Mid-Season Awards, Part 1
We’ve reached the halfway point of the season and it’s time to dole out some awards.Â Jack Bauer and the rest of “24″ help the writer out.
After a surprisingly tense and well-executed World Baseball Classic got us talking about baseball a short time before the inception of the 2009 season, we saw some surprising headlines early, such as â€œThe Pirates have a good pitching staffâ€ and â€œThe Nationals canâ€™t spell their team name correctly.â€Â Recently, though, the 2009 season has returned to a semblance of normalcy.Â In the American League, Boston, New York, and Tampa will battle through the second half for supremacy in the East; Detroit, Minnesota, and Chicago will do the same in the Central; and the Angels, despite injuries and a shockingly ineffective bullpen, have climbed back to the top of the West.Â In the National League, the Phillies and Dodgers sit atop their respective divisions, while the Central remains a quagmire between the Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers.
Similarly, after the surprisingly thrilling and heart-wrenching â€œ24: Redemptionâ€ convinced me to rethink my position of leaving â€œ24â€ off my DVR, Jack Bauerâ€™s seventh day-long escapade offered some genuinely exciting twists and shocks early: compelling characters, a new threat from a fictional war-torn African nation, and Tony Almeida!Â Then, around hours 12-15, the show returned to its own normalcy: predictable revelations, over-the-top melodrama, and totally unnecessary storylines involving Kim Bauer.
As we head into the All-Star Break, here are some mid-season awards, ripped from the headlines of season seven of â€œ24.â€
The Tony Almeida â€œLeast surprising surpriseâ€ Award goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers.Â At the beginning of the season, the producers brought fiancÃ©e favorite Tony Almeida back from the dead.Â They did everything they could to conceal Tonyâ€™s actual allegiances.Â I got a hold of his to-do list for the day:
â€¢Â Â Â Pretend to be a bad guy,
â€¢Â Â Â Pretend to be a good guy
â€¢Â Â Â Be a good guy with reservations
â€¢Â Â Â Be a good guy that gets kidnapped
â€¢Â Â Â Get saved by a bad guy pretending to be a good guy thatâ€™s actually still a bad guy
â€¢Â Â Â Be a good guy
â€¢Â Â Â Destroy bad guysâ€™ plans
â€¢Â Â Â Get arrested
â€¢Â Â Â Hope other bad guy escapes and that I happen to be in the same helicopter as director of FBI as he chases escaping bad guy
â€¢Â Â Â Bad guy shoots FBI director, doesn’t kill him
â€¢Â Â Â Reveal you’re a bad guy and kill FBI guy
â€¢Â Â Â Tell Jack youâ€™re not really a bad guy but that you wonâ€™t follow the law
â€¢Â Â Â Kill other bad guy, get away scott-free.
The only point that Tony didnâ€™t accomplish was the last one.Â Jack shot him in the leg.Â However, it was clear from the first moment he showed up that he wasnâ€™t going to be on Jackâ€™s side at the end of the day.Â Anybody with that facial hair has to be a double agent.
Along the same lines, eveyone seems shocked that the Dodgers have the best record in the league.Â When you build a lineup that includes Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Orlando Hudson, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Juan Pierre as a utility guy; and combine it with a pitching staff of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, an over-performing Randy Wolf, Hiroki Kuroda, and Jonathan Broxton on the back-end; what is so surprising when that team succeeds?Â Add Joe Torreâ€™s evenness and sense of calm, and L.A.â€™s success is easily the least surprising surprise of the 2009 season.
Runners up: The U.S. being eliminated by Japan in the WBC, Eric Bedardâ€™s 2.58 ERA a year removed from his big contract and the media spotlight
The American Government â€œWorst run organizationâ€ Award is presented to the New York Mets.Â If I have learned anything from watching â€œ24,â€ itâ€™s that the organizations charged with running and protecting America have more leaks than Johnny Deppâ€™s boat in the beginning of â€œPirates of the Caribbean.â€Â This season, hundreds of traitors corrupted every level of the government, from senatorsâ€™ aids to FBI analysts.Â Clearly, the civil service exams need to be a little stricter.
As for the Mets, the injury bug bit this team like it was drenched in sugar water, but that does not excuse the play of the replacement players.Â When a young call-up finds himself on major league turf, he must, above all else, play fundamentally sound baseball.Â He may not hit like Carlos Beltran or run like Jose Reyes, but he should be able to grind out at-bats, intelligently run the bases, and throw to the correct base.Â The Mets donâ€™t do any of those things.Â When young players in an organization screw up the basics of the game, the coaches and general manager have to shoulder some of that responsibility.Â Right now, everyone in the Mets organization is pointing fingers at one another, while the team continues its swan dive out of playoff contention.
Runners up: Nationals, PiratesÂ
The Chloe O’Brien â€œBest support staffâ€ Award is presented to Rick Peterson for his work with Scott Kazmir.Â Before Kazmir went on the DL and worked with Peterson, the 25-year-old pitcher was 4-4 with a 7.69 ERA while recording 35 strikeouts to 29 walks.Â A.P.â€”that is After Petersonâ€”Kazmir has made two starts, going a hard luck 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA and an 11:2 strikeout to walk ratio.Â Where would Kazmir be without Peterson?Â Probably the same place Jack Bauer would be without Chloe at the computer.
Runner up: Nick Swisher
The Morris O’Brien â€œMost dubious support staffâ€ Award is bestowed upon the Metsâ€™ training staff.Â They just canâ€™t keep anybody on the field.Â Injuries include: J.J. Putz, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran.Â In almost every case, the medical staff pushed the players back onto the field before they were ready, resulting in more serious injuries.Â Omar Minaya now has too many holes to plug, and he probably wishes he could disappear like Morris in the middle of the season.
Runners up: Washington Nationalsâ€™ bullpen
The Jon Voight â€œI can’t believe they’re paying me that much to sleepwalk through a majority of this seasonâ€ Award is given to Grady Sizemore (.231, 11 HR, 8 SB), Kerry Wood (5.08 ERA, 2-3, 4 BS), and really anyone on the Indians whose name does not rhyme with â€œBin Boo Mooâ€ or â€œBliff Bee.â€Â Voight wandered through a majority of the season squinting, clenching his jaw, and basically giving the same performance he gave in â€œEnemy of the Stateâ€ and â€œVarsity Blues.â€Â If â€œ24â€ had been an episode of â€œSNL,â€ Voight would have been the actor that emotionlessly reads the cue cards, while the cast members desperately scramble to salvage the show.
Through 84 games, the Indians are 33-51, rank 9th in the AL in batting average, 13th in opponent batting average and opponent OPS, and 14th in ERA, saves, and quality starts.Â How many more losses until Kerry Wood and Cliff Lee go on the DL with â€œshoulder stiffnessâ€ or â€œtendonitis?â€Â 5?Â 10?Â Less?
Runner up: Milton Bradley
The Kim Bauer’s flaming sleeve â€œMoment where we stretched credulity to the limitâ€ Award goes to the Manny Ramirez PED saga.Â Whether sheâ€™s being stalked by a cougar in season two, inexplicably working for CTU in season 3, or being chased by the actor that played the casino manager in ESPNâ€™s â€œTilt,â€ Elisha Cuthbertâ€™s Kim Bauer never disappoints.Â Her presence derails a season.Â Always.
Mannyâ€™s failure of a drug test and subsequent suspension pushed the story of PED use in the Major Leagues into new territory.Â Just like Kim Bauerâ€™s presence, weâ€™re no longer outraged by stories of PED use, weâ€™re just sort of tired of it and wish it would go away.Â While Mannyâ€™s suspension came with its own intrigue, in that he was allowed to spend a 10-day â€œrehabâ€ assignment in the minors (I still donâ€™t know what he was rehabbing), not a whole lot was settled.Â He still gets paid to play baseball.Â Heâ€™ll still be booed on road trips.Â Heâ€™ll still be cheered in L.A.Â And we wonâ€™t know anything about his place in history until five years after he retires.
Perhaps what enraged me the most about the whole situation was the discovery that Homer Simpsonâ€™s hunger strike was ultimately in vain, and that the Isotopes had in fact moved from Springfield to Albuquerque.
Runner up: New Yankee Stadium there have been 142 HR hit in Yankee stadium through 7/6…there were 160 hit all of last season
Follow Josh Deitch on Twitter.Â Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.