Here are my plans for the offseason: I'm going to chase every rumor, concoct fake trades, argue about the trades that do happen, and build a roster for my favorite team in my own little mind. Your plans might be a little different, but not much, I'd reckon. It's the Hot Stove League, where we all sit around and warm ourselves by building fictitious World Series champions with fictitious moves.
There are about 30 people who get to play the Hot Stove League for real, though. They're paid to do it, and it's as important as the on-field stuff. The Giants didn't win the World Series on a called third strike*; they won it when they decided Marco Scutaro was worth the price of Charlie Culberson, or when they thought the relative youth and health of Angel Pagan was a better gamble than the defense of Andres Torres.
We play at the Hot Stove League because it's entirely relevant. We're going to talk about baseball games for seven months next year, and the outcomes will all be based on the five months that happen between now and April. The players are the moving parts of a machine, but the GMs are the engineers. They're as important to what happens as any individuals in the game.
In related news, Billy Beane won the Executive of the Year award, and you didn't notice or care.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 19 stories indexed on Google News about the award. Only three of them expressed some sort of opinion on the matter, while the rest were straight news. The Sporting News polled 57 major-league executives to decide the award, and Beane was the runaway winner.
He should have been. He turned Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez into close to a dozen players who will help the A's for the next five years. He signed a Cuban enigma to a deal that looks like a stunning bargain right now. He took a team that was supposed to finish last, and he toppled the reigning American League Champions.
But we didn't get to argue about who was going to finish second, dammit. That's what the awards are about, at least to me: the debates. I'm not even sick of the Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera articles yet, and I'm close to finishing them all. Just 12,003 left. And there are also Wade Miley arguments to sift through, David Price missives, and steel-cage matches between proponents of Dusty Baker and Davey Johnson. It's awards season, which means it's debate season, and it's an excellent way to pass the time without any games to watch.
Why don't we have the same debates about the Executive of the Year? We certainly should.
Part of the reason is The Sporting News gives the award, so it's separate from the Baseball Writers' Association of America awards that we're used to. We're so used to the timing and sequence of the BBWAA awards, maybe it's hard to notice an award from a different organization before the famous awards are handed out.
There are two solutions:
1. Make a concerted effort to talk up the existing award. We start talking about the MVP in July. Why not the EOTY? We should also give it a catchy name. The Eohtees. The Ee-tees. The Gen-Mans. Whatever, we'll figure that out later.
2. Politely ask the BBWAA to have their own version that they'll promote as much as the Manager of the Year or Rookie of the Year. I heard that online petitions always work. Maybe we should start one of those.
It's kind of amazing that we don't spend more time arguing about this. There should be an infomercial to spread the word.
For the time it takes to read one Jack-Morris-should-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame argument ...
... you could have 16 arguments about who will win the General Manager of the Year.
Dan Duquette didn't get a vote this year, but Kenny Williams did. Shouldn't we be upset? Or was that justified? Shouldn't someone write an angry column?
Nope. Because no one really notices. They made a movie about a GM, you know. It was nominated for Oscars and everything. It's probably about time to recognize their contributions to the sport with a shiny trophy, too. Even better: one for the AL, and one for the NL. There are still things to talk about in the offseason, but there could be more.
* They also won it on a called third strike. I have video. E-mail me for details.