TELANDER: McCutchen an MVP with a little less meat
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com | @ricktelander November 16, 2013 1:32AM
Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP Award with less than it used to take. | Keith Srakocic/AP
Updated: December 18, 2013 6:28AM
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen won the 2013 National League MVP Award, the first Pittsburgh Pirate to do so in 21 years.
No complaints here. But check out McCutchen’s stats: .317 batting average, 21 home runs, 84 RBI, 27 steals. He also had 78 walks, a .404 on-base percentage and a .508 slugging average.
Nice, but nothing like, say, 2001 NL MVP Barry Bonds’ stats. That year Ol’ Big Head cranked 73 homers, had 137 RBI, 177 walks and 13 steals. His OBP was .515, his slugging percentage a ridiculous .863.
Let’s not say the Steroid Era is over. Let’s just say it’s calmed down a bit.
◆ Bears defensive end David Bass, a deep reserve, is getting more and more playing time because of injuries around him. You get what you can in the NFL, pay-wise. But let’s just say, speculatively, that Bass has nearly as good a game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens as does a former Pro Bowl selection, the fading Julius Peppers.
Bass makes $405,000 for the year. Peppers makes more than twice that per game. Interesting.
◆ That Duke-Kansas matchup the other night at the United Center, featuring superstar freshmen Andrew Wiggins of the Jayhawks and Chicago’s Jabari Parker of the Blue Devils, was a game to behold.
With No. 1 Kentucky playing No. 2 Michigan State, spotlighting Wildcats freshman forward Julius Randle and Spartans sophomore guard Gary Harris, you likely had four of the top six players to be taken in next spring’s NBA draft playing that night. Maybe more. Who knows how many freshmen studs Kentucky coach John Calipari can toss to the pros each year?
Tickets to the doubleheader, according to Crain’s Business’ Danny Ecker, went for a stunning average of $366 on the secondary market. There were more than 20,000 fans at the UC, rollicking. That’s a lot of money rolling around.
In this world of pay-for-pleasure, I’ll bet most attendees felt it was money well spent.
◆ There are three sports rules I need changed or instituted, pronto:
There will be no faking of injuries in college football to slow down opposing offenses. You sit/lie/faint on the turf, you are out for at least five minutes of clock time.
There will be no more ‘‘icing’’ of kickers once the kicking team has lined up in formation. This is for college and pros. Call a timeout after that and the kicking team moves 10 yards closer.
Finally, get rid of shootouts in hockey. The only thing worthwhile about those tiebreakers is watching Patrick Kane toe-pick daintily up ice like Evan Lysacek. But he hasn’t been doing this lately. So go from four-on-four after an overtime period to three-on-three. The NHL is considering this already. Do it. Open the ice. Either that or remove the goalies. Playing for a shootout in overtime is lousy theater.
◆ The Green Bay Packers’ huge and talented tight end, Jermichael Finley, is having serious spinal-fusion surgery after a nasty head-on collision with a defensive back in a game against the Cleveland Browns a month ago. Finley, 26, says he’ll play again. I don’t think so.
If you saw the injury, you saw that Finley was paralyzed temporarily. He was taken off on a cart, strapped down. His injury was yet another reminder that lowering the head — a natural and macho move when you want to gain more yards in football — can lead to some bad, bad stuff. Just like that, a career can be over.
Which reminds me. Anybody remember Bears star wide receiver Johnny Knox? Remember when he was nearly killed by a blow from a huge Seattle Seahawks lineman in 2011, having his spine twisted and vertebrae crushed? Knox had spinal-fusion surgery and is still recovering. He once said he would be back playing.
We forget these guys fast.
◆ Former Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd got 15 years in Texas prison for drug dealings. Even though I am in favor of marijuana being legalized and heavily regulated, I am against people trying to make a fortune off selling it while it’s still taboo in many states.
So good luck, Sam. I’ll bet Northern Illinois, your alma mater, is relieved this thing is over. It wasn’t great news to be sharing with the nation during the undefeated Huskies’ huge win over Ball State on Wednesday.
◆ I hate hazing. I don’t like it under any circumstances, anywhere. I don’t care how tough the club or organization or outfit is you are joining. The only purpose in humiliating novices is to give the hazers a fraudulent sense of superiority, to make the rookies feel embarrassed and ashamed and angry.
The cycle does not end unless stopped by someone with courage and rank because the only way the ones who were hazed can purge themselves — at least subliminally — is by humiliating the next group of rookies. Worse, if you look closely at hazing schemes, you will see true sadists most enjoying the pain inflicted for reasons that are dark and depraved.
This Richie Incognito harassment thing with the Miami Dolphins brought this to light, again. Let it be the end. Everywhere.