Rigged awards destroy the integrity of all awards, and every time an award based on merit is transformed into a cheap Hallmark card that means no more than “We really think you’re swell!”, I pray that the next recipient refuses it on the grounds that the award is a sham. The classic example, of course, was the Nobel Peace Prize given to Barack Obama for no reason whatsoever, but Mariano Rivera’s 2013 Major League All-Star Game MVP Award was equally blatant.
Rivera, in case you pay no attention to baseball, is the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history; there really are no close contenders. He is about as good as ever this season—-I have always suspected he was a cyborg—but is retiring at the age of 43 anyway. Thus this year’s All-Star Game in New York City’s Citi Field was his last, and Rivera’s entrance to pitch the 8th inning was the high-point of the game, with all of his colleagues in both dugouts applauding and cheering a great career.
Rivera, typically, pitched a scoreless frame; he’s never given up an earned run in nine All-Star appearances. He was not, however, by any stretch of the imagination, the game’s most valuable player. The American League won the game 3-0, so all of its pitchers pitched as well as Rivera. Starting pitcher Chris Sale pitched two scoreless innings, making him twice as valuable in the win as the Yankee great. Joe Nathan pitched scoreless ninth for the Al, getting him the save—he was also more valuable. Eight different AL players contributed to the three runs scored; any of them were more valuable in the win than Rivera.
But the MVP Award went to Rivera anyway. He doesn’t need another trophy, specially one he didn’t earn. Still, the baseball writers who vote on the honor really, really like Mariano, so what’s integrity? What’s fairness? Who cares if baseball is giving support to all the employees who got promotions and excessive bonuses because they sucked up to the boss, while more deserving candidates looked on, cursing? After all, it’s just an exhibition game MVP Award.
It’s not like it’s the Nobel Peace Prize.