Itís time to hand out the postseason awards and weíre going to do it hockey style because naming your awards after obscure things is clever or something.
Splendid Splinter Award (Honoring the Rookie who was firmly planted on the bench for no real good reason)
While Angel Guzman looked like an early frontrunner in June when he was called up for almost a month, but got into a grand total of three games for about seven innings, it's "scrappy" Ryan Theriot who takes home the hardware. Theriot began the year with a decent showing in spring training to a tune of 214/395/250 but couldn't impress the coaching staff enough to avoid the Cubs going hard after A's reject Freddie Bynum for the 25th man. Theriot's first callup of the season came May 8th and despite no one on the team hitting, Theriot got a grand total of 5 plate appearances. Apparently Neifi and Jerry Jr. were just due to break out of that career slump that month. Theriot was sent back down later in the month and got called up to warm up the bench once again on July 14th. Theriot was able to squeeze more AB's in that week than his previous stint but Prior's brief return put him back in Iowa. It took Derrek Lee's second DL trip to get Theriot up for good, but that didn't mean he'd play right away. Once everyone in front of him either got hurt, traded or released, Theriot finally got a regular shot at playing time near the end of August where he overachieved himself to a line of 328/412/522.
To sum up, once Neifi, Walker, Jerry Jr. got traded and Izturis got injured and Womack got released, we finally were able to give Theriot a shot(reluctantly). That doesn't even include the abysmal season Ronny Cedeno made us witness. Good job keeping that pine warm sir Theriot.
Tallest Midget of the Year (Perceived Greatness amongst Mediocre Peers)
Despite walking every player in baseball this year, Carlos Zambrano looks like a demi-god to Cubs fans due to his fiery temper, overswinging and the next best pitcher on the club basically had one good month. Kudos to you Carlos and be sure to buy Hendry dinner once you're done raping him over that new contract this spring. It's the gentlemanly thing to do.
Nomar Garciaparra's Groin Award (Crushing Injury That Ruined the Season)
Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were tough guys to lose but who expected them to play (oh crap me, at least in Wood's case). No, this year's winner was of course poor Derrek Lee who's apparently signed his contract extension in blood with Satan standing next to him. You see Derrek was living the good life, playing ball, getting paid millions, winning a world championship, a wife, a kid, set for life, you name it, he had it.
Then of course on April 19th, Mr. Durable tries to chase down an errant throw by Scott Eyre (more on that in a moment) and collides into a guy that should have been wearing Cubbie Blue. Luck, Chance, Fate or Cursed? I think we all know the answer. Of course it results in the worst case scenario and Lee is out for 2 months before rushing back to play like crap for about a month before he sits again. Once healthy, he returns for a nice three week stretch before tragedy moved onto his family.
Sorry Derrek, that's what happens when you deal with the damned.
Cecil Fielder Award (Most Unathletic Player)
While Butterball Rusch would seem the obvious choice, we have to remember that this is the Cecil Fielder award and Cecil actually provided some value on the diamond, which you'd be hard-pressed to find any in Rusch. No, the winner this year is Scott Eyre who cited that one of the reasons he signed with the Cubs is that Dusty didn't make you run and stuff. Eyre's un-athleticism proved particularly costly on that faithful April 19th night when he attempted to field Furcal's grounder by falling on his beer gut and then thought he could somehow manage a decent throw from that position to get the speedy Furcal. He of course threw the ball a few feet over 6'5 Derrek Lee's head pretty much costing Lee and the Cubs the season.
It takes a special talent and sport where someone who probably has trouble getting up a few flights of stairs can make millions.
Mitch Williams Award (Heart Attack Bullpen Guy)
It's a tough call between Roberto Novoa and Ryan Dempster but Dempster self-destructed on the mound with flavor not seen since the days of, well, um...Latroy Hawkins.
Despite a red hot April start, once the save opportunities dried up so did Dempster's magic elixir potion. Each time Dempster was called into a game, Cubs fans experienced shortness of breath, their chests tightened and a strange tingly feeling in their left arm popped up. Then through a combination of walks, wild pitches and the occasional botched defensive play, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory.
The American Heart Association strongly suggests that pregnant women, small children and those with high blood pressure turn away from the TV during the Ryan Dempster experience.
Lord Voldermort Trophy (Most Hated Cub)
Unfortunately managers and coaches and front office personnel are excluded, meaning Neifi Perez wins in a landslide. While players such as Freddie Bynum, Roberto Novoa, Ryan Dempster and Glendon Rusch made runs at the title at various points, no one could quite match the animosity that Neifi brought out in Cubs fans. Despite a mountain of evidence showing Neifi to be one of the worst hitters to ever play the game, Neifi managed to get himself 246 plate appearances. Each Neifi appearance was met with millions of voices suddenly crying out in terror, suddenly silenced by a weak groundout to second base.
While no one is quite sure what methods Neifi uses to blackmail his managers, hypnosis and high powered surveillance equipment have been suggested. A small parade around the Chicago River was organized the day Neifi was traded along with a scholarship in his name that will give a no-hit, slick glove kid a roster spot on Dusty's next team.
Brant Brown Award (The Most Amazing Way to Lose a Game)
While any of Dempster's meltdowns could be considered, the first nominee is Neifi's double error
that allowed the winning run in the form of Marcus Giles to score on a sac fly from second base. But not to be outdone, the very next day
, the Cubs come back from a 12-9 ninth inning deficit to tie the game, only to see Aramis Ramirez take an infield popup off his head that allowed the winning run in the form of Ryan Langerhans to reach base, who naturally came around to score. Probably the closest vote of the awards, but Neifi's double error did directly lead to the winning run scoring and a run scoring from second on a sac fly is about as rare as they come.
Grady Little Award (Boneheaded managerial decision of the year)
It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, so many choices, so little time. There were all those unnecessary double switches, my personal favorite being to take out Jacque Jones in a tie game and replace him with John Mabry defensively in which the very next play Mabry basically loses the ball in the sun costing us the game. Anytime Neifi started and was inserted in the #2 spot in the lineup was pretty darn silly (insert Bynum, insert Cedeno, insert Izturis). But ultimately Dusty's worst move was to move Todd Walker to first base and play Neifi/Womack/Jerry Jr. at second base when Lee went down.. Oh, he had no other choice you say? I beg to differ.
Baseball is a simple game, 50% is scoring runs (Offense) and 50% is preventing runs (pitching and defense). You can further subdivide the run prevention into about 40% pitching and 10% defense roughly. You don't need Stephen Hawking to tell you that missing Lee's bat was going to be a lot more hurtful to the team than losing out on his defense. But damnit, Baker's not buying what you're selling.
Oh sure, the choices weren't sexy. Bascially Mabry or Restovich at first base and Phil Nevin when he finally arrived. There were also some other creative ways of attempting to solve the problem like trying Barrett at 1b or what not. Baker wasn't having any of that though, must get that impact
glove in there and then act shocked and befuddled when the offense couldn't muster up a rally.
Allard Baird Award (GM's worst move; Could also be called the Cam Bonifay Award or Chuck Lamar award and by next year possibly the Jim Hendry Award)
We want to make sure everyone gets a chance to be honored, so we'll try and pinpoint Hendry's worst decision this offseason. Hours of extensive research, a team of 100 sabermetricians and a NASA computer (from like 1960 that we found cheap on Ebay) poured through the numerous missteps Hendry has made to try and pinpoint his worst decision. And while not firing Dusty Baker received some early support (pick whatever point in the season you wish), and there were plenty of non-decisions and non-moves that could have been made (like maybe grabbing some more starting pitching), it's best to stick to the concrete examples of his lunacy. And the winner is....
Well duh, giving Neifi a 2 year/$5 million deal when no market even remotely close to that existed and the two main reasons he stayed were to sway a possible
FA acquisition and because the manager likes his swagger.
Let's break out another random obscure analogy for everyone. Let's say you have a drug addict, let's call him "The Manager" and he's hooked on heroin. He's not only hooked on heroin but he actually prefers the really awful heroin because that's what they were dealing when he grew up. Now what's the best way to get "The Manager" off his heroin addiction? I know, buy him some more and pay a premium price for it. Freaking brilliant.
There you have it, the inaugral TCR postseason awards show, a solid showing by Neifi this season. I'd love to hear your suggestions for some more awards, maybe I'll include them next year or your suggestions for the awards I did present. And I do hope everyone realizes the sarcastic tone of all this, just having some fun with this pathetic season.