September 16, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Kurt Mensching: Bless You Boys

World Series titles pack far more punch than individual accolades

Shortstop Jose Iglesias winning Rookie of the Year honors would offer little consolation if the Tigers are not able to win a World Series. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)

With most of the races for the postseason settled, itís that time of year we all begin debating who should win the individual awards.

That seems a bit silly, given the wild card races havenít been decided and thereís an entire postseason still in the cards. Canít we enjoy the races that remain and argue about the rest in November?

Just think, Cabrera-Trout II wonít be settled for another two months.

Oh, joy. Thatís a lot of bickering left to do.

And why do we even care how it turns out? Why are people going to spend countless pixels and barrels of ink arguing vehemently why this guy or that guy should have won an award that doesnít affect our lives or the standings?

The easy answer is that sports present a modern form of tribalism. Fans identify with a group ó Detroiters, Michiganders or maybe just other fans of their team.

Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, Jose Iglesias; these players are part the group. We want to see them do well and earn individual honors like MVP, Cy Young or Rookie of the Year.

Star power

Would it look good to others outside the area? Certainly. But does it say anything about the state, the city or the team's fans if a local player is honored for individual success? Not really. It just says Detroit is home to a team of successful individuals who play baseball.

Itís more fun when your guy does well, and if you can play a role in it, youíre going to help him get it done. That is, after all, why everyone kept clicking next to Brandon Ingeís name on the All-Star Gameís final vote in 2009 until their wrists and fingers hurt, despite knowing Inge and all-star are not ideas that generally go together.

We could also talk about getting the results right for history. Thereís a pretty good argument to be made for that.

Maybe Alan Trammellís argument for the Hall of Fame would be stronger if he won the MVP award in 1987, rather than finishing second behind Torontoís George Bell, despite being better nearly across the board. Maybe starting an All-Star Game would have helped Trammell (and his proponents) make a stronger argument.

We are right here, right now, reading and writing the baseball debates that will help frame playersí Hall of Fame candidacies a decade or two from now. We owe it to history to get it right.

Table talk

Of course, most of us, myself included, do not have an actual vote in the matter. But we can certainly talk about it and try to sway the people who do vote. And in writing columns in September, media members can try to win others to their viewpoint on an award, too.

Maybe itís just because sports are a nice release. You can talk about religion or politics and risk losing friends or professional associations. Or you can talk about sports, which have few consequences to those who enjoy them, with pretty much anyone you meet.

Except maybe if you hate the DH. Thatís one you donít want to tell people.

Itís nice to get all worked up about something that doesnít actually matter once in awhile after spending so much time around things that actually do, right?

Personally I donít get real excited about the major awards ó itís postseason success that makes a team, and its individuals, memorable.

If Cabrera, Scherzer and Iglesias earn some postseason hardware, fans will enjoy it at the moment and maybe talk about it at the start of next year.

If the players hoist a World Series trophy, fans will enjoy that and talk about it for a lifetime.

That should remain what matters most.

Kurt Mensching is the editor of Bless You Boys, a Tigers blog . He can be reached at:

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