ST. LOUIS — Manager Mike Matheny talks a little like Dirty Harry Callahan, the iconic cop character made famous by Clint Eastwood. Not necessarily violent, but jut-jawed with a piercing glare, Matheny also seems like one who has no time for punks. So, it comes as something of a surprise that the reporter who asked Matheny on Monday night if David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox already should be declared MVP of the World Series after Game 5, still has use of his higher functions.
UPDATE: Yep, longtime reporter Howard Megdal of Sports on Earth really asked — "Is Ortiz the MVP?" — with the St. Louis Cardinals just having lost 3-1, putting themselves behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven Series as it goes back to Fenway Park:
Q: Just in total with the damage that he's done, win or lose, whether you guys come back or not, do you think Ortiz is the MVP of the series? Is that decided already in terms of what he's done?
MIKE MATHENY: That's not even a conversation we're even thinking about. We've got games to play. And we've got two games we could still win here. So that kind of stuff isn't even on our radar.
Matheny keeps his eyes on Megdal as he begins to ... repeat the question!
Q: I mean if you guys come back and win, just because he's had such a great series?
MIKE MATHENY: I don't know. Same answer.
A man's got to know his limitations, and Howard was staring down Dirty Harry Mike Matheny. Did he feel lucky, or something? If this were the movies, Matheny would have answered with something pithy, followed by some kind of comically violent response against the perp Megdal. Being a gentleman, he merely gave his steely glare:
Megdal, in an email to Big League Stew, explained where he was coming from:
"I asked the same question to John Farrell. My reasoning was this: I think it is obvious, statistically, that Ortiz is the MVP, no matter what. Had the Cardinals won, I'd have written the same, with the question carrying even more resonance. After all, a losing team World Series MVP has happened exactly once before.
"I've covered Matheny enough times that I knew this was going one of two ways — either the way it did, or by Matheny tipping his cap to Ortiz's performance. If the latter, I thought it would be useful to know how the opposing manager sized up the best World Series performance, perhaps, ever."
Sometimes, you have to ask an awkward question to get an answer. It's true that Ortiz is having one of the better World Series ever. He is batting an unreal .733, and has reached base 14 times in 19 plate appearances. Ortiz's double in the first inning brought home Boston's first run. The entire St. Louis pitching gameplan revolves around not letting Ortiz beat them. Even the out Ortiz made in the sixth inning, a line drive to the deepest part of the ballpark, was fearsome. He's a bad, bad man right now. But speculating on the Series MVP with the manager who just got the business end of Game 5 probably was inappropriate. At least the rest of the world seemed to think so. For example:
A reporter just asked Matheny if Ortiz is the MVP of the series win or lose. Serious? How is he allowed in the room? Stupid question.
— Mark Mulder (@markmulder20) October 29, 2013
And the question was ripped on MLB Network as well. There probably was a better way to get Matheny to elaborate on how Ortiz has been killing the Cardinals without posing the question into the context of whether he wins a media award for it. At least it did get Matheny to say the Cardinals have two games they need to win and aren't worrying about why they've been pushed to the brink of defeat. That answer has some value, at least, and some relevance to the Cardinals predicament.
Here's what Howard wrote for Sports on Earth. As usual, it's terrific stuff.
But we're still left wondering: Did Matheny fire six shots, or only five?
- - - - - - -