The Pujols Awards: Week 14

Wow, I have never had so many nominations for “Alberts” before—it always seems that the “Luises” outstrip them 2-1 or 3-1, but there is a lot of gold here. Thanks to everyone for their submissions. I fear the end of “The Buds” may be imminent. All Selig has to do is make official that he’s implementing the Mitchell Report’s suggestion of general amnesty for players named therein and it’s done.

We may have to reopen the category under a different name—how about the Samsons? The trophy can be the lower mandible of a beast of burden or Marlins executive. It’s all I could come up with on s_o_t notice (who’s up for a little hangman—not that way … please don’t tease me like that).

Albert Pujols (Submitted by Mike Cade)

I’d like to nominate Albert Pujols for The Pujols Award, based on this article :

Rookies Fly High

When Pujols approached pitcher Kyle McClellan and said he and (Brian) Barton were flying the plane home, McClellan thought: “You’ve got to be kidding.” Pujols wasn’t, entirely.

The Cardinals’ MVP arranged for McClellan and Barton—two rookies on the way to their first opening day—to fly in the cockpit back from Springfield. They sat behind the pilots and were the first to see St. Louis as it approached on the swift, 30-minute flight. For Barton, an engineering major who once had an internship with Boeing, the flight was a thrill.

“Seeing ascent and descent from that angle, it all looks a lot different than sitting on the wing,” Barton said. “You get to see the nose turn down and go deep into the clouds. It was something.”

It is refreshing to hear of a team leader doing something to enhance the lives of his teammates.

Agreed … it’s also nice to finally award Albert with an Albert—it appears his excellence extends beyond the diamond.

Keith Foulke (Submitted by David Crowell)

If it hasn’t been acknowledged yet, I’d like to nominate Keith Foulke for an Albert, for his unwillingness to just show up, and the sit on the DL sucking up money.

Un-retired and back in form, Foulke is healthy and happy with A’s

“They were shocked,” Foulke said of Cleveland’s response. “It was three days before spring training. But the way my arm felt, it was the right thing to do. I realized that when I was packing for spring training. They gave me an opportunity to make good money, and it was a great club, but my arm was out of shape and I wasn’t going to sit on the DL and suck up money and suck up space. They understood—and obviously, they got along fine without me.”

Granted, this is a bit belated, but still Albert-worthy. It’s also why I find the demonizing of Mark McGwire so puzzling. Yes, he was wrong for (probably) using anabolic steroids. However, like Foulke, he retired leaving a two-year/$30 million extension on the table after earlier foregoing a lucrative swim in free agent waters opting to simply re-sign with the Cardinals. Clearly, McGwire didn’t juice for money but rather seemed to do it to allow him to stay on the field and play.

Yes, he deserves criticism for a poor choice, but it’s hard to fault a guy for simply wanting to play baseball. He wasn’t a guy on the bubble who never would have enjoyed a big league career absent the juice—McGwire was a legitimate talent whose body repeatedly betrayed him. McGwire was a great player and decent man who made a bad choice. In short, he was human.

The Incompleat Starting Pitcher
The end of the nine-inning start and how we got here.

Edwin Encarnacion (Submitted by Josh Herchenroeder)

I would like to nominate Edwin Encarnacion for an Albert. His heroics extended far beyond winning the April 2 game against Arizona with a walk-off, three-run homer; his swing silenced some of the most inane baseball commentary imaginable. ESPN announcer Jeff Brantley’s sins mounted in the span of two pitches: paying attention to spring training statistics; insisting the bunt was the only legitimate strategy in that situation; claiming Encarnacion had no business being up to bat in that situation since he can’t bunt; definitively declaring that Edwin is not a clutch player; standing by that assertion even after his career numbers flashed up on the screen, indicating that he’s had tremendous success in his career in clutch situations.

The words were barely out of Brantley’s mouth when the Reds’ third baseman scourged the ball into the left field seats for a game-winner. Brantley’s shock was priceless. I’m a Rangers fan, and I’ve been upset for years that they included Encarnacion as a throw-in in the Ruben Mateo for Rob Bell swap. But I’m over it now, as that was one of the most satisfying homers I’ve ever seen, and it wouldn’t have happened without that trade many moons ago. Well done. Sir Edwin.

Jeff Brantley (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)

Yeah, Edwin Encarnacion made Brantley look like an idiot with his walk-off HR, but I have to give Brantley props for eating his words like a man. Some may have tried to dismiss it as a fluke or whatever, others may have just clammed up, but he took his medicine and stated unequivocally that he was wrong.

The Luis

Oakland A’s (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)

If we’ve learned anything about society the last three decades, it is this—natural selection has been dropping acid. Now, I realize Oakland isn’t the only team that does this. Once upon a time I worked as a doorman at a pub. To hold such a job where I was living, it’s required (believe it or not) to take a course to understand the various laws that apply to liquor and its serving. Basically, it can be summed up thusly: People are too stupid to act responsibly, therefore you have to do it for them.

Similarly, sooner or later, somebody is going to take a heart attack, suffer some kind of blood sugar reaction or puke on somebody, indirectly causing harm whether through the transmission of a virus or injuring themselves trying to minimize the payload being dumped on them. All the more so since gorging is so much more fun when accompanied by a cold glass or 12 of heavenly amber.

Now, the buffoon responsible for this—whether he (or she) has harmed themselves or someone else—is going to disavow responsibility for his misfortune and try to avoid paying costs or receive damages. The defense will pretty much boil down to “The Oakland A’s acted irresponsibly in not realizing that I’m an imbecile who needs full time protection from me and the harm that I may cause. The team knew full well that this was the case yet still put me in a position where I could behave with the level of intelligence where remembering to unzip before urinating requires a post-it note or work as president of the Florida Marlins. I am the reason manufacturers post warnings about not taking electrical appliances into the shower or operating power tools while intoxicated and naked. Therefore…

For not realizing that natural selection is in desperate need of a performance review—the Oakland A’s get a Luis.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as pro all-u-can-eat as the next guy—especially if the food is unhealthy. It’s just a bad idea to do it in a location where (1) people are feeling competitive (2) alcohol flows freely with no menacing figure around to remind folks that they will be forced to perform a visual prostate exam on themselves if they don’t behave and (3) there’s no requirement for an all-encompassing, airtight, waiver in which refugees of natural selection are unconditionally guaranteed to be held responsible for any problems they cause.

Jose Canseco (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)

Speaking of which…

I was waiting for someone to submit him for his latest round of idiocy to run its course before getting around to this. Since there doesn’t appear to be any addendum-dums coming from ol’ “needles protruding from both sides of his pelvic/gluteal region” I guess it’s safe to finally get this latest nomination out of the way.

While Deadspin’s Searching For Canseco had a buffet of possibilities, it goes a little deeper than this. As you know, Jose is an attention whore—heck, he likely knows it. His first book got everybody’s attention and helped get some meaningful action toward increasing the penalties for PED use. His second book is evidently a joke (from the excerpts I’ve read) and not likely to be taken seriously.

If Canseco wishes to remain relevant in this arena, he needs to come forth with the truly key information—what were his steroid suppliers in the game? How did he get them? How many did he have? In which cities was it easiest to obtain the drugs? We know he’s the “godfather of steroids in baseball,” but how did he become such? He started in the minors; how do minor leaguers get their supply.

These are questions that are truly useful—not “revelations” that he introduced Alex Rodriguez to a steroid supplier. All that tells us what we already know: Canseco can get you steroids. Now how about letting us know how others got them? He probably knows all the tricks.

The Bud

St. Louis Cardinals (Submitted by Nick Wingbermuehle)

I think that it is too kind to just award the Cardinals organization with a Luis. They deserve a Bud. The Cincinnati-based ownership group has flat-out lied to the people of St. Louis. The new stadium was promised to be as good as any stadium in the majors, as the Cardinals were able to observe other teams’ new stadium designs and improve on them.

B3 is no Miller Park, where it is easy to navigate, they show relevant stats on the board (like OBP and SLG, instead of just AVG, HRs and RBIs), I did not have to listen to country or rap music in between innings, and there was no “kiss cam.” The stadium was built in about 18 months, but since its completion there has not been so much as one piece of gravel moved in the Ballpark Village area. Even if the Centene Corporation deal would have fallen through, they would have just put up a bunch of commercialized crap, like ESPN Zones, with no real St. Louis flavor.

On top of this, they traded Jim Edmonds just to save money, robbing me of my farewell tour. The least they could do is stock the lake with some fish, so I can have some recreation before and after games. Giving the Cardinals owners a Luis is much too kind, in my opinion. In the 2000 NLCS, I, along with many other Cardinals fans, chanted that the Mets were pond scum, but they have nothing on our ownership, who I count as some of the most despicable people out there.

A note to communities thinking of giving in to the corporate welfare Lords of Baseball … caveat emptor. As we’ve stated before, teams are like a horny 17-year old male: They promise


anything to get what they want, but don’t expect those promises to materialize after they have their way. They’re just focused on their own wants and needs and will try to avoid any responsibility after indulging them.

Therefore, for helping confirm every negative thing ever said about baseball ownership, we proudly award “The Bud” to the St. Louis Cardinals. Truly they acted in a manner that brings joy and contentment only to the commissioner of baseball.

To nominate someone other than Selig for “The Bud,” they have to be lower than low. This recognition is for the Brett Myers, the Ugueth Urbina, the Julio Mateo, the Elijah Dukes level of slimy activity. This isn’t for garden-variety chuckleheadedness—it’s for just-opened exhumed-casket levels of stenchy putrescence. Nominations for this distinction are not automatic—you have to make your case why they deserve this distinktion.

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 or a Luis.

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