Thursday, May 21, 2009

They're voting on the MVP awards now

I guess the big difference between baseball in a capitalist society and a communist society is the lack of money, especially for incentives. Cuba doesn't have the problems with contracts that other leagues have, particularly in the scope of incentives for post season awards:

The baseball playoff season is also a time for individual post-season honors, and Cuba is certainly no exception. It is, however, a little more difficult to find comprehensive lists of past-season winners, and that is due largely to a strange gap in the Cuban League record books. The annual guides (perhaps due to severe space restrictions and printing costs) do not carry any season MVP or Rookie-of-the-Year lists for bygone campaigns, although both these distinctions are annually announced in the Cuban sporting press.

Cuba has no other major individual awards--such as a Cy Young Award for pitchers--and there is no "official" designation of a playoff MVP. The top post-season performer has, however, been "unofficially" recognized for the past dozen seasons by Havana's Radio COCO, one of the top Cuban media outlets for coverage of the national game.

Post season awards, and the incentives for winning them, are so ingrained in MLB culture right now, that there is no going back. The off season awards are considered necessary, and MLB drags them at a snail-like pace to keep the game fresh in every one's minds during the winter. Even though they don't really need to.

I find it interesting that in today's world, a baseball league doesn't really do awards. Even little leagues hand out post season awards. Of course, Cuba doesn't have all the distractions that other countries have, and doesn't really do team sports on a large scale either. I guess when you're the only game in town, you don't have to worry about the frills. For those interested in past winners of the awards:

The complete listing of Cuban League MVP, Rookie-of-the-Year, and Post-Season MVP award winners will be available this week on the Playoff Page of our website at The list can also be accessed at
Some interesting facts:

Only a small handful of ballplayers have tacked together multiple MVP seasons, and fewer still have captured the top rookie designation and then later taken MVP honors. The only three-time winner of the MVP laurels is Omar Linares, but with Yulieski Gourriel only now reaching his peak years this may soon change.

In nearly a half century there have been but six players who have repeated as National Series league MVP, with Omar Linares the only three-time honoree. Yulieski Gourriel and earlier Wilfredo Sánchez are the only pair to wear the MVP crown in consecutive years, while the trio of Lourdes Gourriel (Yulieski's father), Cheito Rodríguez, and Michel Abreu (later in North American professional baseball) were Rookie-of-the-Year selections who later also earned the MVP distinction.

Outfielders make up the largest proportion of MVPs, with Havana's Industriales not surprisingly having produced more winners of the honor than any other single ball club. Players from Pinar del Río (including that club's several appearances under the name Vegueros) can claim seven MVPs and thus Pinar stands a close second in the team category.

With all the hype and hoopla surrounding the MVP/Cy Young/Rookie of the Year awards in MLB, this is definitely a different way of looking at it. Obviously, the Cuban League isn't too concerned about it. But I'll bet the players still are.

No comments: