Wondo could be best MVP story in all sports
Should former MLS reserve player Chris
Wondolowski claim the MVP award in 2010, it would make for one of the greatest Cinderella
stories in all of professional sports, especially when it comes to recent MVP sports
lore in the United States.
Wondolowski is a local boy who emerged from a college program
that is not exactly known for its soccer at Chico State. He made the Earthquakes
reserve team in 2005 after attending a local tryout and was only considered a
real option to start in the latter part of last season.
The other American professional sports have had few
comparable seasons by someone who was a role player just the year before. Here’s
the closest any of the other Big 5 comes:
MLB: Justin Morneau’s 2006 MVP comes closest to a
Wondo-like season, with three average seasons from 2003 through 2005. Others
that may come to mind don’t count: Boston’s Dustin Pedroia was the Rookie of
the Year a year before being voted AL MVP in 2008 and Milwaukee’s Robin Yount was
a 1980 All-Star before winning his 1982 MVP.
NBA: Basketball has nothing like Wondolowski in its
recent history. The MVP award in the NBA has been superstar territory. Even Dave
Cowens, who won it back in 1972-73, had already earned co-NBA Rookie of the
NFL: Kurt Warner in 1999 was Chris Wondolowski in the
NFL. Known for packing groceries in supermarkets and playing in the indoor
league and NFL Europe, Warner emerged as MVP only after St. Louis Rams
starting QB Trent Green went down to injury.
Washington Redskins placekicker Mark Moseley won the MVP
award in a strike-shortened season in 1982 after 11 seasons in the league. Quarterbacks
Brian Sipe (1980) and Ken Anderson (1981) also won their awards after
establishing themselves over several seasons.
NHL: Amid the names Gretzky, Messier, Lemieux, Hull and
Hasek, goaltender José Théodore was not a real star until he captured his Hart
Trophy in the 2001-02 season with Montreal. Martin St. Louis, not exactly a
household name, won the honor with Tampa Bay in 2003-04 but scored just five
fewer goals a season before.