In 2010, after years of rewarding the pitcher with the most wins, Cy Young voters gave the award to Felix Hernandez. The Mariners ace had gone 13-12, and the vote was celebrated by many as a victory not just for the King but for the voting process in general. The tyranny of wins was dead. The Baseball Writers Association of America, whose members vote on the award, had leapt into the modern ways of evaluating players. Our November tradition of tearing apart the down-ballot selections of baseball writers was, mercifully, over.And then the next six American League Cy Youngs went to the league leader in pitcher wins, including Rick Porcello this week. Just goes to show you ... something.On Thursday, Mike Trout won his second AL MVP award. This is the outcome I had hoped for: The best player won the award that most closely corresponds to the question, Who was the best player? Its the outcome that the BBWAA had avoided in three of the previous four seasons, when Trout was (by Wins Above Replacement, and in all three of the most prominent public models of it) the best player in baseball but the runner-up in MVP voting. The lone year he won -- 2014 -- has been the exception that proves the rule, as Trout led the league in RBIs and played on a division champion. He was the best player in baseball, too, but it didnt feel like he won that one because he was Mike Trout, you fools.In the same way that Felix Hernandezs Cy Young was supposed to mean something, Mike Trout finally winning an MVP award without any of the usual crutches of default MVP voting will seem to mean something. Resist that conclusion. This is not about the voters, and it is not about us. Its about Mike Trout, the greatest player youve ever seen, and his very good year, and a decision made by 30 men and women that is worth celebrating because it might not happen again.Voters have been struggling with what an MVP is since just about the very beginning. The MVP award was launched in a series of fits and starts, under various aegises and rules, just over a century ago. By the mid-1920s, sports-section readers could already count on columnists making a case for some player and struggling with the ambiguity in the name of the award itself. In 1927, Bob Ray of the Los Angeles Times took a shot at defining it through the lens of one candidate:Gehrig is a good guess, all right, but dont entirely overlook Signor Antonio Lazzeri, who also cavorts on the Yankee infield. Lazzeris all-around play has been one of the features of the season and his ability to fill in at any of the infield berths is one reason why the Yankees are so far out in front.The attributes that Ray laid out included: utility (Lazzeri played a bunch of positions after teammates went down); clutchness (Lazzeri has rapped most of his four baggers when they meant the ball game, one of them coming with the bases full); marketable Italianness (Lazzeri packs in the Italian fans wherever the Yankees play); and outstanding defense (fielding has been so phenomenal that eastern critics are pronouncing him Another Lajoie).In 1932, Grantland Rice argued that the underheralded second baseman Charlie Gehringer deserved consideration:One of the most self-effacing stars in baseball, Charlie Gehringer, is the punch in the Tigers attack and hes being nominated as the most valuable player in the junior league. What has Gehringer got that permits him to be mentioned in the same breath with Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth of the Yanks, and Joe Cronin of the Senators, who have been rated the key men of the American League?What, indeed. Rice mentions the knack for timely hitting, caring less about winning the batting championship than hoisting the Detroit team into a preferred position, superbly graceful (play) around the keystone sack, playing a demanding infield position and being smart in scouting opponents.In 1928, the Times made the case for Burleigh Grimes, who was an underdog to Jim Bottomley of the front-running Cardinals:There is no question that Burleighs presence on their team has inspired the Pirates. In the spring, when all the pitchers with the exception of Grimes were going bad, the team appeared listless and downhearted. There were games when they were worse than the hopeless Phillies. Now they look like one of the best teams in the league. They never would have threatened to climb out of the second division if Battling Burleigh hadnt been plugging for them.... What a man!From the beginning, there was an admirable effort put into understanding the entirety of the ballplayers contribution, and valuing those things that the ballplayers and ballclubs themselves valued. There was also, arguably, a tendency for writers to talk themselves into some terrible positions, such as Tony Lazzeri for MVP; hitting .373/.474/.765, as Gehrig did in 1927, or .364/.469/.749, as Jimmie Foxx did in 1932, might also help us define value. (Each won the MVP award.) But, presumably, Ray and Rice didnt discount those gaudy slash lines. They just aimed to make the case that a successful ballplayer often does things that didnt, as they say, show up in the box score.What the award was never meant to be was a leaderboard sort. Indeed, it was the very opposite of a leaderboard sort: The first MVP award was designed to replace the batting crown, which had been turned into a farce on the final day of the 1910 season when Nap Lajoie was allowed to bunt his way past Ty Cobb thanks to, shall we say, an anti-Cobb bias among players. As The Bill James Historical Abstract puts it, After this it was realized that it was not advisable to make such an award contingent directly on player statistics, a principle still recognized today. Instead, the Chalmers company decided to base its award -- the automobile-- upon a poll of sportswriters.The ambiguity about who should win the award, a concept so abstract that it would itself inspire a century of debate, is not, then, an accident. Its part of what makes the award fun, part of what makes it memorable, part of why players care about winning it more than they care about leading the league in WAR or any other stat. We have a basic faith in the idea of a group of people coming together with their individual perspectives on the world and voting their consciences. We believe that this is how some large truth emerges that an algorithm or a scientist cant engineer. By one way of considering the voting, there is no such thing as a bad vote that is submitted in good faith.The cost of this faith, of course, is that well hate the results much of the time -- especially now that we have an actual leaderboard that attempts to measure value itself. And concluding that Mike Trout is the most valuable baseball player in the world should be one of the easiest decisions an MVP voter gets to make in his or her life.It is certainly about time that Trout won a second award. There is no credible argument that would suggest Trout isnt the best player in his league, or that he wasnt this year.Over his five-year career, he has led the AL in Wins Above Replacement five times. You go to a different site than I do for your Wins Above Replacement? No problem: He leads the AL in all five years regardless of whether youre looking at Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus. His cumulative WAR, on Baseball-Reference, is nearly two full Mike Trout seasons better than the next best major leaguer in that time period, Robinson Cano. His cumulative WAR in those five years is greater than Manny Machado and Anthony Rizzo combined. Its as great as Jose Altuve, Yoenis Cespedes and Eric Hosmer combined. Its as great as Justin Upton, Chris Davis, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo combined. Only two players in post-integration history -- Willie Mays and Barry Bonds -- have ever produced a better five-year run than Trout has produced in his first five-year run. He is, through age 24, the greatest player in baseball history. Were not talking about a great player, a generational player, another in a line of establishment superstars. Were talking about something that history has never seen, and its happening right now, in front of us, every day -- and the continued runner-up finishes suggested we were missing it.His 2016 season was as good as any of the previous four. He matched a career high for OPS, set new ones for walks and on-base percentage, remembered after two quiet baserunning seasons that hes a top-tier base stealer, and by some advanced metrics had the best defensive season he has had since he was a rookie. His 10.6 WAR on Baseball-Reference is nearly equal to his best ever, and is a mark that only seven other human beings have accomplished since integration.What will Mike Trout accomplish in his career? Very little is off the table. Through age 24, he has the seventh-most home runs ever, with exactly twice as many as Barry Bonds had and 28 more than Hank Aaron did at that age. Hes 13th in hits, with a 400-hit head start on Pete Rose. Hes seventh in runs, 15th in runs batted in, sixth in total bases, fifth in extra-base hits, fourth in times on base. He is building a career that might demolish records and define our memories of an entire generation of baseball.You would like to think well have no fuzz on those memories, but the truth is that these awards go a long way to how we define and remember a career. Big round numbers do, too, but those numbers are affected by so many things that are hard to account for in our heads a half-century later: the run-scoring environment of the era, the ballpark he played in, for instance, but more than that. In 50 years, who even knows which stats well look at, or what well value in a player. Theres a pretty good chance well be measuring modern players in the future using data that dont even exist yet for Trout, and that we cant go back to collect retroactively. What we will have, what will be permanent, are these annual assessments by the BBWAA. And in a just world, Mike Trout, just a couple months past his 25th birthday, would already have five MVP awards. You would care to see that.Two, at least, is better than one. Its a victory worth celebrating.But Im skeptical its a victory any broader than that. Late last month, the players voted on Sporting News MLB Player of the Year. Their winner was Jose Altuve. Mookie Betts finished second, followed by David Ortiz, Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy and finally Mike Trout. Five players on contending teams, who all helped their team win or stay close to a division crown, ahead of Trout, whose team played for nothing. That has been one of Trouts challenges in winning the MVP award, before this year: He hasnt been playing on postseason teams, and some years, for some players, some voters decide thats important. But thats the MVP award. Notice whats missing in the Sporting News MLB Player of the Year Award name? The word value. The voters for this award decided five other major leaguers played better than Mike Trout because they just didnt care enough to get it right.This years MVP voters did care enough to get it right, or, at least, the definition they chose for most valuable player corresponded to my definition. Those voters, though, total 30. There are more than 700 active BBWAA members. In a sample of less than 5 percent of members, by an extremely thin margin, voters chose Mike Trout. Its hardly a radical realignment of values. Scramble the members up, have them vote again, and its quite possible Trout would have finished second or third, again.This is OK! Trouts legacy is bolstered by the hardware, but it is not so fragile as to depend on these votes. Honus Wagners career almost entirely predated the MVP award, and he never won one. Babe Ruth played in an era when players were allowed to win it only once, and so he won it only once. Willie Mays led National League hitters in WAR 10 times but won only two awards. Are any of these careers underrecognized by history? Do you know anybody who doesnt know what Babe Ruth represented? Can you find anybody who lived through Willie Mays career who would tell you that he was underappreciated even then?Trout might deserve 15 of these in his career. He might win two, and he might win a dozen. When he wins one, we toast to the greatest player alive. When he loses one, we still toast to the greatest player alive. http://www.packersrookiestore.com/Packers-Richard-Rodgers-Jersey/ . On Tuesday, Ottawa placed forward Cory Conacher and defenceman Joe Corvo on waivers as trade rumours swirl around the Senators. http://www.packersrookiestore.com/Packers-Jamaal-Williams-Jersey/ . -- Jimmy Walkers first PGA Tour trophy came with a special gift tucked inside. http://www.packersrookiestore.com/Packers-Justin-Vogel-Jersey/ . Third-seeded Murray had the easiest path to victory on New Years Eve, barely breaking a sweat during his 6-0, 6-0 win over 2,129th-ranked Qatari wildcard recipient Mousa Shanan Zayed. http://www.packersrookiestore.com/Packers-Ladarius-Gunter-Jersey/ . Both players have lower body injuries that will keep them out of the lineup until at least January 31, which is the first game they can be activated from IR. http://www.packersrookiestore.com/Packers-Quinten-Rollins-Jersey/ . Hargreaves began his career in 2008 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and has played with the Edmonton Eskimos and last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Week 2 in college football was supposed to be the calm before the coming storm.After an opening week in which seven Associated Press Top 25 teams fell, Saturday was supposed to be, at least on paper, a lot less dramatic. There wasnt a single matchup of Top 25 teams, but the college football gods once again provided us with plenty to cheer about.A crowd of 156,990, the largest ever to see a college football game, watched No. 17 Tennessee lap Virginia Tech 45-24 at Bristol Motor Speedway. No. 9 Georgia almost lost to an FCS team for the first time in 76 years, and Central Michigan stunned No. 22 Oklahoma State 30-27 on a Hail Mary-and-lateral that should have never happened.We were given indisputable evidence as to why classic rivalries such as BYU-Utah and Penn State-Pittsburgh need to be played every season, and why picking a Big 12 team to make the College Football Playoff probably isnt a good bet. And we were reminded why its unwise to sleep on the Pac-12. Strange things happen in that conference after much of the country has gone to sleep.Sure, Week 2 probably wasnt as good as the opening act of the 2016 season, but it was pretty entertaining and satisfying -- unless youre Alabama coach Nick Saban or an Oklahoma State fan.The Cowboys were on the wrong end of one of the worst blown calls in college football history on Saturday. On the final play of the game, Central Michigan wide receiver Corey Willis caught a lateral from Jesse Kroll at OSUs 12-yard line after a Hail Mary and ran into the end zone for an improbable 51-yard touchdown with no time left.The only problem: The play should have never happened. MAC and Big 12 officials admitted after the game that it should have ended before the Chippewas were awarded an untimed down on the final play.With four seconds left, Pokes quarterback Mason Rudolph threw an incomplete pass to the left sideline to run out the clock on fourth down. But since no Oklahoma State receivers ran routes on the play, the Cowboys were penalized for intentional grounding. Apparently believing the game couldnt end on an accepted live-ball foul, officials incorrectly gave Central Michigan one more play from its 49-yard line, which resulted in the Hail Mary and lateral.OSU coach Mike Gundy admitted that he shouldnt have called a passing play on fourth down. A running play would have ended the game.Even if the officials handled it incorrectly, it was still a dumb call on my part, regardless, Gundy said.The Cowboys werent the only ranked team feeling empty after Week 2. Georgia turned the ball over three times and nearly blew a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 26-24 win over Nicholls State. No. 2 Clemson had trouble putting Troy away at Death Valley. For the second week in a row, the Tigers looked sluggish, this time in a 30-24 victory.Everybody wants to see us score 50 points, 60 points and everybody wants it now, said Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw for 292 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Were not going to do that. First weve got to execute and find our rhythm.That hasnt been a problem so far for No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan. The Buckeyes blasted Tulsa 48-3 at home, their fourth consecutive game with at least 40 points. The Wolverines beat UCF 51-14 at the Big House, giving them 114 points in their first two games.No. 1 Alabama didnt have many problems in its 38-10 win over Western Kentucky, but Saban was hardly pleased with his teams effort.?I dont know that Ive ever been this disappointed after winning a game, maybe ever, Saban said.In the final minute, Saban was so upset that he screamed at offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for what seemed like an eternity.There are no arguments, Saban said afterward. Those are called ass-chewings.At least the Crimson Tide won. No. 15 TCU turned a 13-point deficit to Arkansas into a 28-20 lead with 2:05 to play. But the Hogs forced overtime with a touchdown and a two-point conversion and blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt near the end of regulation. They won the game when?Austin Allen?ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the second overtime of a 41-38 victory.?As for the Pac-12, well, they dont call it #Pac12AfterDark for nothing. Arizona States?Kalen Ballage?tied an NCAA record with eight touchdowns in the Sun Devils 68-55 win over Texas Tech. Washington State and Cal saw late rallies come up short against Boise State and San Diego State, respectively, while Arizona needed to rally to avoid a shocking upset against Grambling State.?On a day when we expected many you-know-what-kickings, we were once again given everything we could have asked for -- and then some.Playoff teams after Week 21. Alabama: Only Nick Saban would be dissatisfied with a 38-10 victory. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 287 yards with two touchdowns on 23-for-36 passing in the win over Western Kentucky, but the Tide averaged only 3.2 yards on 39 rushing attempts and committed 12 penalties.2. Florida State: The Seminoles cruised to a 52-8 win over FCS foe Charleston Southern; next week, FSU will face off against No. 13 Louisville in an ACC Atlantic showdown. Deondre Francois vs. Lamar Jackson. Thats must-see TV.3. Michigan: The Wolverines walloped UCF 51-14 at home after scoring 63 points in their opening win over Hawaii. Michigans 114 points in its first two games are the most by a Wolverines team since 1914 and fourth most in school history.dddddddddddd4. Ohio State: OSUs offense didnt get rolling until the second half, after a lightning delay and torrential downpour at The Horseshoe. But its defense had two pick-sixes in the first half of a 48-3 rout of Tulsa. Next up: a trip to No. 14 Oklahoma on Saturday.Next four in contention1. Houston: The Cougars had to play without injured quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (shoulder) and endured a marathon lightning delay but eventually shut out FCS foe Lamar 42-0. The Cougars had three players with more than 100 yards rushing, and their defense allowed a school-record 73 yards.2. Clemson: The Tigers have yet to find their rhythm on offense. They averaged 45 points per game in their first two games in 2015; theyre averaging 24.5 in their two games this season.?Deshaun Watson?posted the lowest QBR (35) in his career in a 30-24 win over Troy.3. Louisville: The Cardinals steamrolled Syracuse 62-28 on the road Friday night, and now they get to play Florida State at home on Saturday in a game that might go a long way in deciding which team wins the ACC Atlantic.4. Wisconsin: The Badgers certainly dont look like a fluke. After stunning then-No. 5 LSU 16-14 in its opener, Wisconsin blasted Akron 54-10. The bad news: Star tailback Corey Clement left the game with a leg injury.Heisman candidates1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: In Louisvilles victory at Syracuse on Friday night, Jackson set a school and ACC record with 610 yards of total offense. In his past three games, including last seasons bowl, he has 1,468 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns.2. Deondre Francois, QB, FSU: The redshirt freshman followed up his fabulous debut against Ole Miss on Monday night by completing 25 of 32 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in a rout of FCS foe Charleston Southern.3.?Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders fell to Arizona State 68-55, with Mahomes passing for 540 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. The junior passed for 483 yards and accounted for six touchdowns in limited action in a season-opening win over Stephen F. Austin.4.?DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: After throwing five touchdowns in a loss to Texas in Week 1, Kizer completed 15 of 18 passes for 156 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a 39-10 victory over Nevada. He has seven passing touchdowns (and two more running) with one interception in two games.Best momentsBest plays3. Arizona States?Kalen Ballage?had only 13 carries and two receptions, but it was enough for eight touchdowns. He gets the nod with his record-tying eighth touchdown in the Sun Devils win over Texas Tech.4. LSUs TreDavious White looked as if he was getting himself into serious trouble but managed this escape act on a punt return for a touchdown in LSUs win over Jacksonville State.Worst plays2. Another week, another USC ejection. Trojans offensive tackle Chuma Edoga was kicked out of the game in the first quarter for pushing an official and throwing a punch at a Utah State player.3. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorleys decision to throw for the end zone with 2:15 left probably wasnt the wisest one. Pitts Ryan Lewis intercepted the ball to preserve a 42-39 win.4. UConn coach Bob Diacos clock management isnt as good as his fettuccine alfredo recipe.Tweets of the nightQuotes of the night1. We came in here and outhit those guys today. Theres no doubt about which team was hitting harder. -- UCF coach Scott Frost, after the Knights 51-14 loss at Michigan.2. It just means now I have to do something better so people dont always think of that play when they talk about me. -- Clemsons Ray-Ray McCloud, on his fumble at the goal line after a 75-yard punt return.3. We cant change guys out. Weve got no free agency. Weve got no cuts. So we have to take what weve got, and weve got to get those guys better. Theyve got to play better. -- Georgia coach Kirby Smart, on his offensive line, which was manhandled in a 26-24 win over FCS foe Nicholls State.4. Sometimes when were down, a lot of people on our team just tend to quit and think its over, and I dont think its over until its actually over. -- Kentucky linebacker Jordan Jones, after the Wildcats 45-7 loss at Florida.Stats that matter1. 20: Years since Army started a season 2-0 before beating Rice 31-14. The Black Knights hadnt won their first two games since 1996, when they won a school-record 10 games. With Navy and Air Force also winning their first two games, the three service academies are each 2-0 for the first time since 1996.2. 30: Consecutive wins for Florida over Kentucky after a 38-point victory. Its the fourth-longest winning streak in an annual series in FBS history and the current longest streak over one opponent.3. 40: Career touchdowns for Pitts James Conner, who scored two touchdowns in Pitts win over Penn State. He joined Tony Dorsett as the only Pitt players with 40 career total touchdowns.4. 516: It has been a tale of two halves for TCU quarterback?Kenny Hill. In the Horned Frogs two games, he has passed for 300 yards and one touchdown in the first half of games, and 516 yards and seven touchdowns in the second half (including overtime). 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t123, 09.10.2018 06:28