What does it take to be number one? Two is not a winner and three nobody remembers. What does it take to be number one? Hey hey hey hey.. -Nelly
Opening day is just two weeks away. Ahhhh, baseball. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. I know it’s a little early. I know what Bill Veeck said. I know he said, “This is a game to be savored, not gulped. There’s time to discuss everything between pitches or between innings.” I don’t care. I want it all. I want it now. I want to know what the Big Fundamental wants to know. “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” Who’s good? Who’s the best? Today we will discuss who’s the best. We’ll discuss who’s the worst. And we’ll discuss everything in between. So, without further ado, let’s hand out the hardware:
Willie Mays Award – Best Player on the Planet
No news here. No gnews is good gnews. Good gnews for the St. Louis Cardinals. This award goes to Albert Pujols. Tony LaRussa calls him the perfect player. Sports Illustrated calls him the perfect player. Who am I to argue? The standards for greatness are simple. 1) You must be an outstanding hitter. Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, a future Hall of Famer, calls Albert Pujols “the greatest right-handed hitter I’ve ever seen.” Gary Sheffield, a member of the 500 home run club, calls Pujols “the best hitter I’ve ever seen because he has done it since day one.” He sure has Gary, he sure has. Pujols’ worst year? 2007 when he hit .317 with 32 homeruns and 103 RBI. Yikes! 2) You must be at least a competent base runner. There is a difference between a great base stealer and a great baserunner. Rickey Henderson was a great base stealer; Albert Pujols is a great baserunner. He has eyes in the back of his head on the bases. He always knows where he is, where the ball is and where the defender is. He never makes the third out at third base. That’s a great baserunner. 3) You must be a good defensive player. Albert is so great offensively, he doesn’t get enough credit for his defense. But God help the runner who is on second with no one out that jogs his way to third on a ground ball to the right side because Albert, with that arm, will gun him down at third. See., this guy just hasn’t got any weaknesses. Not a one. He is, by far, the best baseball player on the planet.
Teddy Ballgame Award – Best Hitter
This one may surprise you. Pies in the skies you. Hello, anybody home? McFlys you. I don’t care. All I know is, Miguel Cabrera, as the kids say these days, rakes. Oh yes, he drinks too, but he rakes. Good times. Miggy rakes. Bad times. Miggy rakes. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? Fuck you, pay me. That’s Miguel Cabrera. He rakes the ball to he ball to left. He rakes the ball to he ball to right. He rakes the ball to center. He rakes the ball all over the gosh darned field. That ability to hit the ball to all fields, hit with power and average, is why Cabrera is considered by his peers one of the best hitters in baseball. He was voted by managers the best hitter in the American League in a Baseball America poll. I vote for him too. Rock the vote! Vote Miguel Cabrera.
Sandy Koufax Award – Best Pitcher
This one’s not even close. This one goes to none other than Roy Halladay. Roy Halladay is the hardest working man in the big show business. There’s no business like big show business, like no business I know. Roy Halladay is a throw back. A go back. An Adrianne Barbeau back. Like my main man Leo Mazzone always says, ”We pay attention to pitch counts, but there are a bunch of priorities ahead of pitch counts…What if a guy’s out there, he’s got a hundred pitches and he isn’t tired?” Ya what about that? What about Roy Halladay? Randy Johnson had his left-handed slingball. Pedro Martínez had that changeup and flair. Greg Maddux had the ultimate control. Halladay is just really good at everything. It is the difference between being great and remarkable. Roy Halladay is indeed remarkable.
Freddy Lynn Award – Best Offensive Rookie
I’m not talking about Domonic Brown. I’m not talking about Freddie Freeman. I’m not talking about Mike Moustakas or Dustin Ackley. I’m not talking about treasure boating or game sailing. I’m talking about sharking. That’s right, I’m talking about Peter Bourjos. They don’t call him Gorgeous Bourjos for nothing. When you take over centerfield duties from a Torii Hunter, you’re doing something. You’re doing something special. This kid is special. I wish I was special. You’re so fucking special. So special that if he had played the entire season, he easily could have had the greatest single-season Wins Above Replacement performance by a centerfielder in MLB history with a 5.1 clip. Yowza! So far this spring, Bourjos is hitting .333 with a .424 on-base percentage with five hits over his past 10 at bats. If he keeps that up, he just may turn into the best centerfielder in baseball today. It used to mean something to be the best centerfielder in baseball. Like it used to mean something to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Like it used to mean something to be the Fastest Man Alive. I still think it means something and so should you.
Mark Fidrych Award – Best Rookie Pitcher
This guy would have been a clear number one in most organizations but this guy plays for the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays’ second best pitching prospect, has been overshadowed by David Price for some time now. That ends here. He ain’t gonna be overshadowed no more! Nobody puts Baby in the corner! Hellickson is a power pitcher. He’s a tower of a power pitcher. The man of the hour. Tower of power. I’ll devour. I’m gonna tie you up and let you understand that I’m not your average man when I got a baseball in my hand. Daaammmnnn!!!!! Chicks may dig the longball, but we here at JQP Productions dig us some strikeout pitchers. We dug us some Nolan Ryan. We dug us some Randy Johnson. We dug us some Pedro Martinez. We dig Jeremy Hellickson.
Brooks Robinson Award – Best Defensive Player
Kevin Youkilis won the Gold Glove award for first basemen in 2007. In 2008, he was robbed. Robbed, I tells ya. Carlos Pena? Really? It’s a travesty. It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. When Youk plays first, he is the best first baseman in baseball. When Youk plays third, he is the best third baseman in baseball. When Youk is in the outfield, he is the best outfielder in baseball. Terry Francona thinks so too: “He just looks at the lineup card…he doesn’t care. He’ll play third, he’ll play first, he’s gone to the outfield a couple of times. He just does it. And he helps us win.” And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Winning? You bet your bippy it is.
Hank Greenberg Award – Best Jewish Ballplayer
They don’t call him the Hebrew Hammer for nothin’. This award goes to Ryan Braun. I really wanted to give this Youkilis, but he already got an award. In all honesty I really wanted to give this award to Youkilis because I really wanted to post this video:
Jim Abbot Award – Best Story Player
I’ve always liked Dontrelle Willis. When he was mowing ‘em down for the Florida Marlins all crooked hatted and high kicking, there was nothing like it. Nothing like it at all. His smile was infectious. His style impetuous. He was just ferocious. He wanted your heart. He wanted to eat your children. Praise be to Allah! Now, after a myriad of problems, he’s trying to hang on in Cincinnati as a reliever. I, for one, hope he makes it.
Lou Brock Award – Stolen Bases
Joe Morgan once said: “A good base stealer should make the whole infield jumpy.” So that’s what we want to know. Who in 2011 makes the whole infield jumpy? Carl Crawford, that’s who! There’s only one thing you gotta know about Carl Crawford, he’s an ath-uh-lete. Recruited by UCLA to play point guard. Recruited by Nebraska to play quarterback. Carl Crawford chose baseball and aren’t we all glad he did? He’s a sight to behold. Against my beloved Red Sox, he was a record tying sight to behold. As he slid into second at the Trop, he slid into a tie for the modern major league record with six stolen bases in one game. How about that? How about this? Crawford is the first player with at least forty hits and twenty or more stolen bases in a single calendar month since, yup, you guessed it, Rickey Henderson. When you get your name up there with Rickey, you’re doing some things. Some historic stolen base things.
Impossible Dream Award – Cinderella Team: Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. It looks like a miracle. It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! The Florida Marlins.
Cecil Fielder Award – Fattest Player: Bartolo Colon. Ever wonder whatever happened to Eddy Curry? I think Bartolo ate him.
Andres Galarraga Award – Comeback Player: Manny Ramirez
Jeff Bagwell Award – Biggest Trade Deadline Move: Carlos Beltran
Ron Blomberg Award – Designated Hitter: Adam Lind
Sparky Anderson Award – Top Manager: Buck Showalter
Clearasil Award – Breakout Performance: Hisanori Takahashi
Stan Musial Award – Lifetime Achievement: Mariano Rivera
Peace out homies. Six two and even!
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