Cormack on MLB: Worth a click, Dec. 11

December 11, 2012, 6:44 PM

Congrats to Christine Sinclair on being named the 2012 Lou Marsh award winner as Canada’s top athlete.

For many baseball fans in this country the Lou Marsh will always be associated with the controversial decision — at least in some eyes — in 1997 to award it to F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve over NL MVP Larry Walker.

Both men had outstanding years; Villeneuve becoming the first Canadian to win the F1 title and Walker becoming the first Canadian to take home MVP honours.

You can debate the man vs. machine merits all day, but it’s worth remembering the impact Villenueve had on his sport in this country at the time. He took it to heights of popularity it has not seen since, and likely never will again.

As for Walker, his 1997 season for the Colorado Rockies was simply ridiculous: a NL-best 49 home runs, 33 steals and a slash line of .366/.452/.720/1.172. In addition to leading the league in homers, Walker also led the NL in on-base, slugging, OPS and total bases (409). He added a Gold Glove to boot.

Looking back, the award really should have been split between the two.

Walker took home the award the following year — but upon further review, it appears he was not the first, nor the last baseball player to have been overlooked by the Lou Marsh voting commitee.

On Tuesday morning Hall of Famer pitcher — and Chatham, Ont., native — Fergie Jenkins passed along the following message to Sinclair:

It was a classy move and it got me thinking: how many times did Jenkins take home the Marsh?

In all honesty I was afraid to look it up because the award has traditionally favoured amateur athletes and Jenkins performed in a time — the ’70s and ’80s — and place — the National League, and later, American League West — that made it easy for his accomplishments to be overlooked.

Case and point, 1971.

That year, the then 28-year-old Jenkins made 39 starts for the Chicago Cubs posting a 2.77 ERA and 1.049 WHIP. He led the NL in wins (24) complete games (30), innings (325), walks-per-nine innings (1.0), strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.11) and WAR (11.3).

Oh, and Jenkins could hit a little, too.

In 115 at-bats in ’71, Jenkins batted .243/.282/.478/.761 with six home runs. Not surprisingly, he took home the NL Cy Young Award and finished seventh in MVP voting, the latter another honour he probably should have won.

You’d think after a season like that, Jenkins would be a shoo-in for the Marsh. Alas, he lost out to harness racer Hervé Filion.

And you thought Walker losing out to an F1 driver was an injustice.

Like Walker however, Marsh voters eventually paid Jenkins his due, awarding him with the 1974 prize.

Following Walker’s win in 1998, there are arguments to be made that Eric Gagne (2003) and Justin Morneau (2006, 2008) were more deserving winners than Mike Weir, Cindy Klassen and Chantal Petitclerc, respectively.

Joey Votto managed to parlay his 2010 NL MVP season into the Marsh award despite going up against a strong group of contenders from the Vancouver Olympics and the Toronto native might very well have won it again this year if not for a knee injury this past summer.

In a less media-saturated era, Votto would have had a much harder time beating out a crop of home Olympians. His 2010 win speaks volumes about baseball’s rise in the Canadian sporting consciousness over the past 40 years, and it bodes well for the likes of Brett Lawrie and other young Canadian baseball players who might hope to one day be considered Canada’s best.

But for now, congrats again Ms. Sinclair.

SPORTSNET ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

On Thursday the latest issue of Sportsnet Magazine hits the stand and with it, Sportsnet will announce its own 2012 Canadian Athlete of the Year. Six Sportsnet media personalities were enlisted to debate the six finalists in Sportsnet Magazine and on Connected with video vignettes.

You can read and watch each of the six essays and vignettes here.

GOSSIP, GOSSIP, GOSSIP…

The R.A. Dickey saga drags on with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reporting the Mets recently increased their contract offer to approximately three years, $25 million.

Jon Heyman of CBS says the Mets are continuing to take trade offers for Dickey. Heyman adds, “a couple teams have offered one elite prospect for Dickey, but the Mets are looking for multiple players back in a package.”

Ken Rosenthal says a trade for Dickey is unlikely.

Across town, David Waldstein of the New York Times reports the Yankees and Ichiro are expected to get a deal done soon.

In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes writes the Indians are still looking to deal Asdrubal Cabrera. Hoynes says before the winter meetings last week, the Phillies and Indians discussed a deal that would have sent Cabrera to Philadelphia (where he would have played third base) in exchange for Vance Worley and prospects. The Phillies traded Worley to Minnesota with Trevor May for Ben Revere.

The Phillies can still add approximately $20 million to their 2013 payroll, writes Matt Gelb, who figures they are likely to sign one of Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher or Cody Ross.

A team with no room to add payroll: the Milwaukee Brewers. Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel reports the team’s 2013 payroll will be around $80 million, or roughly $20 million less than it was in 2012.

Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore is furious with some of the criticism he’s heard following Sunday’s trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

He’s especially peeved at those suggesting he only made the deal in a desperate attempt to save his job.

“To me, that’s insulting,” Moore told USA TODAY. “That’s very insulting. Very, very insulting. I don’t get too bent up about criticism, and I want to take the high road here, but that’s insulting my integrity. If something happened, I couldn’t get another job in baseball? Is that what people think?”

AND FINALLY…

Am I alone in having been not aware of celebritynetworth.com before today?

It’s an interesting concept, even if the numbers are questionable at best. You have to give them credit however for being practical enough to give “rappers” their own category along with “actors,” “athletes,” “businessmen,” and “politicians.”

And for those of you wondering, Flavor Flav is worth $9 million, or so they say.

One baseball player who obviously spends some time on the site seeing how his back account stacks up is new Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter:

Not sure what that has to do his with net worth, but it’s good to know he and Mike Wilner share the same walk.

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