The MVP Debate

      As a new season starts to take shape, teams are establishing identities and stars are being born with each passing week.  The fresh start allows each team to start with a clean slate and a chance to leave a lasting imprint on the new season.  To do so, there are players who choose to step up and lead their teams.  Each team has a player that is the team leader, whether it is the leading scorer, or the high-energy guy that is always hustling and going after every loose ball.  These players are easily defined within their own teams, but what makes one of these players the most valuable in an entire league?

The debate raged in the A1 Winter 2006 season, as Al ‘Smooth’ Delpleche and Trevor McAndrew fought all season long MVP honors.  Al Smooth had the best stats in the league, while Trevor was the best player on the only undefeated team, and had beaten Al’s team in the regular season.  Each side had its supporters, based on their view of what makes up the most valuable player.  As evidenced by the near split vote, only one point separated the two players once all the GMs in the league had cast their vote, everyone sees things a little differently.  In the end Al took it home, scoring a victory for the best statistical player in the league, but the debate was far from settled. 

Those are just two schools of thought on what makes an MVP.  Many times, as mentioned above, it comes down to the best player on the best team or the best individual performer.  However, the B1 East Winter 2006 had a vastly different situation.  MVP Mazzone lived up to his nickname, earning the trophy by being the most indispensable player in the league.  In other words, if you replaced him with the average B1 player, the teamís performance would have dropped significantly.   As was his case, carrying a team over the course of the season merits extra consideration when determining whoís the MVP.  Mazzone won easily, with Trevor a distant second, and Mazzoneís stellar statistical season only strengthened his credentials.

So how does one define ‘most valuable’ when one cannot define the parameters without knowing the context in which the season took place?  As all of the new seasons start to pick up momentum, there are always early season trends that can be spotted and favorites can be picked out of the crowd.  In the B1 East, Mazzoneís team got much better with the addition of Mark Raymond, who will alleviate some of the scoring load Mazzone carries.  Trevor’s team isn’t nearly as good as last season, so if he can carry his team he’ll garner even more support.  On the flip side, sometimes a whole team is so good; its best player is often overlooked.  Silky Johnson has been winning games in mass at CRFC for a solid year, and yet superstar Adam O’Connor hasn’t received the recognition that he fully deserves.  Will this be the year that the media recognizes his contributions that raise the level of play of not only his teammates, but his opponents as well?  I have a feeling that some of the newcomers to the league will make strong cases as well, including Joel Cuadrado, Chris Williams and Josh Rose.  A big season by one of the dark horses, Erik ‘Phi Slamma Jamma’ Brown, Mike Manning, or Mark Katz, could produce a candidate that nobody banked on when the season started. 

In the end, trying to determine who should be the MVP based on a strict set of guidelines would be like trying to determine the best movie ever.  Everyone is going to have a different opinion based on his or her particular tastes and preferences and the historical period in which the movie was viewed.  The beauty of the awards are that there will always be someone who will feel they got snubbed and will come out the next season with a bigger chip on their shoulder than Gilbert Arenas. If there were no debate, there would be no interest in the topic and no reason for anyone to write about them.  So let this seasonís deliberations begin for each league, and donít forget to let your voice be heard on the message board in the MVP debates.