The Pujols Awards:  July

Weeee’re baaaaack.

I’m dedicating this edition to J.P. Ricciardi and awarding him an honorary Luis for, errr “consummating himself” in a way generally reserved for 14-year old males. Now, I don’t think he was serious at the trading deadline, but it was pretty obvious that other clubs knew he was desperate for offense and priced their talent accordingly.

This is what happens when you diddle while your team burns—all he did with the last 6-8 weeks of mental saponification, navel gazing and sinus excavation is create leverage for other teams in dealing with Toronto. With every bases loaded, none out/man on third, none out missed opportunity, with every twin killing, with every game where the offense scored four or fewer runs (64 of the Jays 108 games have been of this variety) it became obvious to everybody involved in professional baseball around the world save the GM of the AL club located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that a little more offense and maybe the Jays might be, you know, contenders.

Leading up to the deadline, when the Jays could have put themselves within range of the big boys, J.P.’s beloved status quo (he does the nasty with it on his desk every lunch hour and coffee break) saw the Jays hit .192/.227/.344 with a mind-boggling .030 (1 for 33) with runners in scoring position.

With that powerful vortex in place ,is it really any wonder that when Ricciardi picks up the phone, other GMs might sense a little desperation and price their players with that thought in mind?

Adding to his black hole squared by the factor of F5 is that he failed to deal any secondary pieces either. It mattered little who might come back since it would obligate the Jays to maybe call up some minor league talent that, if put in the lineup, might be able to hit better than .206/.322/.361 or .167/.333/.238, which is what DH Matt Stairs is batting since mid-May and Brad Wilkerson’s line since Cito Gaston was rehired.

Now, thanks to a man who makes the Toronto Maple Leafs front office look like team-assembling savants, we will be subjected to more missed opportunities, lost games that were winnable and fans can look to the Luis-inducing J.P. Ricciardi as the man to thank. I often soothe my soul to the point where I can sleep at night by picturing Roy Halladay throwing his final pitch of the 2008 season where his peripheral stats scream “Cy Young award” (yet he’ll lose out due to his 17-13 W-L record) only to be caught later on the security camera giving Ricciardi a cleated groin salute as a thank you for everything he did to help the Toronto Blue Jays continue the fine tradition began in 1968 by the city’s NHL franchise.

He’s not vile enough for a Samson, not funny enough for a Manny being Manny—he’s Mercury—not because he’s thinks fast on his feet but rather because he is that dense. On that note…

The Alberts

Albert Pujols (Submitted by Ted Horan)

I would like to nominate Pujols for the Pujols award based on this article from the Tennessean;


ST. LOUIS — With the Gateway Arch as a backdrop, the Riverdale Warriors’ jaws dropped. Inside Busch Stadium, the man who has become their hero was taking batting practice. And the teenagers were taking photography practice—snapping away on digital cameras and cell phones until memory cards were full.

And when Albert Pujols finally walked their way, well, that couldn’t have made their day much better. That is, until he invited them inside the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse.

The Warriors were in Missouri on Monday as guests of the Pujols family. Before the Cardinals’ game against the New York Mets, Pujols led the team on a 20-minute tour of the locker room—showing them where he watches film of opposing pitchers; taking them into the training room; popping his head into Manager Tony LaRussa’s office; and finally, signing autographs for each player and posing for pictures with the entire team.

All the while, the Warriors wore big smiles, expressing a air of awe that Riverdale Coach Barry Messer said he doesn’t witness too often. “When you deal with 17- and 18-year-old kids on a regular basis, it’s hard to impress them,” Messer said. “It’s hard to make them say, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool. That’s neat.’ But today, they were like kids all over again. That’s what baseball should be about, really.”

Pujols first made his presence felt in the Riverdale community in September when he invited Doris and Ken Frizzell—the parents of former Riverdale pitcher Jordan Henderson, who died in a car accident last July—to a Cardinals game. In September, the Frizzells were contacted by the Pujols Foundation, which had learned the story of Henderson and that he had carried an article about Pujols in his wallet.

I ran this past J.P. Ricciardi and he was more concerned if he had a passion for baseball and loved the game. Honestly! I’m not lying because it’s not a lie if I know the truth. Heck, with Ricciardi’s obsession with assembling a light-hitting boy scout troop I’m beginning to wonder if he has Barney and Baby Bop as his advisors. I can just hear him interviewing a prospective outmaker for the Jays: “We love you, you love we, who cares if you’re oh for 3, with a big pop up and a ground ball to turn two, it’s not a lie if I know what’s true.”

The Luis

The New York Yankees (Submitted by Peter Ghattas)

This is literally off the top of my head, but am I incorrectly remembering a lot of Steinbrenner boasting about how the Yankees were going to build this gem of a ballpark, this pinnacle of baseball achievement, on their own?

Well, that’s a common opening salvo for a new ballpark. More often that not, it ends up that the region foots the bill. Although a fair bit of Yankee money is going into the ballpark—so also is a lot of tax dollars. Teams and boot-licking politicians have become much more adept at hiding the subsidy.

Frank Wren (Submitted by eTrueSports’ Frank Coffey)

For sending Jeff Francoeur on a three-day stint in the minors and calling him back, thereby abusing frequent flier points. Hey, at least he got to his destination. The Blue Jays’ Joe Inglett apparently didn’t get out of the airport before his recall a few months back.

The “Manny being Manny”

Melky Cabrera (Submitted by Philip M. Leib)

I nominate Melky Cabrera for the “Manny Being Manny” Award.

As I’m sure everyone knows, the Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium begin each game with their roll call, chanting each Yankee starting player’s name until they receive an acknowledgment from the player. In Tuesday’s Yankees–Twins game, Denard Span led off the first inning with a single to center. As the ball traveled over second base, the Bleacher Creatures finished with right fielder Bobby Abreu and started chanting Melky Cabrera’s name. As Cabrera went for the ball, he waved to the crowd—and booted the ball when it took a bad hop. Not the most egregious mental error a player has ever made, I’ll admit—but the epitome of a “Manny Being Manny”

Well, were it Manny, he would’ve belly flopped on a hot dog vendor then taken a whiz in a trash receptacle before muffing the play—but close enough.

All-Star voters (Submitted by Crashburn Alley)

Baseball fans in general get a Luis Award for their awful construction of the All-Star Game starting line-ups and voting in the wrong guy as the NL’s 32nd player. I’m not going to dish out all of the numbers because it would take up a lot of space and I may as well write a blog about it instead, but I’ll list the players who I believe were not deserving of starting roles on the rosters with who really deserved it in parentheses: Dustin Pedroia (Ian Kinsler), Derek Jeter (Michael Young), Manny Ramirez (Grady Sizemore), Ichiro Suzuki (J.D. Drew or Nick Markakis); Ryan Braun (Pat Burrell), Kosuke Fukudome (Nate McLouth).

I made this chart to show how clear the choice for the 32nd player on the NL roster was.

The players also get a Luis Award for their voting of the reserves, though it was hard to get those wrong since the fans did the heavy lifting beforehand.

Here’s a short list of undeserving players: Jason Varitek, Joe Crede, Carlos Guillen, Miguel Tejada.

The coaches did a decent job of picking the pitchers, but I have to say … Brian Wilson—he of the 4.37 ERA—over Johan Santana or Cole Hamels or Takashi Saito or Brandon Lyon or Kevin Gregg or Francisco Cordero? George Sherill—he of the 4.08 ERA—over John Danks or C.C. Sabathia or Felix Hernandez or Bobby Jenks? In neither case was it a “we have to give his team a representative” since Wilson’s Giants had Tim Lincecum and Sherill’s Orioles had Brian Roberts.

But this time it counts!

The Samsons

The New York Yankees (Submitted by Luigi Tollis)

Rob Neyer pointed out this link in his blog: The Yanks have apparently banned sunscreen from the House that Ruth Built.

Five bucks for a three-ounce container of sunscreen. I never thought I’d see the day that stadium beer seemed like a good deal. Hank Steinbrenner makes the Judge from The Natural seem like an elder Carnegie (the philantropist, not the evil corporate emperor). The Judge may have tried to bribe Roy Hobbs (successfully in the book I might add), but at least he never gave anyone cancer. OK, so that may have been a little far, but you get my point.

Maybe they’re just trying to acclimatize their fans for the afterlife? (Kidding! Send the flames to the usual location)

What made me laugh was when I worked the Friday game of the last Seattle/Toronto series there were public service announcements at the Rogers Centre regarding using sun block. At any rate—never ask how low owners can go … they take it as a challenge and pull it off at a rate that if Blue Jay batters could duplicate their success rate with runner on, their magic number to clinch would be five by July’s end.

If you have a nomination for the “The Pujols Award,” let us know! who deserves to be honored this week. If you wish to have your blog credited with the submission, we’ll post the link along with your candidate. Let us know why you feel he deserves an Albert, Luis, “Manny Being Manny” or “The Samson.”

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