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Terry Pluto defends voting Joe Maddon No. 2 for AL Manager of the Year



Terry Pluto, a veteran columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, has gone through pretty much everything in his 30-plus years in journalism, from winning awards to writing more than a dozen books.

"But this," Pluto told the Times this morning, "Is a new one."

Pluto was the voter who kept Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon from being the first unanimous Manager of the Year Award recipient in baseball history. Maddon received 27 of 28 first place votes, with the Minnesota Twins' Ron Gardenhire getting the other. The Anaheim Angels' Mike Scioscia was third.

Pluto voted Gardenhire No. 1 and Maddon No. 2, and joked he now has "many fans in Tampa" after getting more than 20 emails from puzzled Rays fans.

But here's Pluto's explanation:

Gardenhire's Twins didn't make the playoffs (they lost in  one-game playoff with the White Sox for the AL Central title), but voting was done in the final week of the regular season. Pluto said he has absolutely nothing against Maddon, whom he has a lot of respect for. It was just a tough decision at the time.

"The voting is done in the final week of the season, so I did not have the playoffs to consider," Pluto said. "If they did the voting after, certainly Joe would have got it. I had great respect for both men, and gave the edge to Gardenhire for keeping his team in contention after losing Santana, etc. I had no idea how anyone else was voting. I certainly didn't set out to stiff Joe by being the lone voice not to have him No. 1."

Pluto said, "I'm glad Joe won. Clearly after what he did in the playoffs, he deserves it. It's just how it is."

Pluto said he's trying to respond to every email he's received, which have included a one-word, "Idiot," and even some from fans in Cleveland who love his work but were wowed by his vote

"One guy wrote, 'I usually like your stuff, but what were you thinking? You're making me embarrassed to be from Cleveland."

But as Pluto said, he clearly understands the sentiment.

"Now I look back and say, "I know why everybody voted for Joe."

-- JOE SMITH, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:43am]


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