Craig Calcaterra

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MLB announces some new awards


When people think of baseball awards they think mostly of the BBWAA awards: the MVP, the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and such. Despite that, there are lots of other awards, of course. Major League Baseball has spent a lot of time coming up with competitor awards to that of the BBWAA — Hank Aaron Award anyone? — only to have them remain fairly obscure in comparison to the BBWAA awards.

So this year MLB is doing something a bit different. Instead of awards that are direct analogs to the BBWAA awards, they’re creating something akin to the MTV Movie Awards. An award that, while dealing with the same broad subject matter as the Oscars, comes at things from a very different approach and awards different, somewhat quirky accomplishments. Ladies and gentlemen, the Esurance MLB Awards:

Featuring 24 award categories, supplemental to the traditional awards and built in part from the GIBBY Awards and the MLB Network Social Media Awards, the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards include such performance-based categories as Best Major Leaguer, Best Bounceback Player and Best Breakout Player. The awards also feature a number of categories outside the field of play, such as Best Social Media Personality, Best Fan Catch, Best Video Board Moment, Best Interview and Best Celebrity Fan. Fans can vote exclusively at and the 30 Club websites across computers, smartphones and tablets.

There will be a hybrid voting process with five different groups of voters – fans, members of the baseball media, club front-office personnel, former MLB players and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members – each count for 20% of the winner selection. Winners in each category will receive the trophy known as the GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball). The award show will be on both MLB Network and in on November 20.

Eh, it’s programming content for baseball in the dead period between the World Series and the Winter Meetings. And it’s a sponsored thing so MLB will get some big Esurance bucks, I suppose. But I predict that, like a lot of non-BBWAA awards, fans will generally ignore them because they’re not seen as OFFICIAL or ESTABLISHED or whatever people think of the BBWAA Awards, no matter how compromised those awards are themselves.

The only other thing I’ll say is if the “Best Fan Catch” is some dude endangering his baby to get a $15 baseball, I’m going to write something highly serious and scolding about it, because unlike the folks at MLB, I know EXACTLY what content fans want to consume.

How the Mets picked up Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

There’s a great tick-tock over at the New York Times about the Mets’ decision to trade for Yoenis Cespedes. The meeting in the big room with Sandy Alderson and all of the assistants and advisors. The pros and cons and shape of the debate about giving up a good prospect for a rental. And finally, the decision by Alderson to pull the trigger.

Of course, right after that decision, he had to check with someone who was also in the room all of this time:

But on his way out of the room, [Aldreson] paused to confer with [Jeff] Wilpon, who had been listening to the debate.

Alderson asked him, just to be sure: Was he comfortable making the deal?

“Go for it,” Wilpon told him.

If Cespedes helps lead the Mets to glory this year, that will probably do a lot to help Jeff Wilpon’s image among Mets fans, I imagine.

Beyond that, a nice article both about the trade mechanics — which is stuff I find fascinating and which we very rarely hear until books are written about the principles years later — and some stuff about Cespedes himself from some of the people who know him well.

Spare me the “New York is becoming a Mets town!” stuff

Mets Fans

This was inevitable, as the Mets are doing well this year and have truly excited their fan base: the story about how New York is “turning into a Mets town.” From the New York Times:

It could be that the Yankees’ seemingly unshakable hold on the city’s baseball heart is loosening amid the sudden and stunning turnaround for the Mets . . . measuring the pulse of a fan base in a two-team baseball city is never simple, especially when one of them is the Yankees, with their 27 World Series championship and 20 retired numbers.

But some telling evidence points to trouble for the Yankees and a boon for the Mets, suggesting that New York might be turning into a Mets town for the first time since their championship season of 1986.

What follows are anecdotes about the “feeling” of the city and numbers about attendance and TV ratings purportng to support the thesis of a shift in city-wide baseball allegiance.

None of the numbers or anecdotes are surprising. Teams like the Mets which turn their fortunes around see increased attendance, ratings and exuberance from fans. Teams like the Yankees which have won for a long time but aren’t as dominant as they once were tend to see complacency and maybe a bit of boredom among the fan base. It’s a tale as old as time in two-team cities or one-team cities.

But none of this establishes one team taking over the city in any real way. Hardcore Yankees fans who wore their gear all over the place didn’t become Mets fans in early August. Mets fans who had nothing to be happy about over the past several years didn’t become Yankees fans and haven’t now suddenly switched back.

Fans who are energized are more demonstrative fans. Fans who are less energized are less demonstrative. People who are, at best, casual fans or have no strong allegiance — as you might expect in a city like New York which has a ton of transplants — will root for a winner and switch back and forth because, hell, why not? It’s fun to be caught up in something exciting. So, at bottom, stories like these tell us nothing other than “a team is winning and people like that team more now than when the team was losing.”

But that’s not news, right?