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values voter

i'll be posting kinda light the next coupla days; getting ready to head home tomorrow and pay my farewell respects to busch. i'll be at sunday's finale vs the mets and all three games against the pirates -- games 9, 8, 7, and 6 on the countdown. if all goes well, my three-year-old boy samuel will accompany me to sunday's game; let that be a clue to whomever should happen to attend monday's game and find the seat in front of him/her caked in play-doh and sparkle glue.

i fly home with the kidz tomorrow and have a deadline to slay today, so this'll be quick -- not that it would take much time to sum up last night's game anyway. chris carpenter's good, albert pujols is good, life is good.

brian gunn and i exchanged opinions on the mvp race in yesterday's comments. i argued that albert's a clear winner over derrek because the two players are basically equal statistically, and both way ahead of the field -- but one guy's team is 20 games ahead of the other's the standings. to me, that's meaningful. it is less so to brian; he argued that the mvp is an indidivual award and recognizes individual achievement, so leave the teams out of it. we ended up agreeing that our diff'nces are mainly a matter of taste. brian's basic point is that lee has a damn good case, at least as good as albert's, and shouldn't be penalized because he has the bad luck to play on a badly constructed and badly managed team.

that's a legitimate and widely held point of view but i respectfully disagree. to me, the mvp award celebrates more than the individual player who receives it; it celebrates the game. it's an emblem of excellence; hence the bias toward guys who play for winners. that bias can be misplaced, but in pujols' case i think it's fitting. recognizing him would be a way of recognizing the cardinals as a group, the way they play the game -- their intelligence, their consistent effort, their team-oriented play. we recognize all those qualities in pujols in part because of the context in which he plays; the team reflects well upon him. derrek lee may have all the same attributes, but they're masked because of the team he plays on.

which goes back to my point -- if you recognize lee, you're only recognizing killer statistics and outstanding individual achievement. if you recognize pujols, you're celebrating those things but also something larger.

i'll be accused of simply having a hometown bias, and maybe that's all this is about. but in '98 i opposed big mac's mvp candidacy in part because his pursuit of maris's record relegated team objectives to a lower order of importance. tony altered the lineup to get mcgwire extra at-bats, and other players -- jordan and lankford, mainly -- were assigned the secondary role of providing "protection" for mcgwire -- his goons, not his teammates. mcgwire may have had the best individual stat line that year; but as a symbol, as an emblem of how to play the game . . . . well, we know a lot more about mcgwire now than we did then. sosa, too.

my opinion is that the award isn't just about value; it is also about values, the things we admire in the game. to me, there's as much to admire in how albert plays the game as there is in his stat line.

game thread later today.