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Posted: Monday September 15, 2008 4:02PM; Updated: Monday September 15, 2008 4:02PM
John Donovan John Donovan >

Postseason races tighten up (cont.)

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John Donovan's Mailbag
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From the Mailbag

After watching Tim Lincecum pitch on Saturday night (a complete-game, four-hit shutout), how can there be any debate over who wins the National League Cy Young? He leads the league in strikeouts, ERA and winning percentage. His winning percentage is even higher than Brandon Webb, who has one thing going for him -- 20 wins. Is that still the judge in today's era? Twenty wins means Cy Young, even if another pitcher is leading you in three major categories? Some say Lincecum has an unfair advantage because he throws in the pitcher's playground of AT&T Park. But his ERA is 2.13 on the road. While I realize there are still a few starts left, people shouldn't even be talking about this.
-- Chris Issel, Foster City, Calif.

Well, Chris, we should be talking. Sure we should be talking. And that's good for Lincecum. Look, to me, this debate comes down to Webb (he had a good win Friday, and two more of those could go a long way), Sabathia (though, personally, I'm less inclined to go with a guy who has pitched only a half-year in the NL), Santana (who's been very good, too) and Lincecum. I also think voters are becoming less swayed by wins, winning percentage and team success. (That's also good for Lincecum.) It's going to be close. Lincecum absolutely could win this thing. But not talk about it? What fun would that be?

John, do you think Manny Ramirez is in the mix for NL MVP? I figure Pujols is the front-runner and Lance Berkman is up there as well, but Manny has been unholy since the trade and put the Dodgers in the driver's seat for a playoff spot. Then again, I suppose the same things are true about CC, and I don't know if he's a contender, either.
-- Marino Eccher, Woodbury, Minn.

Good question. If you think Sabathia ought to be considered for the Cy Young, you should certainly give some weight to what Ramirez has done for the Dodgers. I suspect voters will resist giving an MVP nod to Ramirez on the same grounds they back off on Sabathia; not enough NL service time. I would caution, though, that if you're going to credit Manny with resurrecting the Dodgers, you may have to re-think things if the Dodgers stumble in the last couple of weeks. And I, for one, am not convinced the Dodgers are as good as they've been playing in the last two weeks. I could be wrong.

John, Joel "I Injured My Wrist Playing Guitar Hero" Zumaya has fractured his shoulder. Any truth to the rumor he did it playing Top Spin 3 Tennis on Nintendo Wii?
-- Jeffrey Truax, Toronto

Ha. The way things have gone for the Tigers this year, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

As far as the AL Central goes, which of the two teams do you see going deeper into the playoffs?
-- Matt H., Brainerd, Minn.

I like the Twins better, and not just because of your return address. The White Sox can do some heavy damage -- they lead the league in home runs -- but they have trouble scoring when they don't knock the ball out of the park. The Twins actually score more runs per game -- 5.18 to 5.01 before Sunday -- and in the postseason you need to be able to manufacture runs against good pitching.

What's up with fans of teams these days being referred to as "nations"? You even referred to the Red Sox Nation in your latest column. I didn't figure for you to be a guy who buys into a euphemism such as this. At least you didn't follow the lead of the four letter sports channel and just dub Sox fans as "the Nation." Yuck! Yours truly, Jared, Member of Cubs "Nation." Ooh, it is kinda catchy after all.
-- Jared, Little Rock, Ark.

I know, It's weak. I was kind of mocking it, to be honest. "Nations" are all over the place these days. I even read about "Braves Nation" in the Atlanta paper. That's one of the smaller, quieter nations, of course. They're isolationists.

I guess Cliff Lee will earn the AL Cy Young, but how does K-Rod not win the MVP? He's going to earn a save in more than half of the Angels victories this year and has another two wins (as of this writing). Is there any other player who has had a bigger impact on his team?
-- Juan R., Panama City, Panama

Not with you on this one. I appreciate what Francisco Rodriguez has done as much as the next guy. But I'm just not into giving an MVP award to someone who, to put it bluntly, plays so little. He has appeared in only 70 games. He hasn't pitched more than one inning in any of his appearances this year, and he has never thrown more than 33 pitches any time he's taken the mound. He threw fewer than 10 pitches in 35 games, by my count. He doesn't even lead his bullpen in innings pitched. And you're going to call that more valuable than a guy who plays eight or nine innings in 160-plus games a year? I'd consider K-Rod. But, no, I can't call him an MVP. Not even close.

As a former catcher, I've always wondered why it is acceptable to knock the head off a catcher (as Chase Utley recently did) but not acceptable to return the favor and put him six rows into the left field pavilion? Seems to me turnabout is fair play.
-- Keith McLeod, Hollywood, Calif.

Yeah, I've always contended that catchers get a raw deal on this. They can block the plate and get absolutely abused by a guy who has a running start and is often coming at full speed -- really, how fair is that? -- or give a runner a sliver of plate and be considered a wimp. And I especially hate when catchers give the runner some plate and they still get lit up by guys taking cheap shots. Happens all the time. Just not right.

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