Joey Votto Receives 2010 Lou Marsh Award

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You may or may not know what the Lou Marsh Award represents. The Lou Marsh Award is presented annually to Canada’s top athlete. Some of the previous winners have been Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Steve Nash, Larry Walker, Ferguson Jenkins and Mike Weir. An impressive list to say the least.

Joey Votto represents only the third baseball player (along with the aforementioned Jenkins and Walker) to win this award. But with the good comes the perceived bad…

No questions that Votto created a stir in his homeland this past season, there is at least one person that doesn’t feel Votto deserved the honor. That would be Toronto Sun columnist Alison Korn. She’s not in Votto’s corner.

"Sorry, but I am one Olympian who doesn’t care that much about pro baseball player Joey Votto……While I’ll agree it’s impressive that Votto is the 2010 National League MVP and all, didn’t something happen in Vancouver/Whistler last February?Um, yes. Canada hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and won the most gold medals of any nation. That’s why awarding the Lou to a pro athlete– in this year, of all years–is a slap in the face to amateurs.What’s particularly galling about this year’s decision is that the Lou Marsh award has a history of going to an outstanding Olympian in an Olympic year. There was wrestler Daniel Igali in 2000, speed skater Catriona Le May Doan in 2002, kayaker Adam van Koeverden in 2004, speed-skater Cindy Klassen in 2006 and wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc in 2008."

Before any Reds (or any other baseball fan) goes off and attempts to slam Korn, you should know this. She has participated in amateur athletics in women’s rowing. She knows the ins and outs of being an amateur athlete. She covers amateur athletics for the Sun. Her beef here is that in an Olympic year, an amateur did not win the Lou Marsh.

Within her column, Korn has at least one other person in her corner:

"“I think that Joey Votto probably made it easy for the voters to NOT have to choose one from all of the incredible Olympians from 2010,” suggested Russell Reimer of Agenda Sport Marketing, which represents many Olympians. “Probably a case of an amateur sport vote spilt.”As Reimer noted, “The Olympics touched us in a way that Joey Votto couldn’t.”"

I cannot say I see Korn’s or Reimer’s side completely. Maybe because being here in the U.S., amateur athletics on some levels is almost viewed as being somewhat shady. Investigations, infractions. Makes it a tad harder to appreciate on this side of the border. And before you ask yourself, I have nothing against amateur athletes. Just their judgment on occasions.

While the Winter Olympiad took place in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010, I wonder how Korn would have felt if Sidney Crosby had won his third Lou Marsh. He did win in 2007 and 2009. He did score that game winning goal in the Gold Medal match. That could have been one reason alone to give Sid the Kid the nod. Worthy recognition.

But to imply Votto does not deserve this award is a slap in the face to Votto. Yes, Korn has fully realized that she could be getting an earful (or eyeful) from those against her. But Votto became only the third Canadian-born baseball player to win an MVP. That’s as much a part of history as many of the other accomplishments by those amateurs that were pointed out by Korn. Only one other former baseball MVP (Walker) won the Lou Marsh that same year. Isn’t that Marsh worthy?

Call me defensive and biased and you’d be right as I feel that Korn is biased toward the amateur.

I will give Korn her due on this point:

"How about the name Brian McKeever — ring any bells? The legally blind cross country skier was the first person in the world to qualify for both the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in the same year."

Who wants to debate that one?