Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Flawed MVP/Hall of Fame voting

Few would doubt that Steph Curry deserved to be voted this year's NBA MVP. The numbers he put up throughout the season were phenomenal. Never before had a player made more than 300 three-point shots in a regular season. SC blew by his own record and racked up over a mind-boggling 400.

What raised more than a few eyebrows was that Curry was the first MVP ever to get 100% of the votes. Nary a single dissenter. Others had come close before (over 99%), like Jordan and James, but it was never unanimous among the voters. There was always a hold out or two. Call them "spoilers" if you will.

Much the same is true in other sports and also the Hall of Fame voting that goes along with it. Here's a few scenarios and questions to ponder.....

How could it be that George Herman Ruth got a lower percentage of HOF votes than Cal Ripken Jr.? The Babe was arguably the most iconic baseball player of all time. His feats on the diamond were legendary, especially clubbing homers. CRJ played for a very long time and broke the consecutive games played record long held by Lou Gehrig. But he was never known as a "super-star". Other than longevity, his year to year stats weren't that impressive.

But one must consider who is doing the voting when it comes to such matters. By and large it's the writers that cover the various sports. Are they "experts" and therefore qualified to cast such votes? Maybe, maybe not across their spectrum. Like athletes, some are better than others.

Thing is, all these folks are based somewhere. Whether they work for a newspaper, magazine, TV, online, or other -- they all have a "home town". And they're all human, I think. Ahem. Therefore they have human flaws. Like bias. Whether they want to admit it or not, they're going to favor their home town heroes, while likely harboring grudges against athletes from other teams and cities they considered the "enemy" for so long.

There's a certain writer in the Detroit area that's still whining because Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker never got their plaques in Cooperstown. He voted for them every year, until their eligibility was over. Too bad hardly anybody else did. This is the classic case of being a "homer".

So sure, many of the writers are biased. But if the vote is taken away from them -- then who takes their place?

The players? Or former players? True, nobody knows players better than other players, but who would be eligible to vote? Anybody still alive that ever signed a big league contract? That could get complicated. And of course they would have the same biases as the writers -- likely even more pronounced. Rivalries and even hatred at times are woven into the fabric of sports between teams and their athletes. It's hard to believe they could be totally objective when it came to casting ballots. Much easier to vote for teammates, present or former, or at least the guys on the other teams they became friends with. Human nature again, but that wouldn't make it objective.

The fans? Perhaps they should decide. After all, one way or the other, be it buying tickets to games, team paraphernalia, and the ultimate consumers of products featured on commercials -- they've always bankrolled the whole works. Without the fans, there would BE no professional sports.

But nobody is more biased than them. They love their home teams (players) and hate anybody that beats them. And the vast majority are couch taters that know little if anything when it comes to true worthiness for sports honors.

That would be fine if the system was fair -- but it's not. It's no big secret that teams hand out All-Star ballots with impunity. One in attendance can snatch up as many as they want and vote as many times as they want. On-line, it's even worse. Unlimited voting. Click away. Though technically legal, such a system is corrupt and makes a mockery of fairness and objectivity. The teams themselves openly urge their fans to vote for their players as many times as they can. The whole process has become a bad joke. It's not about who is truly deserving, it's about hype and popularity contests. How many times have we seen All-Stars selected at various positions, when others are vastly superior to them in any given year?  What greatness they may have shown in the past shouldn't matter. It's about now. But it doesn't work that way -- does it?

Yet for now, Steph Curry was a worthy choice indeed as MVP.

The writers got that one right. Still, it's amazing not a single curmudgeon from coast to coast opted to vote otherwise, just because he/she could.

100% coming from such a diverse group, likely many of which reside in towns the Warriors have come into and blistered their homies?


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