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

 

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.