The MLB Players Alumni Association announces “Heart and Hustle Award” winners

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The MLB Players Alumni Assocation announced its annual “Heart and Hustle Award” 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.”

This award has drawn some criticism in the past for playing into old, tired stereotypes of what constitutes “heart” and “hustle.” Specifically, those 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. It’s crazy that such assumptions still linger among those who talk about sports, but they do. For example, last year 22 of the 30 Heart and Hustle winners were white Americans. Twenty-eight of the 30 were U.S. born.

This year’s group of winners is considerably more diverse. Here’s hoping that’s a sign that those old notions of who hustles and who doesn’t — and what “hustle” is, exactly — continues to fade into history.

American League

Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
Chicago White Sox: Todd Frazier
Cleveland Indians: Mike Napoli
Detroit Tigers: Ian Kinsler
Houston Astros: George Springer
Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Kole Calhoun
Minnesota Twins: Eduardo Nuñez
New York Yankees: Didi Gregorius
Oakland Athletics: Marcus Semien
Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay Rays: Logan Forsythe
Texas Rangers: Ian Desmond
Toronto Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
Atlanta Braves: Nick Markakis
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo
Cincinnati Reds: Zack Cozart
Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon
Los Angeles Dodgers: Chase Utley
Miami Marlins: Marcell Ozuna
Milwaukee Brewers: Jonathan Lucroy
New York Mets: Curtis Granderson
Philadelphia Phillies: Andres Blanco
Pittsburgh Pirates: David Freese
San Diego Padres: Jon Jay
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Crawford
St. Louis Cardinals: Stephen Piscotty
Washington Nationals: Daniel Murphy

 

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”