Season's been over for almost a month. The awards are all given out. It's not quite chilly enough outside to light up the hot stove.
Welcome to baseball's no-man's land. Thanksgiving week is usually baseball's quiet time, with things picking up again during the winter meetings (even though those have been quieter than usual the last few years). So we're looking at a quiet week, with the possibility of no real baseball news--and particularly no Yankees news, since there aren't any free agents the Yanks are clearly courting right now. I have a few film reviews stored up, so we'll start seeing those this week (reviews of Babel and Casino Royale should be up in the next 24 hours), and I'll start gearing up for a look back at the season (and forward to 2007). Otherwise, things should be rather quiet...but you never know.
So, here's a quick rundown of the scant news pickings for the week:
Anthony McCarron in the Daily News has a profile of the Yankees' new hitting coach, Kevin Long. Interesting side note from this article is that Long apparently has an existing relationship with Alex Rodriguez. This seems to follow my theory of Mattingly's bench coach assignment being more a matter of being kicked upstairs rather than a true promotion. I also wonder how much authority Long is going to have as long as the prior hitting coach--unlike Long, a former major league star--is still on the coaching roster.
You knew Derek Jeter would land on his feet. I guess it's easier to take an MVP loss when you can console yourself in the arms of Jessica Biel. And yes, if Biel wants to make out at an exhibit of religious artifacts--or during Schindler's List, the Passion of the Christ, or An Inconvenient Truth, for that matter--you make out. No questions asked.
Speaking of the MVP vote, it seems like BWAA as a whole has patched over this dead news cycle by defending themselves and their brethren from accusations of stupidity on the Jeter/Morneau vote (and to a much lesser extent on the Pujols/Howard vote). In the New York Post, Mike Vaccaro argues that Jeter is the victim of a Bronx Bias, which is an idea that has some merit. So long as Jeter's surrounded by eight-figure salaries and all-stars, folks who believe that there's an "East Coast Bias" will always have an excuse not to recognize his accomplishments.
Lightning rod Joe Cowley (no relation to the onetime Yankees pitcher of the same name) has made himself a household name for not only dropping Jeter to the sixth spot on his ballot and excluding Joe Mauer altogether, but he also gave gave A.J. Pierzynski a 10th place vote. This has, of course, led to radio appearances across the country (like this one, with Mike and the Mad Dog, hat tip to Baseball Primer) for Cowley to engage in "debate" over his choice. Cowley, a White Sox beat writer who had already had his award voting priviliges suspended once before (for making a Chicago "homer" ballot in 2003) uses his ballot to suck up to players who gave him good quotes (as, apparently, Pierzynski did) and gets to be a conversation piece for national discussion. I guess that's the way that obscure jerks like Cowley become bigger jerks like Jay Mariotti.
All of this--the articles, the radio appearances, even the outraged reaction of geeks like me on the Internets--is the point of the BWAA voting on awards. Morneau doesn't get voted in because the writers are stupid or lazy. He gets voted in because it's boring if everyone agrees who the MVP is. By making dingbat, contrarian decisions, the voters create more opportunities to bloviate about why those contrarian positions were right or wrong. There was a movie a few years ago called "Our Brand is Crisis," about James Carville and other American political consultants working on a presidential campaign in Bolivia. The BWAA's motto should be "Our Brand is Controversy."