Sports

You Shouldn’t Try To Sanitize History

Matt Kemp might demand a recount. And who could blame him?

With Ryan Braun becoming the latest baseball star to be tainted by steroids allegations, by my count that makes 16 MVP awards over the past 24 years that fall under suspicion.

So, here’s the question: Which players have missed out on MVP awards because of suspected (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) steroid use by others? Here is the balloting for the awards that are in doubt, with the highest untainted finisher in ALL CAPS:

1988 AL

  1. Jose Canseco

  2. MIKE GREENWELL

1994 NL

  1. Jeff Bagwell

  2. MATT WILLIAMS (who was implicated later in his career; Moises Alou was third in the balloting in 1994)

1996 AL

  1. Juan Gonzalez

  2. ALEX RODRIGUEZ — As far as we know, this was before A-Rod’s steroid use. Besides, he was absolutely robbed in the voting, one of the worst MVP votes in history.

1996 NL
1. Ken Caminiti

  1. MIKE PIAZZA

1998 AL

  1. Juan Gonzalez

  2. Nomar Garciaparra

  3. DEREK JETER

1998 NL

  1. Sammy Sosa

  2. Mark McGwire

  3. MOISES ALOU

2000 AL

  1. Jason Giambi

  2. FRANK THOMAS (Don’t know if Frank ever came under suspicion; he was already build like a house.)

2001 NL

  1. Barry Bonds

  2. Sammy Sosa

  3. LUIS GONZALEZ (As far as we know, there’s no proof Gonzalez used steroids, but we’re suspicious. It’s not every day that a left fielder plays eight seasons never hitting more than 15 homers and then goes on a run of 23-26-31-57-28-26 beginning at age 30. That 57-homer season was in 2001, and it looks suspiciously out of place on his stat sheet. If Gonzalez is eliminated, the honor falls to ALBERT PUJOLS).

2002 AL

  1. Miguel Tejada

  2. Alex Rodriguez (has admitted he was using by then)

  3. ALFONSO SORIANO

2002 NL

  1. Barry Bonds

  2. ALBERT PUJOLS

2003 AL

  1. Alex Rodriguez

  2. CARLOS DELGADO

2003 NL

  1. Barry Bonds

  2. ALBERT PUJOLS

2004 NL

  1. Barry Bonds

  2. ADRIAN BELTRE (hmmmm, we’re suspicious; third place was . . . ALBERT PUJOLS)

2005 AL

  1. Alex Rodriguez

  2. David Ortiz

  3. VLADIMIR GUERRERO (if Vlad is suspicious, the award falls to Travis Hafner, who was fifth with Manny Ramirez finishing fourth)

2007 AL

  1. Alex Rodriguez

  2. MAGGLIO ORDONEZ

2011 NL

  1. Ryan Braun

  2. MATT KEMP

The amazing part of this exercise: That would be two more MVP awards (or maybe three or four) for Albert Pujols, adding to the three he actually has won. Pujols’ finishes in MVP balloting during his 11 seasons: 4-2-2-3-1-2-9-1-1-2-5. Nobody in history (at least since the current MVP system was started in 1931) has had that kind of sustained run.

That said, should Ryan Braun be stripped of his MVP award if his positive test is upheld and he is suspended for 50 games next season? Of course not; that would be silly.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark agrees with me, and he articulates many of the arguments against revoking Braun’s MVP. Among them: Where does it end? Do we relieve Barry Bonds of his four straight MVP awards and give a couple of them to Pujols? What if 10 years from now Pujols is implicated?

Besides, Braun reportedly failed a drug test during the playoffs, and the award is for the regular season.

You open a whole barrel or worms if you try to rewrite history for the purpose of sanitizing it. So, no, I don’t think Braun should be stripped of his MVP award. But I wouldn’t blame Matt Kemp if he disagrees.