The Big Day
In about 90 minutes, we learn whether the BBWAA has awarded Felix Hernandez the 2010 AL Cy Young. In about 95 minutes, you’ll be reading a non-stop series of articles about what this vote means. You’ll be told that if Felix wins, it will be the culmination of the baseball writers acceptance of newer statistical analysis. If Sabathia wins, it will be cast as evidence that the voters are standing their ground and refuse to move off of traditional dogma.
In reality, both narratives are probably wrong. I talk about this a bit at FanGraphs today and made some of these same points in September here, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that today’s results are simply a poll of 28 people. Are those 28 going to be representative of the entire membership of the writer’s association? Maybe, maybe not.
If we avoid the litmus test idea, and instead look at the bigger picture, I think we can see some remarkable progress in how the mainstream media covers the sport. If you think about what the local coverage was like five years ago, we essentially had Larry Stone, Art Thiel, and a lot of cringing. There is simply no comparison when you look at the types of coverage provided today compared to what used to pass for analysis in the dailies. It’s not just Seattle, either – writers around the country have taken stock of what they believe and been willing to question whether some of the old cliches were actually true.
I know Felix wants to win the award, and for his sake, I hope he does. But even more for the sakes of guys like Larry Stone and Ryan Divish, I hope Felix wins – their industry deserves recognition, not scorn, for how well they’ve recently adapted to changes in the understanding of the game.