Of course. Of course it was. As we tried to point out, he was a punk with possible mental health issues. He was unreliable. The whole thing was a shame, and I think a lot of people out there regret it. Still, that was last year, and we have to think positive. Unlike '09, Sabathia has given us a bit more to work with this season. There's no doubt in my mind that he's the best candidate this season. So consider this your primer, as you hit the streets and hand out buttons and post flyers, for how to speak to the voters.
Wins, wins, and more wins. This should be the first and last word out of your mouth. America loves a winner. And who leads the American League in wins? CC Sabathia, gang. 17 wins. Two more than the nearest competitor. He'll probably finish with more than 20 wins, and there's a solid chance he'll be the only one to pass that milestone. And really, why would you look at any other statistic? Isn't it kind of odd that they don't just give the Cy Young to the wins leader? Isn't that what's most important in baseball? Seems pretty cut and dry, right?
2. Innings pitched
If you have to talk about a second stat, go with innings pitched. Again, CC Sabathia is near the top of the league. This stat shows dependability. I mean, look at the man. He's big, strong, and reliable. Just like a western hero. Just like John Wayne. He's the kind of player America needs in these tough times. He goes deep into every game. I'm no economist, but I'd be willing to bet that if CC wins the Cy Young, it would create jobs. At the very least, it would make America feel good about itself. If you vote against CC, you're voting against the American ideal.
Here's a stat that every American can understand. A strikeout is a basic part of the game. It's one man, all alone on a hill, asserting his will on another man 60 feet away. Among all viable Cy Young candidates, CC has the second-most strikeouts. Not bad, right? When you combine that with wins and total innings, he's clearly the best pitcher in the world.
4. Name, Origins
I've already touched on this, but it's important to emphasize CC's 'Americanness.' His last name, Sabathia, can be off-putting and even frightening for the heartland types, and those are the people we're really trying to persuade. So try to refer to him as just 'CC' whenever possible, and 'Chuck' in lighter moments (his middle name is Charles...avoid his first name, 'Carsten,' which sounds foreign and aggressive). When you talk about where he's from, say 'Oakland.' 'Yeah, CC's just an all-American boy from Oakland,' you might say. Don't use 'California,' which is known for liberalism and open homosexuality, or his real home town, 'Vallejo,' which is Spanish-sounding and therefore threatening.
To re-cap: CC is a born and bred American, an Oakland boy through and through, who loves apple pie and proms.
With most of the voters, you shouldn't have to go beyond these four main points. However, that's not always the case. Sometimes, you'll run up against reactionary types who want to expand the argument into areas that make the rest of us uncomfortable. These people are called "eggheads."
Last year, the eggheads got their way, and Zach Greinke won the Cy Young award. It didn't matter that he had like 12 wins, or played for a team that's basically in the minor leagues. The eggheads spouted their statistical nonsense, and he won.
But where is Greinke this year? He's 8-11, with a 3.73 ERA. I think it's fair to say that America has learned its lesson. Enough with the egghead Cy Young winners, they're saying. We've been on the streets, we've heard their voices. They want someone they can count on. Not some trendy nerd choice who will let them down the next year. This isn't France.
Remember when Eisenhower beat Adlai Stevenson in '52? Me either, but apparently while Stevenson was giving 'thoughtful' speeches around the nation (translation: he was nerding it up and thinking he was better than everyone else), the Eisenhower people won with the slogan "I Like Ike." Simple, honest, beautiful. And it really puts the eggheads in their place, because when something is simple enough, you can't really argue with it. Why? Because there's nothing to dispute. I Like Ike. The sky is blue. CC Wins.
Folks, I'm going to repeat it, and I suggest you memorize it: CC Wins.
And what do the other candidates have? Let's go through the various 'stats' that Marvin Nerdbottom and his cronies will try to throw out to derail our candidate.
ERA - Earned Run Average
You say: Hmmm, sounds complicated. Are we even sure what it means? Hey, I'm a football fan- who isn't these days, it's something all good Americans love- and this reminds me a lot of quarterback rating. It's interesting, but it's also pretty complicated. And at the end of the day, they don't hand the super bowl trophy out to the guy with the highest quarterback rating, right? Look, we admire the stats guys. We think they're trying really hard, and that's great. But ERA? Sorry, America's just not ready for that.
(Caveat: CC is top 5 in ERA, and is nearly under the 3.0 threshold. If you can manage it, mention this much later in the argument when you think the voter won't remember how you disparaged the stat earlier.)
WHIP - Walks Plus Hits per Inning Pitched
You say: Sounds like something you'd get arrested for where I'm from!
(This kind of folksy language should be employed often as a deflection technique.)
FIP - Field Independent Pitching
This is a sabermetric stat, and one you don't really have to worry about. If anyone brings it up, just ask them to explain how it's calculated. They won't know, and you'll both share a good laugh when they fail. If they do know, wait until they begin their explanation, throw both hands up in the air, and go "hey Einstein, you got me! I submit!" You may not win that person over, but everyone watching will have a good laugh and realize that the other guy is being unreasonable.
Okay, you're thinking, but what about when the voters bring up individual pitchers? Great point. Let's take a peek at the potential challengers to CC's Award.
1) Felix Hernandez
The Problem: Remember when we said that CC was second in innings pitched and strikeouts among viable Cy Young candidates? Well, Felix is first in both categories.
Your Response: Am I crazy, or was Cy Young himself an American? And isn't major league baseball played in America (nobody will care about Toronto, you're on safe ground here)? So why on earth would we give the award to someone who's not even American? Doesn't make sense to me. Also, Felix is 9-10 on the year. We're not saying he doesn't have talent. On the contrary, he seems to have great talent. But someone with that much ability who can't even go .500 must have serious work ethic issues. Felix Hernandez is un-American, and he's lazy.
2) Clay Buchholz
The Problem: Clay is close behind in wins at 15, and he has the league's lowest ERA at 2.26.
Your Response: Buchholz, huh? I don't mean to talk behind someone's back, but that name sounds awfully Polish. Did you know that William McKinley, our 25th president, was assassinated by an anarchist from Poland? 'Anarchist,' by the way, is what they used to call Muslim extremists. Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh right, ERA. Unfortunately I don't have a giant super-computer, so I can't really tell you what that means, but did you know CC Sabathia saved a drowning child in the Pacific Ocean?
3) Cliff Lee
The Problem: He's only walked 11 people on the year. He might be the first pitcher to have more wins than walks. Also, he's the classic American boy, Arkansas-raised, gruff, and manly.
Your Response: I think we can all recognize the good qualities in Cliff Lee. Absolutely. Hey, did you notice he's with Texas now? Crazy, right? And before that he was with Seattle, and just last year he played for Philadelphia and Cleveland. He must be a hard guy to like, right? I'm kidding, of course, because surely Cliff Lee is all-American and we should praise him. But why don't American fans like him? I'm not sure. Maybe you can tell me. But he was rejected by Cleveland and Seattle and Philadelphia, and word has it that he'll be turned away by Texas when this season is over. Can you really trust someone who can't stay in one place for more than a few months? I mean...can you really?
Okay, gang, thanks for coming. I think you're armed with smart tactics and good information, and I know you're ready to pound the pavement. Take some buttons on your way out. Ten per person, please. This is our year, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. CC Sabathia is America's choice.
While the rest of the world flounders, and the eggheads with their desperate numbers sputter and flail...