Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Baseball Awards Begin to Trickle Out

Look, I'm as big a baseball fan as anyone- it's my first love as far as sports goes, and I'm so amped about it that I'm one of only 47 people in the country who DOESN'T go crazy waiting for football season to start because I'm still into baseball at that time.
But the way MLB announces their season awards is so absolutely asinine that it makes even diehard fans like me sick.

I mean c'mon, what are we fourth graders:

MLB: "Kids, today we are gonna give you a little teaser called the Rookie of the Year Award. Then after you do your homework on those two players and hem & haw about it for a day, we will let you work on the Cy Young's, one at a time..."
FANS: "awwwwwwww..."
MLB: "quiet down, kiddies, you know this is how we do it every year. We don't want to give you too much to talk about at once; since we're into the 4 month off season we need to keep our sport relevant. The only way to do that is to let our major award winners leak out slower than an Avodart user. Anyway, the next day we will announce the Cy Young Awards, and if you're lucky, by Christmas break we will be all the way to Manager of the Year..."
"(grumble... mumble... this sucks...mutter...) oh-kay."

You see Selig & his cronies have got us by the shorthairs. They know that once the World Series ends, baseball expose falls off the map due to the high-powered machine that is the NFL. So how do es MLB keep the sport topical? By releasing their awards one day at at time- for about a month. First we got the Comeback Players (Nomar in the NL, Thome in the AL), all the way back on Oct. 7, like appetizers for the real awards to follow the season. Last week the Gold Glove Awards came out, on separate days for each league. Is that really necessary? This week the schedules go like this:

Today- NL Cy Young
Nov.15- Managers of the Year
Nov.16- AL Cy
Nov. 17-19- Rest (no awards)
Nov. 20- NL MVP
Nov.21- AL MVP

Is that the most ludicrous thing you have ever seen or what? From the time the Comeback Players are announced to the time the last award is handed out is a full month and half. All the award winners are known the day after the season ends! And MLB officials wonder why people hate their sport (well other than bloated salaries, pompous owners, steroids-tainted records and interminable game lengths.)

Anyway, here's my best guesstimates for the winners. I was already wrong in the Rookie dept, but unlike MLB I'm going to put them all out there at once.

Rookie of the Year:

American League
- Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers (133 votes, 26 1st place)
MY PICK: Jon Papelbon
, RP, Bosox (2nd, 63 votes) : 3rd: Francisco Liriano
Of course I knew Paps had no chance to win it because he went down with the shoulder injury and missed the last month of the season. But although Verlander pitched well (17-9, 3.63ERA, 186IP, 124Ks, 60BBs) for a playoff team, Papelbon meant much more to his team. The Tigers also had Kenny The Cheatin Cameraman Clubber, Bonderman, Robertson and a talented bullpen to ease his pressure. Paps was single-handedly keeping Boston atop the AL East by providing the only stability to a below-average bully. He beacme the first rookie pitcher to save 10 games in the month of April, went from April 5th - June 8th without blowing a save (20 straight) while compiling a 0.21 ERA with 1 earned run allowed during that time, and was named to the All Star Game, bringing his 26 saves. It is safe to say that without his contributions, the Sox wouldn't have been anywhere near the top of the East, which they were until late July, nor anywhere near the playoff race (which they were until the BM II) without his contributions. His numbers speak for themself- 4-2, 35 saves (Sox single-season record), 0.92 ERA, 68.1IP, 75Ks- but it was his value to the team that should have made him the most valuable rookie.

Verlander became the first pitcher to win the award in the AL since New York's Dave Gator Righetti in 1981.

National League- Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida (105 votes) 2. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Wash (101 votes); 3. Dan Uggla, 2B, Florida (55 votes)
MY PICK: Zimmerman
This vote was somewhat of a surprise because many had tapped the gritty & odd-named Uggla(.282, 27 HRs, 90 RBIs, great around the bag) as the winner, while Zimmerman posted more eye-popping stats (.287, 47 2Bs, 20 HRs, 110 RBIs) and provided nightly highlight-reel plays at third. Perhaps I just didn't want Ramirez, who had a phenomenal season (.292, 46 2Bs, 11 3Bs, 17 HRs, 59RBI, 119R, 51SBs) to win it because to think of him being an All Star and award winner for his career brings up painful reminders of Jeff Bagwell. The comparisons are clear: In the early 90's the Sox had drafted Bagwell and he quickly became a hot 3B prospect. Problem for Boston was they already had a guy at 3rd, named Wade Boggs. So the Boston Brass rolled the dice and traded Bagwell for 52-year-old reliever Larry Anderson, or as I like to refer to him, the idiot who used to wear sunflower seeds on his face. Long story short, Anderson gave Boston a couple of decent months and was never heard from again. Bagwell went on to have a Hall of Fame Career (449 HRs) that is just coming to an end due to injury 15 years after Boston let him go, and his name is synonomous with the Astros. And the trade is regarded as one of the worst in baseball's storied history.

Until now (possibly.) Flash forward to this past offseason, when Boston traded young SS Ramirez prospect plus pitching phenom Anibal Sanchez (remember him? he pitched a no-hitter in September and finished 11th in the voting) to the Marlins for Josh Gopher Ball Beckett and 47-year-old Mike Lowell. Yikes. Talk about a trade coming back to bite you in the ass. Beckett completely imploded the second half of the season and allowed a league high 33 home runs, while Lowell started off hot but tailed off in the second half, when Boston desperately tried to unload him and his bloated salary ($9mil.) Meanwhile Ramirez & Sanchez appear to be the cornerstones, along with Dontrelle, Miguel Cabrera & Uggla, of the next Marlins championship. Ugh (la). Ramirez will probably turn out to be the next Ozzie Smith, and Sanchez a future Pedro Martinez. Plus those guys salaries combined don't equal up to 1/2 of one year of Beckett's new 3 yr/$30 mil deal.

Today's announcement: NL Cy Young.

MY PICK: Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
Upon further review, I think I'll announce my other awards on the day of the official announcements.
I'm too sick right now to think of baseball.

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