What an incredible season for Major League Baseball! There were so many great moments throughout the year and if I could remember any one of them I might not be secretly terrified that I have early-onset dementia.
I do remember seeing the Pirates make the playoffs for the first time since a normal-sized head Barry Bonds roamed their outfield. The Dodgers prove that money can buy success even with one of the worst managers in the league. Alex Rodriguez proved that no matter how much a player is despised, he can still find ways to make it worse.
I don’t know about the rest of you –mainly because we haven’t been formally introduced – but I actually had a heck of a year myself. I wrote and directed my first feature film. I’m currently working on a comedy/variety show for the television. Also, my sportswriting readership has grown exponentially and with it countless thousands who think I am an idiot. Sorry, folks, you’re going to have to get in line behind my ex-girlfriends.
One of the easiest ways to feel good about what’s happening in your life is seeing others do terribly – especially your enemies – but also just anyone. Maybe that makes me a bad person. Maybe it doesn’t. But probably it does.
So, here we are in the post-season and as other writers are preparing their articles for who should win the major awards in baseball, let’s take a moment and revel in the awfulness of the past year together. Enjoy!
Worst manager: Ron Washington
The National League was loaded with possibilities for this award – including almost every playoff team. Those managers have teams that succeeded in spite of the manager. Washington gets credit for two choke jobs two years in a row after an epic World Series choke job. And that’s enough to win the Jim Tracy Award of Awfulness. Dusty Baker tried like heck to win, but all he got was fired.
Worst pitcher: Barry Zito
Baseball is an odd sport. While Barry was one of the best players in the league, he never even made it to the World Series. He would then become one of the worst and over-paid pitchers in the league – and of course win two World Series titles with the Giants. This season he continued his terribleness while being paid almost $20 million. It’s a rough way to finish his career. Oh wait it isn’t? Of course not – not with folks like Brian Sabean and Ruben Amaro, Jr. still running teams.
Worst batter: Ichiro Suzuki
Actually the worst hitter and overall player was the Marlins’ Adeiny Hechavarria. But he’s a rookie and a lot of what being the worst is about is what kind of performance was expected. One thing you can say about Ichiro’s batting is that he’s a solid defender. Maybe they could make up a position like the pitcher where they play defense and never bat. And we could call it the “Designated Ichiro.”
Worst fielder: Miguel Cabrera
Most teams who have a defensive nightmare like Cabrera on their team find some way to get him off the field. The problem for the Tigers is that first base is already at maximum capacity with Price Fielder and the DH is Victor Martinez, another defensive black hole. In my Internet exploits this year I have found out that some Tigers fans actually think Cabrera (the worst-fielding third baseman in the last 20 years) is good. Maybe compared to the city of Detroit as a whole?
Worst umpire: Unsure
If you Google “Bad Umpire Calls 2013” there are “About 1,570,000 results.” That seems about right. I don’t get why we can’t be using some sort of technology with these guys. I mean, come on! We put George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in outer space but we can’t give an umpire a simple yes/no device utilizing the technology that’s already in place.
Worst beard: Brian Wilson
Last year it was Wilson’s Giants’ teammate Sergio Romo. This year Wilson regains the title – with authority! Really, really spectacularly disgusting stuff growing off their faces. These guys just need to grab one of the Red Sox players and then they’ve got a ZZ Top cover band.
Worst mustache: Joba Chamberlain
Joba’s mustache was short-lived. But you know what they say: “Bright stars burn out fast.” He says he shaved off his stache because “it wasn’t doing us any good” – translation: SVU kept busting into the clubhouse to interrogate him. A close second here is Carlos Villanueva and his “beardstache” – a really solid effort at making everyone everywhere uncomfortable.
Worst tattoo: Elvis Andrus
In the pre-season Elvis got himself a tattoo that was so elaborate that it caused him enough pain to actually miss a game. “And what was the tattoo?” you might ask. It was an almost life-sized drawing of his father. A touching sentiment, but man, is Elvis going to be bummed when he finds out about framed pictures?
Worst Injury: Jeff Baker
Tough choice this year. Jeff Baker sprained his thumb while high-fiving his teammates. That’s just silly. But on the other hand (haha! Right?) there’s the Colby Rasmus injury: as they were running out to the field between innings, teammate Anthony “Anything” Gose threw a ball to Rasmus and hit him square in the face, broke his nose and hospitalized him. However, Baker wins by a nose (haha! Right?) because his injury cost him millions of dollars. Before the injury he was having a dynamite season and was headed toward a huge payday in free agency. When he returned to play, his batting numbers plummeted in tandem with his next contract.
Worst team: Houston Astros
What can you say about the Houston Astros? They knew it was coming. You knew it. I knew it. This is all part of their plan. The one bright spot of the year was splitting the season series with the Angels – which makes the Angels the runner-up for worst team. Honorable mention goes to the Phillies for spending $160 million and not coming anywhere near the playoffs. That is a very difficult achievement.
Worst offense: Miami Marlins
After the Marlins stole a bunch of money from the city of Miami for their new ugly stadium and then defaulted on their commitment to winning by trading the free agents they signed the year before, most people knew that they would be bad. And they were – but primarily on offense where they were far and away the least productive in baseball. However, congratulations are in order to the Houston Astros for making it out of the bottom three. (The plan is working?)
Worst defense: Philadelphia Phillies
This is what happens when you sign declining players to contract extensions and then bring in terrible players like Michael Young – the National League’s worst third baseman – for a mere $15 million. The high-scoring Citizens Bank Ballpark is the wrong place to have a bad defense. You need to get as many outs as possible.
Worst pitching: Houston Astros
Okay, maybe the plan isn’t working completely yet. The Astros were terrible (again, except against the Angels).
Worst GM: Ruben Amaro Jr.
This award is usually Ned Colletti’s to lose, but his ability to spend more than anyone else in the league obscures the truth that he’s not very good at his job. But enough about Ned. Let’s talk about Ruben. This is a guy whose success as a GM primarily came from being able to trade with the Houston Astros’ GM Ed Wade – gutting the Astros at almost no expense for the Phillies. Now that Ed isn’t working for the Astros and works surprisingly for the Phillies (though one could say he was always working for them), Ruben GM’ing has gone downhill and in addition to fielding one of the oldest teams in the league, they also have the third-highest payroll with very little hope for success in the near future.
Worst owner: Jeffrey Loria
The Frank McCourt Award goes to the Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria. McCourt got run out of the league on a rail and Loria gets to hang around being terrible to players, fans and even non-fans who pay taxes to fund his stadium. Get out of baseball and get into politics, you shyster.
Worst stadium: Tropicana Field
As before, “The Trop” will always win this award until the day when it is blown to pieces by an angel of mercy. Media and bloggers go on and on about how Rays fans don’t come out to support their team, even when they are winning. Have any of these people been to this ballpark? It is a nightmare. The lighting, dimensions, sight-lines, catwalks and food vendors all combine for one of the worst days out you can imagine. I’m with you Rays’ fans – watch the games at home.
Worst announcer: Joe Buck
I’ve always said that this award will be his for as long as he keeps showing up on my TV. But his partner Tim McCarver is closing in on the award. He’s one of the most confounding humans around. It’s hard to understand why a network would let a guy like Tim on the air when he sounds like that uncle that everyone’s got who spent too much time around lead-based paint. (P.S. – Shout out to TBS’ baseball broadcast. You are closing the gap on the unwatchability scale with your odd choice of not-so-bright former athletes and your constant stream of incorrect statistics.)
If you feel like I left something out, let me know. Don’t keep it bottled up inside you. It’s okay to let it out. You’ll feel better. I know I do.