|Vote right or don't vote at all|
By Mike Greenberg
You want to know why everybody hates the media? It's because of guys like the two writers who kept Hideki Matsui off their ballots for American League Rookie of the Year. Card carrying members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Messengers whose messages deserve to be killed.
No, these guys made up their OWN definition. Where do they get the ego?
One of them tried to explain himself by saying he thinks baseball needs to redefine what a rookie is. I agree. I happen to think that the spirit of the rookie award is not well represented by Matsui because of his enormous success in Japanese baseball. He's 29 years old and played 10 seasons for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's equivalent of the majors before he came to the Yankees.
Wouldn't that have been a daring gesture on the parts of these two writers? To forfeit their vote in protest -- what a selfless gesture that would have been. But neither chose that option, perhaps because he is unwilling to relinquish the tiny bit of power he has within the sport he covers.
Some years ago, a New York baseball writer exercised a similarly misguided option to exclude Pedro Martinez from his MVP ballot because he didn't believe pitchers should be eligible for that hardware. His rationale was that pitchers have their own award in the Cy Young. He was dead wrong, just as these guys are now. All three of them should be stripped of their votes as punishment.
Jackie Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in 1947 after he'd spent successful seasons in the Negro Leagues. There are those who will tell you the quality of play in that league was the equal of the majors. Certainly it was as close as Japanese baseball is today. Would these writers have excluded Robinson from their ballots? If they say no, they are hypocrites. If they say yes, you be the judge of what they are.
In Matsui's case, it isn't only the two writers who are willing to flout the criteria. Several players have applauded the selection of Berroa over Matsui, including Cleveland's Jody Gerut, who finished fourth in the American League voting.
"I'm happy that Matsui didn't win," Gerut said. "I don't think he would qualify himself as a rookie."
To that, I say: Who cares? Who cares how Matsui would qualify himself? Who cares what Gerut thinks? Their job is to play baseball. The writers' job is to vote for these awards.
In our nation, voting is a right. In baseball, it is a privilege. How I wish all the writers understood that.
Mike Greenberg co-hosts ESPN Radio's Morning Show with Mike Golic and frequently anchors SportsCenter.