes from a playoff team. There are accusations that Cabrera supporters are only cherry-picking the stats that help Cabrera and ignoring the stats that hurt Cabrera. (Meanwhile, some Trout-supporting arguments are also cherry-picked, such as the Cabrera-DUI example).
And on and on and on we go, being bludgeoned over the head with screaming from both sides. The funny thing is: Both sides have very good points. And it's a subjective vote. That means it's an opinion. Opinions can't be wrong. It's not possible. Whatever happened to respectful disagreement? Yes, there are still some who respectfully disagree, but it seems more and more we've moved toward screaming at anyone who disagrees. We've gone from:
• Socrates: "True wisdom is knowing that you know nothing."
• Some in Trout camp: "If you disagree with me, you aren't sophisticated enough to figure out the right answer, so I will just smugly mock you on Twitter. And you probably won't even understand it."
• Some in Cabrera camp: "If you disagree with me, it's only because I'm far more cool than you are, you geek. Put down your calculator and actually watch a game."
Are we all becoming so arrogant that this is where we are?
Actually, I'd answer no. Not everyone is near that level of arrogance, thankfully. There are plenty of people still capable of having respectful disagreements on this and other issues. Those who are making arguments rationally and respectfully are exempt from everything I've written above. But we are becoming the minority rather quickly. It's too bad, because discussing -- and arguing about -- baseball is so fun when it's done with pure focus on baseball, instead of trying to insult those on the opposite side.
As for where I stand, I'm open to either argument at this point. I'm not afraid to take sides (I took Matt Kemp's side last season in the NL MVP race), but I'd like to see how these next six days play out. We have two great MVP candidates going down to the wire, so my simple request is: Enjoy it rather than making it into a pissing contest.
I will say this: Trout's superiority to Cabrera defensively and on the basepaths means something. But what if we witness the first Triple Crown since 1967? History has to mean something, right?
It will be fun to see how it plays out. It won't be fun sorting through all the name-calling and accusations to find real, substantive arguments.