Robinson Cano won his 4th consecutive Silver Slugger (5th of his career) for being the best offensive 2nd baseman in the AL, at least according to the voters on the awards committee, sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Well deserved once again, this year batting .314, with 27 home runs and 107 RBIs. Honestly, the competition at 2nd in the AL is really down to just a couple of guys, and let’s be honest when it’s not Cano, it’s usually the Red Sox’s Pedroia. Since Pedroia took home the Gold Glove last week, perhaps it’s only fair that Cano took this one. Actually, it kind of lends itself to the kind of 2nd basemen they are; perhaps together they are more like Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, or even Jackie Robinson.
Again, I’m about half-and-half on the results of these awards. It’s always subjective at the end of the day, as the results aren’t always fully in line with what statistics say is the best. Some people consider that a little “old-school”, and maybe it is. But there are things that the statistics can’t capture, the intangibles — the heart, the integrity, the dynamics of the player himself. Sure, the statistics are great to show the accomplishments as a whole, but the fans don’t show up for the numbers they flash on the screen. No, they show up for the player they love and can root for, the guy they consider a great guy on and off the field, the lasting and continuing legacy of a team. And if his numbers are really great, it’s icing on the cake, part of conversations about his possible trip to Cooperstown someday.
One of these days, I’m going to have to do an editorial of sorts (or maybe a series) about the evolution of baseball from the Strike of 1994 to now because I think so many things have been applied to baseball that just aren’t true. Part of building a fan base is knowing your fan base. Like a year ago, most of the Yankee hometown fan base was still in recovery from Sandy. How did the club respond? By holding clothing and food drives and aiding physically and financially in the Red Cross and local recovery effort. When tragedy struck again in December in Newtown, the Yankees again reached out to their community helping out wherever they could, sponsoring a Newtown Day at the stadium, and continuing to support their community.
Maybe that’s why these awards never feel just right (though sometimes it’s hard to complain). The fans aren’t voting for their favorite player because instead the committee is “unbiased” former players or sportswriters or executives or someone else. And maybe a fan vote wouldn’t be “fair”, but rather popularity-based (as we get with the All-Star Game), but I think the fans feel a little gyped with these post-season awards.
Instead, maybe the fans need to remember that they get to speak with their dollars and buy season tickets or some ticket package. Make plans now to attend as many games as possible to use your voice to vote for your favorite club. But like I always say, don’t just go to a professional game (that can be hefty on your wallet), attend minor league games, little league games, workplace softball tournaments, whatever. There’s nothing like a baseball game. So if you’re a fan, vote with your dollars to bring baseball back to the forefront of American pastimes again.
And now, I’m craving a crappy hot dog, cheap beer, and cold bleacher seats while cheering on my team. But that will have to wait a few months. March will be here before we know it.