In 2014, Madison Bumgarner won the World Series MVP award. In 2017, someone will win the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award. Major League Baseball announced on Friday that Mays will receive this honor, timing the announcement to come on the anniversary of The Catch, which is one of the most iconic World Series moments in history, if not the most iconic.
This means it’s a good time to share this, which I had never seen:
On this day 1954: #Giants Willie Mays made his now iconic over-the-shoulder catch at the Polo Grounds in Game 1 of the World Series. Here's a seldom-seen reverse view of the catch and the mystery photographer who took it. pic.twitter.com/z0WmsxRXBr— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) September 29, 2017
Mays had a .444 on-base percentage in that World Series, and that catch came in the top of the eighth inning in a 2-2 game, with two runners on and no outs. Are we still talking about the catch if Dave Pope hits a sacrifice fly instead of strikes out looking two batters later? Probably! It’s a fair question, though. But he didn’t, and that catch set the tone for the Giants’ four-game sweep over the Indians, one of the greatest regular-season teams ever.
People were upset by this because Willie Mays isn’t instantly associated with World Series success, other than the most famous play in baseball history. He’s a career .239/.308/.282 hitter in the World Series in 71 at-bats, which admittedly isn’t Mays at his best. Joel Sherman mentioned those numbers and called the honor “exploiting a living player.” Others mentioned that David Ortiz would have been a better choice. And Keith Olbermann was mad about ... another award named after Babe Ruth, which wasn’t this award, but was almost definitely a semi-related award?
“I hope that you know, SIR, that the Babe Ruth award has been presented since 1949, SIR, and this befouls his memory.”
“i’m sorry, but did you want that with sriracha sauce or honey mustard?”
“The point I’m trying to make to you, SIR, is
The Babe Ruth World Series MVP Award is given out much later in the month, and it’s not presented by a nervous Ford representative. Also, it’s not the World Series MVP Award, but an award for the entire postseason. But, whatever, it’s so disrespectful to rename a different award. The important thing to remember is: Never admit when you’re wrong, even if it makes you look worse.
My response goes something like this:
- It’s Willie Mays
- Dude, seriously, Willie Mays.
- David Ortiz is probably, like, whoa, hell yeah, that’s Willie Mays, alright
- He’s responsible for the most memorable play in World Series history, other than maybe Joe Carter, Bill Mazeroski, or Bill Buckner
- Hrm, a Bill Buckner Award For Achievements In NOOOOOOO does have a nice ring to it
- Until then, shut up about Willie Mays, who is the best
- From now on, everything good that you do for the rest of your life is the Something Good You Just Did, Presented By Willie Mays.
- The reason everyone is on this planet is because their mothers had Sex, Presented By Willie Mays, and there’s no way around that
- I’m all for The Willie Mays Award for Second Base Excellence, if we’re being honest
- Willie Mays, you ingrates
Mays was, of course, humbled and tickled at the honor:
"I'd like to thank Commissioner Rob Manfred and his team at Major League Baseball for honoring me with this recognition. Baseball has always taken care of me, and for that I am grateful. I think it's just a wonderful thing to know that at 86 years of age, I can still give something back to the game. I am proud to lend my name to this important award. What a day this has been!!"
And while I do concede that there are players more associated with World Series dominance — someone mentioned Bob Gibson, which would have been fine with me — I’m not going to find reasons to nitpick any honor given to Willie Mays.
Baseball decided that it needed another way to honor Willie Mays. Upon closer inspection, I agree. You should too. Congratulations, Mr. Mays!
Now let’s all agree that if Yasiel Puig wins this award in its first year, we get to erase the last couple of years and start over.