I got my notice via email that I will be one of the baseball writers voting on the National League Manager of the Year award.
Can I vote for Davey Johnson again?
Each chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America has members who are asked to vote on the various honors the BBWAA awards every year — Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year — in each league.
It is a sometimes gratifying, sometimes controversial exercise. It’s also a level of power that some believe writers shouldn’t have. Some newspapers refuse to allow their writers to vote for these awards.
Others treat their writers as adults.
It is a responsibility, with implications, some of which are financial. Players typically have clauses in their contracts with financial bonuses for winning these awards. Also, it is their legacy, and years from now, often becomes part of the conversation for entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame, especially for the generations to come who never saw these players — or managers — in action.
Lately, these awards have sometimes become the sports version of the O.J. trial. Sabermetric jihadists have turned them into a holy war, a declaration of the validation of the numbers they believe should determine the outcome, and will wage internet attacks on writers who don’t fall in line with the new religion.
Today, the votes — and the voters — are often public knowledge, which is fine. And the process should be as well.
My responsibility is to determine who is the 2014 NL Manager of the Year.
Remarkably, another Nationals manager — Johnson won the award in 2012 — is a top candidate. A first-year manager, no less.
Matt Williams is a legitimate contender for the honor. In fact, it may be a two-manager race.
There may be some consideration for Don Mattingly, who has guided the Los Angeles Dodgers through some rough waters early in his tenure to put his very talented team where they belong — among the best teams in the NL.
But, at least in my consideration, part of the process is not just looking at who has managed the team with the most success, but who has done so in the face of the most challenges — who has the toughest road to leading a championship team.