A note on awards season

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I had some fun with the Ted Williams post this morning, but I would like to make one observation about the upcoming MVP debates and awards season in general:  they matter and they don’t. And that’s not necessarily a contradiction.

Remember that time when the voters got the MVP vote wrong and we all died? God, that sucked.  Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. Because no one is truly harmed if the MVP voters screw up. Amazingly, that even held when Alan Trammell was ripped off in 1987, and I was pretty sure that was going to kill me. In that sense, no, the awards debates don’t truly matter.

At the same time, the opposite reaction — that since it’s just baseball awards these debates are not even worth having — is also dumb.  We’re baseball fans. Arguing about awards is the best possible way to spend one’s time when actual games aren’t on. What the hell else should we do? Pretend there isn’t interesting baseball stuff to consider? Act like we’re above having a time-worn bar argument about which player is better than another? Jeez, that would make us friggin’ communists.

Where to find the balance? I think it’s just like anything else: we should jut be suspicious of extremists. People who think the wrong guy winning is tragedy of some kind are silly. If you’re a Mike Trout guy, the world is not going to end if Miguel Cabrera wins the award and vice-versa.  At the same time, however, people who tell me that it’s not worth even engaging in the exercise are off base too.  Go not have fun someplace else, please.

Anyway, I’ve not sat down and considered any award fully. I’m seriously leaning Mike Trout for the MVP, of course, but I could theoretically have my mind changed. And if that doesn’t happen I’m not gonna consider it an atrocity if Cabrera wins.  It’s just baseball.

But dude, if a bunch of writers try to argue that base running and defense is some sort of esoteric sabermetric invention, I will take up arms and fight until either death or glory is achieved.

Wait … gotta re-read my own post again.  Damn.

Sean Manaea pitches first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.