So I was having a discussion with some folks online recently about the MVP Award and the relative merits of A-Rod versus The Big Papi. And the biggest thing in David Ortiz’s favor is that he’s got a World Series ring—and that’s a big, big thing in his favor. And since Most Valuable Player has never really been defined very well and deliberately so, the arguments can be interesting but tend to be ultimately frustrating, since so few people agree on what the award should be for, exactly.
If the discussion was over who’s the better player, of course, there’d be no competition. Because Ortiz is a hell of a hitter. But that’s all he is. And Rodriguez is clearly at least his equal and may be his superior. And that’s on top of being one of a handful of the finest fielders in the game.
At which point Albert Pujols was brought up and those of us in the discussion were accused of being part of the East Coast/Flyover Mentality, meaning that anyone who didn’t play in the Northeast got overlooked.
Which has some validity. Because all else being equal, I’d take one Pujols over three Ortizes. What an amazing player, and it’s entirely likely that playing in the best baseball town there is, St. Louis, allowed his talents to grow and flourish naturally without the withering glare of the New York City media who, we all know, either hold you up as the savior of the city or Enemy Number One, depending upon your production over the last three games.
Which brings me to my point. LaDainian Tomlinson is the best running back in the NFL right now and may have been last year as well, although people were slow to notice. Oh, sure, you can make a case for Shaun Alexander or…uh, that’s about it. Corey Dillion’s great. Rudi Johnson’s good. Edgerrin James is great, if getting up there in years. Curtis Martin’s old. Marshall Faulk is ancient and Steven Jackson’s great but not Great (yet?). Priest Holmes is hurt.
Except one guy’s missing and no one ever seems to notice. Put Tiki Barber’s stats up against Tomlinson or anyone else and he’s right there. He’s a stud and a half on the field and by all accounts a great guy (the recent ref episode notwithstanding; it’s a serious offense for which he should have gotten hammered harder but it’s notable largely for how extremely out of character it was) and a hell of a team player. He makes big play after big play. And he’s in New York. But he never gets talked about.
I have no idea why. Part of it may be that all the focus is on wide receivers these days. Or maybe it’s just that he’s not a loudmouth. But it’s odd. He’s been one of the three best backs over the past three years and he’s playing in the media capital of the country and he gets almost completely overlooked. Odd.