The Pujols Awards: Week 11by John Brattain
March 21, 2008
The Chicago Cubs (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)
This is a great practical joke as reported by The Chicago Tribune
Strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss experienced the agony and the ecstasy of life with the Cubs in a few short hours Tuesday.
When the Cubs began practice in the morning, Aramis Ramirez pointed to a wrecked '95 Nissan Sentra near the Cubs bullpen and asked: "Hey, 'Bussy,' what's your car doing on the ramp?"
Buss looked over at the wreck and replied: "That's not my car."
But then Buss did a double take.
"Dude," he said to Ramirez. "That's my car!"
Buss soon discovered his car was demolished beyond recognition, but this was no ordinary crime. The car windows all had been smashed in, the front, back and sides all were severely dented and the smoking guns—a couple of baseball bats and balls—were strategically placed in the windshield.
"I figured (Jon) Lieber, (Kerry) Wood immediately, (Ryan) Dempster …" he said. "Then I realized it was every pitcher we have."
The Cubs players played dumb while Buss silently fumed and wondered how he was going to tell his wife, who was the actual owner of the car.
"It's a shame," Lieber said with a straight face. "What kind of person would do something like that? It really just shocks me. I'm sure she'll understand."
After the workout ended, Dempster told Buss to "quit pouting" and come with him to the weight room to "see something."
As they walked out the back door, Buss saw several players and a 2008 Nissan Xterra parked in the walkway. Dempster gave him the keys for the new SUV, valued at about $25,000.
"I thought they lost their mind," Buss said. "I thought, 'I'm going to have to call Dr. Phil and have a team meeting.' I couldn't figure out what they were doing."
Buss nearly was moved to tears by the players' generosity.
"They're great guys," he said.
The best practical jokes are the ones that leave all parties with a fun memory. Whether intentional or not, using his wife’s car is a nice touch for a pure "make him sweat" moment—sheer genius. Props to the players for a great prank with a happy ending. I’ve already logged this one as a finalist for the year end awards.
The New York Yankees (Submitted by Noah Schmutter)
As much as it pains me to do it, I would like to nominate the New York Yankees for an Albert. They left the friendly/temperate confines of Florida for Blacksburg, Va. to face the Virginia Tech Hokies on Tuesday. One would have expected few of their elite players to make such an inconvenient trip, but all the stars decided they had to be there.
For three innings, the stars of the New York Yankees took the field with honor and integrity. They honored the school, the sport, and those who were tragically killed in last year's attacks. The organization showed itself to be the very definition of class. Alex Rodriguez called it his proudest moment in a Yankees uniform. If anyone is deserving of an Albert this week, it's the members of the New York Yankees from the front office all the way down.
Ichiro Suzuki (Submitted by Lou Clark)
Ichiro temporarily broke his hitless streak for ST. The streak has some people wringing their hands in
despair or sneering that he's over the hill (they're the ones who thought he was overrated to start with).
But Ichiro takes it all in stride, as he does everything. The streak isn't worthy of an award, but I thought his quote was:
"I'm not sure what my next challenge is but for today, my feeling is sad, sad to say goodbye," he said. "Part of me is sad that it couldn't have gone on a little longer. But part of me realizes I have to show some results."
Ichiro said that as far as he knew, no one with the team was commemorating the hit. "I was planning to keep the ball and send it to Cooperstown but I couldn't get the ball back and make it a reality."
It sounds like a cheap hit. From Geoff Baker's blog: "Call off those Ichiro burials. He notched a hit in his first at-bat. An infield single that probably would have been a routine 4-3 groundout had first baseman Justin Leone (yes, him) not gone wandering 20 feet off his bag for no good reason. Anyhow, it's a hit. We can stop tracking this silliness. Ichiro is now 1-for-22 this spring and even has a run scored, since he came racing home on a Raul Ibanez single that cut the Giants' lead to 2-1."
He went 0-2 after the hit.
I have never worried much about spring training results. If a player feels healthy and ready to go at the end of it, then I call it a success. The Toronto Blue Jays had poor spring records the years they won back-to-back World Series. With players of Ichiro’s ability—well, if he feels he’s ready for the season irrespective of his stats, chances are he likely is.
Bob Watson (Submitted by eTrueSports.com’s Frank Coffey)
Frank wrote to tell me “John, the feeling here in southern California is, simply, that when people break the rules they should be slammed, otherwise we’re looking at chaos. Therefore, I nominate Bob Watson for this week’s Pujols awards. His laxity should not, cannot stand. Please help.”
Frank went on to spoof the situation thusly:
"I Will Not Slide Into Second Base With My Spikes High"
March 14, 2008, New York—Bob Watson, MLB's dean of discipline, has handed Shelley Duncan an additional punishment resulting from last week's Yankee-Tampa Rays flareup, ordering the Yankee first baseman to write, "I will not slide into second base with my spikes high," 500 times on college-ruled paper.
"Bummer," said a subdued Duncan.
Rays manager Joe Maddon, already incensed at the lightness of Duncan's three-game suspension, erupted again at this new penalty. "He pulls a punk-ass stunt and this is all he gets? Anybody can write!"
While on the subject, I’m mystified with the tame response by MLB myself. Not so much because of the specifics of the situation, it is just that management has gone out of its way to demonstrate to the MLBPA that they’re now large and in charge of late. To pass up an opportunity to tweak the union is atypical of Selig and Co.
David Samson (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)
David Samson is a victim of poor timing. Had he been born 70-80 years ago, I’m pretty sure Chuck Jones could’ve made him into a caricature that would
These all had a lot in common. All were diminutive in stature (as is Samson), each had an overstated sense of his own intellect, rights and importance (as does Samson) and this quality led them into frequently being exposed as the buffoons they really were (need I say it again?).
At any rate, I was sent a column in the Globe and Mail dealing with ticket prices and true to form, Samson made a brief, unforgettable and unintentionally hilarious contribution to the article. Samson opined: “A baseball stadium is a microcosm of a civilization, where very often it is the wealthy who support the programs and services that are taken advantage of by the less fortunate.”
Is it the taxes of the wealthy that pay for the stadiums—stadiums that are built with the wealthy in mind with luxury boxes and the like? The wealthy get tax breaks on the games they attend in these premium seats, which translates into higher taxes or reduced services for everyman. Indeed, MLB caters to moneyed interests so much that it is becoming more difficult for average fans to attend games.
The less fortunate are getting screwed long, loud and repeatedly by the wealthy—all the wealthy do is try to enrich themselves still further by making us poorer. This is how MLB is a microcosm for society. For his unga bunga take on economics and indeed reality in general, Mr. Samson gets a Luis and a retroactive thrashing from Bugs Bunny since Bugs generally administered punitive justice to his ilk.
As mentioned last week, I added a new dimension to the Pujols Awards. Every week that goes on where he doesn’t implement Sen. George Mitchell’s suggestion of amnesty, he gets “The Bud.” If he suspends one more player based on the Mitchell Report, “The Bud” becomes a permanent feature (although he’ll cease to receive them weekly since he’ll be permanently "honored" by the award’s existence).
Bud Selig (Submitted by Luigi Tollis and The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)
Luigi wished to add that there is more for which Selig should be recognized. He writes:
As long as you're handing out "Buds" for slimy and sleazy conduct, I think Bud Selig and MLB as a whole should get a Bud for reneging on their oral promise to compensate the coaches and training staff. Selig is making somewhere in the ballpark of $15 million per season to turn a blind eye to the Jeffery Lorias of the world, and yet the sport itself cannot pony up somewhere in the nature of $1.5 million. The players are in the clubhouse, and it appears that no game will get played today. There is no joy in Mudville, Major League Baseball has struck out.
The situation has been resolved since he made the submission, but we’re running it on general principle. And of course…
For blatant hypocrisy, attempts to rewrite history, profiting from the steroid era (to the tune of a $15 million-plus compensation package) while punishing players for doing likewise and ignoring his role (in the steroid era) I bequeath the following to the commissioner of baseball (well ... y'know).
To reiterate the guidelines…
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 your nominees 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.
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.