Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Robin Yount were all first-ballot inductees in 1999. Never before had the BBWAA elected as many first-timers, with the exception of 1936 when everyone on the ballot was a first-timer. The feat has been repeated twice (so far), in 2014 (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas) and 2015 (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz). While Jim Thome and Chipper Jones appear to be first-ballot locks this year, they are not likely to be joined by Scott Rolen.
If you hadn’t noticed, the three cards of the BBWAA’s selections borrow the color scheme from 1975 Topps. With Ryan and Brett, they were exact copies, but with Yount I had to flip the light and dark colors as the name and position would have been difficult to read on the dark brown. This is not the first time I have used the 1975 color palette, nor will it be the last, but as we are moving further away from that year there will be fewer players who appeared in the 1975 set.
Jim Gilliam, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have retired only one uniform number in honor of a non-Hall of Famer: the very popular Gilliam, who served the team as player and coach during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Gilliam died in 1978 after suffering a brain hemorrhage and slipping into a coma. His uniform number was retired just two days after his death, prior to Game 1 of the 1978 World Series.
Dizzy Dean, St. Louis Cardinals
Mel Harder, Cleveland Indians
Ted Kluszewski, Cincinnati Reds
Billy Pierce, Chicago White Sox
Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians
Robin Yount, Milwaukee Brewers
Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres
That’s the only way to explain it. How else could an American League player, who has never played a single game for a National League team, win the National League Most Valuable Player award? It just doesn’t make sense.
Ryan Braun has played 729 games over five major league seasons, all for the Milwaukee Brewers. He never played for the Mets, or the Braves, or the Reds, or the Pirates, or the Dodgers, or the Giants, or the Astros, or any of the other National League teams. So how is he named the National League MVP?
Is this because of interleague play? The lines have been blurred so much that the awards are just given out to whoever the voters want to give it, regardless of what league they are actually in?
I looked at the history of the award, and no other player from the American League has ever been named the NL MVP. And, on the flipside, no player from the NL has ever been named the AL MVP. The same holds true for the Cy Young Award: every winner has been awarded the trophy for the league he actually played.
Even the last Milwaukee Brewer to be named the MVP, Robin Yount, was given the proper league’s trophy in 1989. He was the American League MVP (even if he didn’t really deserve to be).
I just don’t get it. And I blame Bud Selig.
My condolences to Matt Kemp. You, sir, were robbed.