White Players Slightly Less Gritty Than Scrappy

William F. Buckley, like others of his race, is scrappy.

It’s likely, reader, that you remember something called the Holiday Inn Look Again Player of the Year Award. It’s also likely that you remember it for the same reason I do — namely, because its existence was brought to your attention via Fire Joe Morgan, where Junior (a.k.a. Alan Yang) revealed — rather predictably, perhaps — that a disproportionate number of nominees for the award (including winner David Eckstein) were on the caucasian side of things.

Here was the description of that award, if you’re not recalling:

Behind every great team on the diamond, lurking in the shadow of baseball superstars, live the role players who sacrifice for their team in often unrecognized effort. Which of these role players’ best deserves recognition for their contributions as the Holiday Inn Look Again Player of the Year?

There was a list of nominees from each of the 30 MLB teams — a list which included, as Yang noted most eloquently, only “two non-whiteys.”

Though some cursory googling reveals that the Holiday Inn version of the award was short-lived, Edward Achorn, author of the Charley “Old Hoss” Radbourn biography Fifty-Nine in ’84 has preserved the sentiment of the Look Again in the form of the Charley Radbourn Award.

Here’s the description for Achorn’s version:

The award, named after Hall of Fame pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn, who set the all-time Major League record by doggedly winning 59 games in a single season, goes to the best and grittiest men in baseball at all nine positions.

And here are your winners, position by position:

P – Tim Lincecum
C – Ivan Rodriguez
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Dustin Pedroia
3B – Evan Longoria
SS – Derek Jeter
LF – Ryan Braun
CF – Josh Hamilton
RF – Ichiro Suzuki

Some observations:
• On the topic of racial make-up, it appears as though Achorn’s is much kinder to the non-whiteys (including 3.5 or 4.0, depending on how you classify Jeter’s ethnicity). Perhaps this is because the newer list is more concerned with grit than scrap. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that a fair analysis of the two qualities and their differences would fill an entire doctoral dissertation.
• It’s curious — to this author, at least — that an award named after Old Hoss would recognize that great baseballer’s grit but none of those other traits that has endeared him to our hearts — traits such as “harlot-bedding” and “rapscallionery” and “punching.”
Nyjer Morgan?

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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John Lindsey wins the ‘grit award’ in my book for sticking out something like 15 minor league seasons before getting his call up.