To the Editor:
Imagine if Major League Baseball were to simplify the Cy Young selection process along the lines of how we measure students, teachers, and schools in the public school system. It might be reported something like this:
“Major League Baseball, in a long-overdue decision, has decided to skip the normal selection process and boil the Cy Young Awards down to one measurement. Each eligible pitcher will report to Wrigley Field in Chicago on Jan. 1, 2017, and throw one pitch. The pitch speed will be measured on a radar gun and its miles-per-hour recorded. One Cy Young Award will be given to the pitcher who throws the fastest that day.
“‘The concept of having one winner from each league is flawed and ridiculous,’ said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. ‘Let’s make the process much more simple and straightforward. The notion that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America should vote based on win/loss records, earned-run averages, walks-plus-hits per innings pitched, completed games, adjusted ERA, strikeouts per nine innings, strikeout-to-walk ratios, etc., is senseless. Let’s just measure one thing on one day.’
“A bystander asked, ‘Why an outdoor stadium in January in a cold-weather climate? Won’t this impact a pitcher’s performance and possibly his health? How many warm-up pitches will each pitcher get? What does the speed of one pitch during the off-season have to do with who is the best pitcher?’
“Mr. Manfred retorted, ‘The date and location are arbitrary—as long as the conditions are the same for all pitchers, a little snow and freezing temperatures aren’t a real problem. As for warm-ups, the answer is none. We’re coddling the athletes as it is. My thought? Let them throw the ball, and we’ll see what happens. May the best pitcher win.’
“The bystander said, ‘This is too arbitrary and does not fairly represent who does well in a given season. Different pitchers throw at different velocities and may be equally effective. The current system takes a huge variety of statistical measures and has expert baseball writers evaluate and vote on who is best. That makes more sense.’
“Mr. Manfred merely harrumphed and said, ‘Too bad. Even if it doesn’t measure overall effectiveness, doing it this way makes my life easier. That’s the important thing.’ ”
Kevin J. O’Mara
Argo Community High School
A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2016 edition of Education Week as What If Baseball Awards Were Assessed Like Student and Teacher Evaluations?