[to television camera]
That there is trademarked, not to be used without written permission of Ricky Bobby, Inc.”
Rarely is it a good idea to live life based on the wisdom, or lack thereof, that Will Farrell’s character in Talledega Nights. However, in Paul Goldschmidt’s case I’ll make an exception.
While Goldschmidt may be “America’s First Baseman”, much like “America’s Team” lately, the Dallas Cowboys, being a fan favorite isn’t the same as being the best. In a lineup known as gritty — which, like grits themselves, has been very bland and flavorless — the young slugger has added a much needed jolt of excitement to a lineup. His ability to hit the long ball and his panache for walk off wins has made him more popular in the desert than air conditioning or In-N-Out Burger. That popularity and having a slugger who looks like he came straight from the pages of Casey at the Bat is great for the Valley, the Diamondbacks franchise and Major League Baseball. But does it make him a true National MVP candidate? Thanks to Ricky Bobby, we know the answer. (Or, if you don’t trust fictional race car drivers, how about ESPN analyst Pedro Gomez?)
The simple answer to the popular local query is no. If the current standings hold up, the D-backs will finish out of both Wild Card spots in the NL and well behind the Dodgers in the West. Plain and simple, if you ain’t first, you’re last.
In professional sports there is no room for the most valuable player to be on a team that doesn’t achieve at the highest of levels unless his or her individual performance is unheard of. That is not the case with Goldschmidt. His home run and RBI totals are nice, they’re the best so far in the NL, but still far from a historic pace for his team or league. If his numbers lead to his team going on a tear over the last six weeks and making the postseason, then of course he deserves serious consideration as his value to a winning team will be undebatable.
As of now though, how could the most valuable player be on a team not good enough to participate on baseball’s biggest stage?
Some will argue that Goldschmidt deserves it based on his statistics. It’s a nice stance but, as much as it pains me to say it as an Arizona guy, isn’t Yasiel Puig more deserving? Since he was called up to the bigs he’s taken over Los Angeles in a way that hasn’t been seen since Fernando Mania. He’s the most famous Cuban in sports since Mark and has the statistics, .373 batting average with 11 home runs in 63 games, are worthy of the notoriety. Oh, and not to mention, those statistics and his overall play has energized the Dodgers to go from worst to first while winning 39 of their last 47 games, which is the best mark over that many games for the the club since 1899.
Thanks to the likes of Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, any player that is larger than most and hitting homers is under suspicion fair or not. Goldschmidt is a victim of circumstance in that way, just like he is thanks to his team’s record.
It’s simple, if the D-backs aren’t first, Goldschmidt is last. He has had a fantastic season but without a playoff appearance, he won’t be the most valuable player anywhere other than in his own clubhouse. Oh, and my apologies to Ricky Bobby for not acquiring written consent.