Cecil Fielder is furious.
After finishing second in the American League's Most Valuable Player balloting for the second straight year, Fielder last night blasted the voters who placed him behind Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. this time.
"The voters don't understand what's going on," said the Detroit Tigers' slugger. "I was told last year I didn't win because I wasn't on a winning team. Now, I've lost to somebody who played on a sixth-place team. I'm very upset. I don't get upset over many things, but I'm upset about this. It's a shame. It's a joke as far as I'm concerned."
Fielder's Tigers made a strong run at the East Division title until the final weeks of the season and finished in a second-place tie with the Boston Red Sox with an 84-78 record. The Orioles were never in the race.
"It's not easy to drive in 130 runs," Fielder continued. "I don't know what those people [voters] are after, a [Roger] Maris type of season? I'm not ashamed, but there are a lot of people who should be."
Last November, Fielder finished second to Rickey Henderson of the West Division champion Oakland A's by an almost identical margin. Under the 14-9-8-7 point system, Henderson beat Fielder, 317-286, getting 14 first-place votes to Fielder's 10. This time, Ripken won by a 318-286 margin with 15 first-place votes to Fielder's nine.
Two baseball beat writers in each of the 14 league cities have a ballot.
Roberto Alomar of the East Division-winning Toronto Blue Jays was the only other player with more than one first-place vote. But he deferred to the front-runners. "I knew from August on that it should have been Ripken," he said. When informed that he was sixth overall, Alomar asked: "What am I doing in there with all those big guys?"
His teammate, Joe Carter, was thought to be a leading contender, but Carter finished fifth, garnering one first-place vote.
"I figured it would be Ripken-Fielder or Fielder-Ripken," said Carter. "I thought they'd be 1-2. It's tough on Cecil's part to be second twice in a row, but it's tough to deny Ripken's year, too. I would have been happy if they had named co-winners."
Fielder stressed that he bears no ill will toward Ripken and even saluted his accomplishments. "I'm not mad at Rip," he said. "I can't say he didn't have an MVP type of season. He had an excellent year. I'm just upset at those who voted."
In the last two seasons, Fielder has hit 95 home runs and knocked in 265 runs for the Tigers after being signed as a free agent out of the Japanese Central League. He was the sensation of baseball in 1990, hitting two homers on the final day to give him 51 and 132 RBIs. But Detroit posted only a 79-83 record and finished a distant third.
"I could accept this if they told me that a player from a winning team had won," he said. "That's the way they told me it was last year. But this year, the voters have reversed themselves. If a player from a sixth-place team can beat out one from a contender, it's a new trick on me."
Ripken was the first player in the league to win from a sixth-place team and the first in either league from a team with more than 85 losses (the Orioles had 95).
Fielder said he will take a different approach if he is an MVP contender again in 1992, while dismissing any expectations.
"I'm done with it. I'll accept it [the award] in the future if I win, but it won't be the same. It's all a bunch of garbage as far as I'm concerned," he said. "The people who vote for the awards have screwed me up in the head.
"It's a shame the way things go down."