Monday, September 12, 2005

Jason Giambi as MLB comeback player of the year?

Fall is here and that means two things, pennant chase baseball and football. I have said many times that I am not a huge football fan, but with the right TV I can be. If at all possible get an HDTV, it will make you a better sports fan, but I digress. September baseball cannot be beat, well unless it is October baseball, but follow me. With the addition of the wild card, more teams have a shot at the postseason, which means more fans have a chance to see meaningful baseball at the end of the season.

With late season baseball you have the debates for end of the season awards. MVP awards, Cy Young awards, manager of the year awards and others will be given to deserving players at the end of the season. One award that seems to be causing a bit of controversy is the comeback player of the year award. Why would this award be causing controversy? Well, a great candidate for the award this year is Jason Giambi.

Remember him? The same Jason Giambi that testified under oath, in leaked grand jury testimony, that he KNOWINGLY took performance enhancing drugs. The same Jason Giambi that apologized in a preseason press conference for…well, he apologized for something. Apparently he wasn’t able to say what he was apologizing for because the Yankees would have dropped him like a sack of potatoes if he came out and admitted he took illegal substances. I guess the Yankees’ lawyers informed them they couldn’t sack Giambi for testimony that was supposed to be confidential and was leaked illegally to a newspaper.

Giambi, after starting off very slowly, has put together a very good season, especially when you look at the season he had in 2004. In 80 games with the Yanks last year, Giambi hit a Mendoza like .207 with 12 homeruns and 40 RBIs. I also should mention that Giambi suffered many health related maladies that may or may not have been steroid related.This year Giambi, as of this writing, has hit .284 with 29 homeruns and 74 RBIs and most of the numbers have been put up since July when Giambi went on a tear. Because of this huge turnaround, many are touting Giambi for the American league comeback player of the year.

Should they be? Does Giambi deserve this award? In a word…no. Giambi should not get an award for coming back from trouble he caused himself. Until we know more about the damage steroids do, how can we know for sure that Giambi’s health problems were anything other than steroids related? Unlike Rafael Palmeiro, who still has not explained how he unknowingly took steroids, Giambi knowingly took steroids. While he benefited in the pocketbook, it looked to many that it may have ended his probable Hall of Fame career. Can you give him this award when in reality his stupidity was the reason he had to comeback from adversity?

I have said that I could be entertained by someone but not respect that person. This is the textbook case. Whenever Giambi comes to the plate in a game these days, I am watching to see if he blasts another homerun, he is entertaining and I admire the way he has battled through his early season struggles. This is a great story. He has not, however, earned my respect. He cheated himself and the game and got caught. The reason he had a horrible 2004 was caused by himself and no one else. Because of this he should not be rewarded.

I haven’t even mentioned that fact that we don’t know for sure if he is clean. How do we know that after his very slow start, Giambi didn’t seek out a little pharmaceutical help? That is what some have said happened to Palmeiro. He struggled early and then to get a boost he took a banned substance. I am sure Giambi has been tested, but we don’t know if he has found another steroid that is undetectable. He could very well be taking human growth hormone or HGH. That is not even being tested for in the major leagues.

With the combination of Giambi causing his own decline and the fact that no one knows for sure whether or not Giambi is completely clean, then I think that someone else should win the comeback player of the year. The question is, who deserves it more than Giambi does? That is something the voters will decide. I should say that I won’t be surprised if Giambi wins, but I think for that to happen there has to be no other player that is even close to deserving it.

In the National League, the choice is easy, Ken Griffey, Jr. This season is the first that Griffey has played over 125 games in four years. By just his numbers alone, he is deserving and Griffey has never been mentioned in the whole steroids controversy. In fact Griffey has been known to be a player who had never worked out, until the last few seasons.

It will be interesting to see what the baseball writers will do. I think that everyone in the league who was linked to the steroids controversy will have a tough time winning any awards from now on, and that is the way it should be.

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