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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.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.