I know I endorsed Gagne for the NL Cy Young, but now that he's actually won it, I've got to say, it doesn't really feel right to me. I think you've really converted me on the relative unimportance of the closer. For me, it's a Hideki Matsui situation- since closers are eligible within the rules, I think Gagne should have won, but I'd have absolutely no problem if the award was restricted to starting pitchers. Make relievers candidates for MVP only, or heck, give them their own award...make baseball like college football (I can only assume the "Ray Guy Award" finalists that ran across ESPN's bottom line indicates that there's an award for the best college football punter?). Actually, though, with the gold gloves, relievers really are the only position without their own unique award. Also, I think my analogy of closers to kickers in football was really hit home by Sportscenter just now. After going on and on and on about how Gagne was 55-55 in his save opportunities, they ran one of their lists- this one was the top 10 instances of perfection in sports and #10 was Gary Anderson in '98 going perfect on field goals, perfect on extra points for the Vikings...and to me, the two feats are fairly comparable in their impressiveness. Yes, perfect is perfect, but if you don't kick 80% or better on your field goals, you kind of suck (the same is true if you miss more than 1 extra point). So from that standpoint, again, perfect is perfect, but kickers and closers are expected to be pretty darn close to perfect anyway. And as you always say, they have one task. Speaking of which, Gagne's record was 2-3 so he was less than impressive when asked to accomplish anything other than that one task. And on a different note, I thought that was kind of a dumb list for Sportscenter. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think there's a whole lot of comparison between Miami's 17-0 season in '72 and Gary Anderson's season kicking for Minnesota in '98. But at least both of those things occurred over one season. Phil Jackson 9-0 in the NBA Finals? Chuck Noll 4-0 in Superbowls? Charles Haley 5-0 as a player in Superbowls? Interesting, but stretching a little, don't you think?
A) Ballplayers on steroids: the subtle exception that makes baseball brass different from parents is that I think baseball brass, on some level, knew full well that the steroid use was going on, and did everything they could to not discover it because of all the tickets that homeruns sell. Its like if parents dropped their kids off at bars instead of dorms before turning the other way.
B) Gagne's Cy Young: Its just one of those things. I'm just glad there wasn't a clear alternative in the starting pitcher ranks, like last year when they threatened to give it to Smoltz over Johnson or Schilling.
C) Perfection: You know, Cal Ripken Jr. went 6 for 6 in a game once. SHouldn't we include that?
D) You know, I think you struck upon the one "perfection" that would actually be both possible and yet incredible at the same time. The one I thought of was getting a hit in every game of a season, but that's not really perfection as much as it is just a streak. Besides, if you went 1 for 5 every game of the year, you'd only have 162 hits and you'd be hitting .200.
I agree that going 1-5 in every game wouldn't be perfection, but I think it would be just as impressive in a way...kind of like throwing a gutter ball on a lane with bumpers, if you see what I'm trying to say. Or really more like bowling a 30 by getting a 3 in every frame.