Ponson as NLDS MVP? – You Read it Here First

A light-hearted look at a new award, initially created right here at stlcardinals.scout.com.

This crazy invention of Al Gore's called the internet has fostered an environment where no one's roles are totally clear anymore. For example, bloggers everywhere strive to be considered legitimate journalists, while mainstream writers scratch their collective itch to join the more edgy and real-time-driven generation out there in the blogosphere.

That multi-faceted machine known as ESPN has joined in this "new" blogging phenomenon, but not without some bumps, however. Take ESPN's Baseball Insider page (subscription required). In bold capital letters, they tout the new blog of their most famous and decorated baseball writer, one "Peter Gammon", blatantly misspelling his name in the process.

And so, in the process, ESPN has hereby been initiated into life in the blogging world, where confirmed sightings of editors who can actually spell are as rare as those of Osama bin Laden (who is also English language-challenged, I understand).

Baseball writer Jayson Stark has joined the many in ESPN's fledgling blogger ranks, sharing his often off-the-wall tidbits with their Insider subscribers. In his most recent entry, while reading the fine print in a stack of player contracts, Stark unearthed this nugget:

"…the Cardinals are in even less danger of writing any checks on the Division Series MVP bonuses they doled out to four free agents this winter (Sidney Ponson, Junior Spivey, Gary Bennett and Juan Encarnacion). That, of course, is because there is no such thing as a Division Series MVP award. By the way, only one other player in the whole sport negotiated one of those clauses with a team other than the Cardinals -- Endy Chavez, with the Mets."

This creative contract language looks like the handiwork of wily Cardinals assistant general manager John Mozeliak, who over time has been given more responsibility for negotiating contracts by his boss, General Manager Walt Jocketty. "Mo", who interviewed with the Cincinnati Reds for their GM position earlier this month, seems to be learning well from the master the fine technique of giving adversaries the sleeves out of his vest.

Mozeliak was unavailable for comment, as he has been dispatched to the Dominican Republic this week to help translate the words "Get me out of here!" from Spanish to English and back to Spanish for local authorities on behalf of several Cardinals players who are having visa problems. Of course, a large wad of cash for some mordidas could also improve matters.

However, in Mo's absence, we here at stlcardinals.scout.com have good news for these four new Cardinals players who no-doubtedly have become unnecessarily anxious about their prospective MVP checks being at risk. We anticipated this NLDS Most Valuable Player Award need and addressed it well in advance of it ever becoming an issue. Likely Mozeliak, a reader of this site, was well-aware of our actions and took that into consideration when negotiating these contracts.

You see, back on October 9, we stepped decisively into the void created by Major League Baseball and named Reggie Sanders the winner of our own 2005 National League Division Series Most Valuable Player Award. (link) And look what it got him - a one-way ticket to Kansas City!

Note to the players involved: If you actually earn this coveted award on the field this coming October, we expect to receive your agent's customary cut of the proceeds. Otherwise, all bets are off with Bo Hart probably holding a better chance of winning than you!

What's next?

Continuing our quest in wanting to learn more dirt from Stark and his peers is a major challenge for most. In looking around, I see that many of the ESPN blogs are Insider-based, which I can understand.

But, sadly, the average fan (or even subscriber) can't actually write to these guys, since their email addresses are rumored to be kept in a hermetically-sealed jar in Gammons' refrigerator. One reason is that they are probably tired of all those East Coast-biased negative reactions from readers by now. And if they aren't, they well should be. Or maybe it is Stark's prediction of Braden Looper as the worst free agent signing of the year, 12 months after he proclaimed David Eckstein as 2005's worst.

But, don't despair. We know where to look to find Stark. And here is what he told me about the target of his next investigation:

"I'm looking into a rumor that Sidney Ponson also tried to negotiate a $50,000 bonus if he wins an Academy Award. But that looks like a bad rumor!"

Frankly, I think it is a bad hair joke. Sir Sid may have had a better chance in Hollywood with his previous Yul Brynner look. But once he pockets his $50,000 this fall (minus our share) for becoming the 2006 NLDS MVP, maybe he won't crave the bright movie lights, anyway!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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