Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Define the argument (but also, "Get off the fence!")

I just read this article about Kobe vs. LeBron for MVP, and it got me thinking about the silliness of MVP awards, just like the silliness of the Oscars.

MVP awards are among the most oft-debated topics in sportswriting and sports fandom. I have to think that on the whole this is a good thing for each sport because it gets fans to passionately discuss the issue and it gives writers something to write about. However, as a matter of "fairness," these debates are absurd.

I understand that the final vote is always going to be subjective in some way, but amazingly, as much as every writer always complains that he's not sure whether MVP means most valuable to his team or best player or highest revenue-generating (as if), no one seems to call for any reform to the process. Each writer just randomly decides on what is most important to him at that moment or thinks about which player is "due" or is a "good guy." How about actually defining the issue? The NHL certainly doesn't want to do that:

And since they don't, I'll give you my two cents. My MVP vote is based about 1/3 on who is most valuable to his team and 2/3 on who is the best player in the league (based on various stats, who would go first on the playground, ability to dominate, etc...). This way, someone like Kobe is not penalized as much for being on a much better team than Wade or LeBron, but at the same time, those guys do get credit for how much they have to carry their teams. I think Kobe would sacrifice an MVP award for a title, right?

Even if my criteria is not correct (some stathead can probably find something better/much less subjective), it would be fun to see a more well-defined race in each sport.

As for my NBA ballot? I'll be the first to admit to a bit of man crush on LeBron (for his basketball skills, mostly) and I know I'm not alone. But I also think that anyone who doesn't vote for LeBron for MVP this year is crazy. He's simply unstoppable on the court (best stats in the league/he plays defense too) and that Cavs team is gonna win 65+ games without another legit All-Star (best record in the league). Are you serious?

Rest of my ballot:

2. Wade, 3. Kobe, 4. Chris Paul, 5. Dwight Howard

PS If leagues wanted to be less subjective, they could offer a "Most Outstanding Player" award in addition to the MVP trophy. Most of the time it would be the same as MVP, but especially in baseball, I think there would be separate winners.

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