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MLB Players Alumni Association announces “Heart and Hustle Award” nominees

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The MLB Players Alumni Assocation announced its annual “Heart and Hustle Award” preliminary winners today. The award is given to one player from each team “who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game.”

The voters are alumni players with established relationships to each team. The nominees consider the player’s “passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.” The team winners are all nominees for the overall “Heart and Hustle Award” given in November. Last year’s winner was Todd Frazier.

The team winners for 2017 are:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

NATIONAL LEAGUE

This award has drawn some criticism in the past for playing into old tired stereotypes of what constitutes “heart” and “hustle.” Specifically, old cliches about how it’s the gritty white dudes who worked hard while black and Latino players were more “naturally gifted” and, often, were accused of being lazy loafers (David Eckstein was the first winner, natch). It’s crazy that such assumptions still linger among those who talk about sports, but they do.

In 2015, 22 of the 30 Heart and Hustle winners were white Americans. Last year 21 of the nominees were, meaning that 26.7% of nominees were people of color, foreign born or both. This year 19 of the 30 are. People of color comprised 42.5% of Opening Day rosters. It’s obviously not the MLBPAA’s job to fill some quota — and things are improving slowly — but it’s probably worth observing that the old “hustle” tropes continue to apply to white Americans a bit more liberally than to others.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 6, Blue Jays 5: Miguel Cabrera wins it with a walkoff walk in the 11th. Or I suppose you could say Lucas Harrell lost it by issuing that bases loaded walk. Except, he actually didn’t get the loss because Jeff Beliveau issued the walk to the runner who was forced in on the walk and was thus responsible for the losing run. Really, though, when the bases get loaded due to a couple of walks and a fielding error and then the game-ending run is walked in, everyone can take a piece of the credit for it. Lost in all of this was that the Tigers bullpen tossed five shutout innings allowing only one hit. That’s a pretty nice collective effort too.

Royals 4, Rangers 3: If you think the walkoff walk was somewhat dubious way for a team to win a game, how about a walkoff two-run single that should’ve been a routine fly ball that would’ve sent the game into the 10th inning except for the fact that the right fielder lost the ball in the sun? Check out Shin-Soo Choo‘s follies in the bottom of the ninth:

Sun happens.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: How about a more conventional walkoff? Pittsburgh was down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and rallied for the win with a Jordy Mercer RBI double and Adam Frazier‘s walkoff RBI single, both of which came off of Brett Cecil. On Friday Josh Bell hit a walkoff three-run homer off of Seung-Hwan Oh, so I guess it didn’t matter who the Cardinals ran out there.

Yankees 3, Red Sox 0; Red Sox 3, Yankees 0: After playing for 16 innings and nearly 6 hours on Saturday I’m sure the Red Sox and Yankees loved to have a double header yesterday. Especially a day-night affair. Even better: the split here meant that, standings-wise, everything cancelled out. But they’re ballplayers and that’s what they do. In the first game CC Sabathia and three relievers combined to shut Boston out on four hits with a Didi Gregorius homer highlighting the win. In the nightcap Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer and Dustin Pedroia singled in a run as David Price tossed eight shutout innings.

Price had some help. Watch Jackie Bradley Jr. save the shutout with a home-run-robbing snag:

 

Nationals 14, Reds 4: A five-run fifth inning from Washington broke things open in this laugher as the Nats rung up Homer Bailey for eight runs on eight hits. Washington hit five homers with Daniel Murphy slugging two — three-run and a two-run jacks — and Anthony Rendon, Adam Lind and Jose Lobaton all going deep as well.

Rockies 13, Mets 4: Colorado had a 9-0 lead after three and a half innings, highlighted by a Nolan Arenado three-run blast. Seven of those nine runs came off of Steven Matz who couldn’t even retire a batter in the second inning. Late in the game Charlie Blackmon hit an inside-the-park homer. Sorta. That’s what it looked like in practice as the ball hit the wall and bounced onto the field and Blackmon motored around the bases. But the ball actually cleared the fence and Curtis Granderson — who knew that a replay review would’ve confirmed a home run — just casually retrieved it. Since either result of a replay review would’ve resulted in a home run, there was no review and it remained an inside-the-park homer since that was the initial ruling on the field.

Dodgers 3, Marlins 2: Los Angeles remains hot, winning its ninth game in a row and sweeping the Marlins. Rich Hill allowed one run over five innings and Justin Turner went 2-for-3 with a homer and a sac fly. It would’ve been a larger margin of victory but Marcell Ozuna robbed Kiké Hernandez of a homer with a great catch.

Cubs 8, Orioles 0: Jose Quintana was fantastic in his debut with the Cubs, tossing seven shutout innings and striking out 12. For years he struggled with run support on the South Side, but it was not an issue for his first game with the Northsiders as Chicago built a 4-0 lead after two innings and then got two runs homers from both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo later.

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 1: The Braves probably want to trade Jaime Garcia. Him allowing only one run and striking out seven over seven innings helps that some. Matts Kemp and Adams hit homers for Atlanta, the former’s a three-run blast, the latter’s a solo shot.

Mariners 7, White Sox 6: Chicago had a 5-0 lead thanks to a two Avisail Garcia homers, but that didn’t hold up as the Mariners came back and Nelson Cruz hit a homer in the top of the 10th to put Seattle up for good. It was the second straight game in which he hit a go-ahead home run. Seattle has won four in a row while the White Sox have now lost fourt straight.

Phillies 5, Brewers 2: Nick Williams hit a grand slam to account for four of the Phillies’ five runs. The slam came off of Tyler Webb. The last time Williams faced Webb was in a Triple-A game last month. He homered off of Webb then too. It’s nice to be a big leaguer for only a few weeks and already have the number of another big leaguer.

Astros 5, Twins 3Mike Fiers struck out a season-high 11 over seven and Nori Aoki had two hits and drove in two. Houston took two of three from the Twins. Can we just fast-forward to the Astros-Dodgers World Series now?

 

Angels 4, Rays 3: Tied 2-2 in the eighth when C.J. Cron a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth. The Rays threatened in the ninth and did pick up one run, but the Angels escaped with the sweep-avoiding win.

Athletics 7, Indians 3: Trevor Bauer allowed four runs on three hits and walked three while working only two-thirds of an inning, losing this one before it even really began. His counterpart, Sean Manaea, allowed only two over seven innings and struck out eight. Matt Joyce, Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman each drove in two runs. Oakland sweeps the Indians in three, reducing Cleveland’s division lead to one and a half games.

Padres 7, Giants 1: Corey Spangenberg and Hector Sanchez each hit three-run homers before the third inning was over as San Diego wins in a laugher. Sanchez hit a two-run walk-off homer on Saturday night. That’s about as good a weekend as a backup catcher can have.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 4, Nationals 2: Nelson Cruz‘s three-run homer in the sixth gave the M’s their first game with more than one run scored in a week and snapped their five-game losing streak. Five M’s relievers held the Nats scoreless over the final four frames. I know the game changes over time and stuff, but I really would like to go back in time and see the reaction of some pitcher from the 1920s if you told him that it wasn’t all that unusual for a 4-2 game to feature 12 pitchers.

Pirates 9, Braves 4: Bartolo Colon got shelled again — the Buccos lit him up for seven runs — and Adam Frazier hit a three-run homer. Ivan Nova cruised for eight, going into the ninth with a 9-2 lead, but he ran out of gas, gave up three hits and had to be lifted. He was mad after the game for not getting the CG. That pitcher from the 1920s would understand that much better, I assume. At least if he could get past the part about two men from the Dominican Republic pitching in a major league game.

Phillies 2, Rockies 1: Tommy Joseph homered in the seventh to tie things up at one and then singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th to give Philly a walkoff win. Odubel Herrera, meanwhile, wore a platinum sombrero, which is always worth noting.

Rays 4, Angels 0Matt Andriese scattered six hits over eight shutout innings. Colby Rasmus knocked in all four of the Rays runs with a two run single, driving in Evan Longoria and Steven Souza and a ground rule double, driving in Evan Longoria and Steven Souza.

Cubs 5, Giants 1: The Cubs got dingers from Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist and took their third game in a row. That was three of four from the Giants overall as they finish a 7-2 home stand. The champs, who moved into first place with this win and the Cardinals and Brewers’ losses, may finally be shaking off those early season cobwebs.

Red Sox 6, Rangers 2: The Bosox likewise seem to be turning things around. They take their fourth straight. Here, five Boston pitchers combined to rack up 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings. Closer Craig Kimbrel got four in the ninth thanks to a batter reaching on a wild pitch strike three. Did you ever stop to think how random that rule is by the way? I’m not sure what the logic is of a batter being able to run to first due to a dropped strike three. There has to be some — most baseball rules are based in some utility as opposed to mere gamesmanship — but I’m not sure I’ve ever read or been told why that is. If I have, I forgot. Time to go Googling.

Padres 4, Mets 3: Dinelson Lamet made his big league debut and held the Mets to one run over five and five relievers had his back after that. Michael Conforto was 1-for-5 with four strikeouts. He also did this:

 

The conditions were terrible — fog and mist and stuff, so it’s not really his fault – but I can’t recall ever seeing a guy do the hands-over-head move to protect himself for a lost ball that fell THAT far away from him.

Diamondbacks 4, Brewers 0: Are you Johnny Ray?
Are you Slim Ray?
Are you Paid Ray?
Are you Sting Ray?
Are you Nick Ray?
Are you Jimmy Ray?
Who wants to know? Who wants to know?

 

Astros 7, Tigers 6Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez and Juan Centeno all homered off Justin Verlander in Houston’s five-run fourth inning, but the Tigers clawed back to tie it, thanks in large part to Justin Upton who hit an RBI single and homered. Jake Marisnick hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth, however, and that held up. Based on Marisnick’s reaction it seems like he thought it was the ninth and that he just hit a walkoff:

After the game his teammates were ribbing him about it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Marisnick said with a grin when asked about it. “No comment.” Heh.

Dodgers 7, Cardinals 3: Down 3-2 in the fourth, Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda singled in two to help his own cause. Hyun-Jin Ryu, meanwhile, made his first major league relief appearance and tossed four scoreless innings to earn the save. After the game Ryu said that he wasn’t really comfortable with the role and feels, in his heart, he’s a starter. Manager Dave Roberts, meanwhile, talked up how “lethal” Ryu was in long relief with Maeda and it was revealed that he and the front office had been talking about this for a while. Stay tuned for some drama over this.

Royals vs. Yankees; Reds vs. Indians — POSTPONED:

All at sea again
And now my hurricanes
Have brought down
This ocean rain
To bathe me again
My ship’s a sail
Can you hear its tender frame
Screaming from beneath the waves
Screaming from beneath the waves
All hands on deck at dawn
Sailing to sadder shores
Your port in my heavy storms
Harbours the blackest thoughts
I’m at sea again
And now your hurricanes
Have brought down
This ocean rain
To bathe me again