Sunday, May 26, 2013

How to answer pointless baseball trivia questions in 5 easy steps...

                                 When I used to hang out at a Brooklyn bar named O'Connor's in Park Slope (no longer there, sadly), I used to always show up in the afternoon, ready to give various trivia questions I made up to the older bartender, Chris.  Of course, he' was an old time baseball fan from the '50s, so he had plenty of trivia questions for me as well.  I always preferred coming up with the questions myself, rather than just relay information someone else had told me....that's the advantage of being a dog walker, you have plenty of time to think.

                     One of the questions I asked had been mentioned in my blog about a year ago, which was, "Who's the only player to win an MVP and never make an All Star Game?'  The answer is Kirk Gibson, and almost no one ever got it (Maybe having to do with him being maybe the worst MVP pick of all time, but anyway...).  I'm not sure there is any one method to figuring out the answer to these, but I'm gonna try for a trivia question that I thought of, also on the subject of MVP.  The question being, :"Since  1931, when the MVP starting being voted on by the BBWA, (Baseball writers of America) who is the only franchise to have at least one MVP in each decade (excluded the current one)?  The answer can be deduced in 5 easy steps:

Step one: "Eliminate all expansion teams".

Since there's no way to win an MVP if your team doesn't exist for the first three decades, then the Angels, Rangers, Mets, Astros, Royals, Pilots/Brewers, Padres, Expos/Nationals, Mariners, Blue Jays, Marlins, Rockies, Rays and D'Backs are all eliminated.  30 teams just became 16; the "original" franchises from 1901, if you will.

Step Two: Go back to the last decade.

This actually made it very easy, especially in the National league, as the Giants (Kent, 2000, Bonds, 2001-2004), Cardinals (Pujols, 2005, 2008, 2009) and Phillies (Howard, 2006 and Rollins, 2007) were the only three teams to have an MVP that decade.  Which means the Cubs, Reds, Pirates, Braves and Dodgers are out.  The AL was a little trickier, although 3 of the teams were expansion (Ichiro in 2001 for Mariners, A-rod 2003 for the Rangers and Vladimir Guerrero, 2004 for the Angels), so they're gone. That just leaves the Yankees (A-rod, 2005 and 2007), Red Sox (Pedroia, 2008), A's (Giambi, 2000, Tejada, 2002) and Twins (Morneau, 2006, Mauer, 2009) left.  Some may ask, "Hey, aren't the Twins an expansion team?"  The answer is no.  They actually used to be the Washington Senators, but moved to Minneapolis in 1961.  Shortly thereafter, a "New" Senators emerged, becoming the Rangers in 1972.  Two different franchises...

Step Three: Back another decade.

In the NL, no Cardinal or Phillie player won in the '90s.  The Giants had Barry Bonds in 1993 (Probably the only legitimate one he had in a Giants uniform, but anyway...)  The Yankees and Twins did not have a player win the award between '90-99, so that leaves the A's (Henderson in '90, Eckersley in '92) and Bosox (Mo Vaughn, in '95...though Albert Belle from the Indians clearly deserved it more...sometimes it pays to be a nice guy) as the two AL survivors.  And then there were three...(sorry for the Genesis reference).

Step Four: Back yet another decade...or two

I know it seems monotonous, but we're close.  Actually, there's no change from the remaining three, as Boston (Clemens in '86), Oakland (Canseco in '88) and Giants (Mitchell, at the tail end of the decade, in '89) all had BBWA approval.  In the '70s, we lose the Giants (all around rough decade for the team, save for the earlier years), but The Sox ( "Gold dust twins", Lynn and Rice in '75 and '78 respectively) and A's (Vida Blue in '71) remain.

Step Five: The answer is revealed.

Alas, the A's, who went from being the Kansas City A's to the Oakland A's in 1968, did not have an MVP in that turbulent decade, but the summer of love gave us Carl Yazstemski from Boston, as the Most Valuable player. Yaz used to be the answer to one of the most obvious trivia questions; "Who was the last player to win the Triple Crown in Baseball?", until Miguel Cabrera did it last year (and looks to be doing it again this year)

                   So the answer to this question of course is, the Boston Red Sox.  In the spirit of full disclosure, the remaining Bosox MVP's are: Jackie Jensen in '58 (easily the most obscure MVP The Sox ever had; many, including myself, believe Mantle deserved it, but I guess it was destiny), Ted Williams in '46 and '49 (but he did NOT win it during his two triple crown years, or in 1941, when he batted .406.  Screw DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak, the "Splendid Splinter" was robbed) and Jimmie Foxx in 1938.  Foxx also won two other MVP awards in the '30s with, you guessed it, the last team to fall in this trivia question, the A's (Then, of course, in Philadelphia).  That's why baseball trivia trumps all other sports; history meeting coincidence on a regular basis... 


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