Okay, I'm gonna do something new. I'm going to give out meaningless, pointless, arbitrary awards (like the Grammys) for various sports related things. Now, all the categories will be limited to New England sports. The team, person, or event must have something significant to do with New England. Also, since winter sports traverse years, starting in one year and ending in the next, we're going to define "year" to mean January 1st, 2006 until December 31st, 2006.
Now keep in mind, these awards are determined strictly by me. You may disagree with them and they may be outright stupid, but they're my decisions
And since this is the first year of the Boston Blood Sox Awards, I'll briefly explain each award.
We're going to start off with the Harry Frazee Award for Goat of the Year. This goes to the athlete(s), coach(es), or executive(s) who were called out and used as whipping boys (or girls) for the downfall or troubles of a team. Now, this doesn't mean that they were responsible for anything, they just became the focus of anger amongst the media and fans. The award is named after Harry Frazee who sold Babe Ruth along with many other great players to New York.
The winner is Manny Ramirez, Left-Fielder, Boston Red Sox
When the Red Sox fell apart near the end of 2006, Manny stopped playing. The anger of Red Sox fans and sportswriters at this lack of heart and hustle incited yet another off-season of Manny Ramirez trade talks. Of course, Manny didn't help the situation much by not playing and then asking for a trade. But there were definitely a great many fans and writers who took the opportunity to try and run Manny out of town on a rail, regardless of the consequences. Manny took the brunt of Red Sox Nation's frustrations over a ruined summah.
Speaking of sportswriters...
On to the Dan Shaughnessy Award for Worst Sports Writing. This goes to the writer that embarrassed himself the most, either through bad writing, or poorly crafted and supported opinions. Or both.
The winner is Dan Shaughnessy, columnist, Boston Globe
Dan is the epitome of Boston sports writing. And that isn't necessarily a good thing. Boston sports writers are overly general, too quick to judge, too quick to take sides, suffer from "binkyism" (choosing favorites), and often can't see past the surface of any issue or situation. Dan is a good example of this. Now, his writing isn't that bad and this is more of a joke at his expense than anything else. Honestly, I like some of his books, I just think a lot of his columns are a bit ridiculous from time to time.
Some friendly suggestions for Matsuzaka
Piecing it all together
In the second one, he predicts USC will beat OSU in the title game. The prediction was published the day USC, "a virtual NFL team," lost to UCLA. And we all know that USC didn't make it to the title game. Furthermore, anyone who thinks USC is a the next best thing to an NFL team is a fool. NFL teams would not lose to Oregon State, or UCLA. Plus, if they were an NFL team, Pete Carroll wouldn't be able to couch them. After all, he's a crappy NFL coach.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Are all the Boston Blood Sox Awards negative? Unfortunately, most of them are positive. I just wanted to start off with the negative ones before getting to the upbeat ones. Sadly, here is the last negative award.
The Peyton Manning and Alex Rodriguez Award for Biggest Disappointment is given to any team, player(s), coach(es), or executive(s) that essentially snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, that was poised on the precipice of greatness and slipped on their own two feet. The one thing that made New England swear the most.
And the winner is the 2006 Boston Red Sox
After making the playoffs for the third straight year in 2005, Sox fans had high hopes for the team. Despite losing Johnny Damon to New York, we had acquired Coco Crisp, Josh Beckett, and a few seemingly decent relievers. We also had prospects on the way, a healthy Schilling, a healthy Nixon, and no more Edgar Renteria.
The team started off nicely, too. After a par April, they exploded in May and June, going 34-18. They came back down to earth in July, and in August, they went further down into the depths of hell. Their 9-21 record in August was one of the worst months of baseball you'll see. They finished with a .500 September/October that kept the season from being a total and utter embarrassment.
Against the AL, we were 70-74. We were 4-5 against the Royals, 10-9 against Tampa, and 7-12 against Toronto. We had the 8th best record in the AL. Only Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Texas, and Seattle had worse records. We lead the East for a good amount of time early on, but then slipped behind New York. We continued to slip until we fell behind Toronto.
Not only was 2006 the first time we've failed to make the playoffs since 2002, it was the first time we finished worse than 2nd in the division since 1997. The team spent about $120 million for a team that folded, collapsed, fell-in, broke down, and sucked.
Now we can move on to the more positive awards. The Award for Hottest Cheerleader on the Patriots is given to the hottest cheerleader on the Patriots. Simple enough. Now I know it seems sexist of me to say "best" player or coach for a guy, and then say "hottest" whatever for a woman, but I don't go to Patriots games that often, I rarely get to see Patriots cheerleaders perform, so it would be difficult to say which one is the best. But I can peruse the web-site and judiciously determine who is the hottest.
And the winner is Ashleigh van Gerven out of THE Worcester State College
Don't really need to explain much, do I?
Up next is the Doug Flutie College Athlete of the Year. This goes to the best athlete that goes to a New England college/university. This award is technically open for any athlete at any school, playing any sport, at any level. However, the bigger the stage, the better. Let's say the best lacrosse player in the country goes to UMass, but the 4th best basketball player goes to BC, obviously the basketball player is on a slightly bigger stage because of his school and his sport.
And the winner is Craig Smith, Forward, Boston College Men's Basketball
Craig Smith was the heart and soul of the BC team that made it to the Sweet 16. He was All ACC first-team, and All American second team. The BC Eagles were the fourth best college sports team in New England behind UConn basketball, last year's BC hockey team, and UMass football. Smith WAS the team. Not to take anything away from the other players, but Smith was just the man for the Eagles last season. Just look at how they're doing at the beginning of the '06-'07 season.
Now it's time for the Bobby Orr Bruins Player of the Year Award. This goes to the best player on the Bruins from January to December.
The winner is Patrice Bergeron, Center
Bergeron led the Bruins in goals, assists, and points in the '05-'06 season, and he is currently 2nd on the team behind Savard in points, 2nd in goals behind Murray, and 2nd in assists behind Savard (also he's 12th in the NHL in assists). He's 21 years old and already an Assistant Captain. He's a big part of the reason why the Bruins have been able to crawl back into playoff contention in a very difficult division (at the moment, 4 of the 5 teams in the Northeast division would be in the playoffs, with the Bruins left out in 9th).
Now it's time for the Bill Russell Celtics Player of the Year Award. This goes to the best player on the Celtics, obviously.
The winner is Paul Pierce, Guard-Forward
Yeah. Paul Pierce. That's all I have to say about that.
The Drew Bledsoe Patriots Player of the Year Award goes to the best player on the Patriots.
The winner is Asante Samuel, Cornerback
Samuel tied for the League lead in interceptions with Champ Bailey at 10 picks. He didn't bring any back for a TD, but he did average 12 yards a return. Asante fell 1 INT short of tying a Patriot record, but he did tie a New England record for picks in a game with 3 against the Bears.
The Ted Williams Red Sox Player of the Year Award goes to the best player on the Sox.
The winner is David Ortiz, Designated Hitter
Papi led the team in homeruns. Had Papelbon remained healthy, he might have been a contender for this award, but Ortiz was able to go out every day and mesmerize, even when the rest of the team was doing the opposite. Fifty-four homers, 'nuf said.
The Tom Brady Award for Biggest Surprise goes to the player, team, coach, or executive that came out of nowhere and burst onto the scene as a force, even though most of us either never heard of them, or didn't think they were very good.
The winner is Jonathan Papelbon, Closer, Boston Red Sox
Papelbon went from a potential starter with some promise at the end of 2005, to being the most dominant closer we've ever seen don the Red Sox uniform. His consecutive save streak of 20 was one of the most impressive stretches of pitching you'll ever see. 29 innings, 1 earned run. Overall in '06, he saved 35 games and kept opponents to a .167 average.
The Curt Schilling Bloody Sock Award is awarded to an athlete who has demonstrated extreme toughness, grit, and determination. It is named after the famous blood-soaked sock that Schilling sported in the ALCS and World Series in 2004.
The recipient of the Bloody Sock Award is Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox.
Lester was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma near the end of the 2006 season and has since undergone treatment in his native Washington. The good news is that all signs of cancer have gone away and Lester expects to be back in 2007.
I just found this web-site on MLB Blogs:
They sell t-shirts with Lester's name and number on the back and a K Cancer logo on the front. Or, they used to, not sure if they still do but you can ask them via e-mail. Proceeds from the shirts are split between Dana Farber and the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The Best Game Award goes to the best contest involving a New England team. The game could be a great championship win, or a defeat in a well fought contest, whatever. The Best Game was...
BC Men's Basketball vs. Villanova in the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament on March 24th.
In the Metrodome, 4th seeded Boston College faced 1st seeded Villanova in a battle to determine who went on to the Elite Eight. Boston College burst out of the gate and led for most of the early part of the game. BC opened up a 9-0 lead to begin the game, and led by as many as 16 points before Villanova came back to within 4 at the end of the 1st half. In the 2nd half, Villanova tied the score at 28-28 before BC once again pulled away to lead by 8 points. But ‘Nova never quit and kept it close as the game winded down to the final minutes. BC lost the lead for the first time in the game with 2:37 left on the clock. With 0:28 left, down 51-48, Jared Dudley made a 3 pointer that tied the game. Villanova failed to score and the game went to OT.
In overtime, ‘Nova pulled ahead early 56-51, but BC crawled back to make it 56-55. With 0:42 on the clock, Villanova took a 58-55 lead. BC responded with 0:25 left with 2 points to make it 58-57. After Villanova missed a free throw, Craig Smith hit a two pointer to take the lead 59-58 with 0:12 on the clock. Villanova missed a shot but got the rebound, then Sean Williams appeared to block another shot, but it was ruled goaltending and Villanova was awarded the 2 points and the 60-59 lead. The Eagles failed to hit a desperation 3 and the game was over.
Even though Boston College lost, it was still one of the best games of the entire NCAA tournament between two very good teams.
Now it is time for the Best Athlete Award. This goes to the best performer in any sport, at any level.
The winner is David Ortiz, Designated Hitter, Boston Red Sox
David Ortiz had one of the best seasons in Red Sox history last year. He hit 54 homeruns, which led the AL, and set a new franchise record for the Sox. He knocked in 137 runs, had 85 extra-base hits, 115 total runs scored, an OBP of .413, SLG of .636, and an impressive OPS of 1.049. He also stole a base.
Ortiz was the starting first-basemen for the American League All-Star team. He won the Silver Slugger Award for Designated Hitter. He finished 3rd in MVP voting. He was the AL player of the month in July. He broke his own record for homeruns hit by a DH. He tied Babe Ruth's AL record for homeruns hit on the road with 32. He led the AL in the following categories:
Homeruns - 54
RBI - 137
Total Bases - 355
Runs Created - 146
At-Bats per HR - 10.3
Ortiz finished in the top 5 in the AL in Slugging, OPS, Runs, Extra-Basehits, Times on Base, Intentional Walks.
Ortiz was the best player on the Red Sox, and the best player in New England sports in 2006.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a man or woman whose lifetime work deserves recognition. The first BBS Lifetime Achievement Award goes to the late, great Red Auerbach.
Red's resume is well known, but it deserves repetition. Nine NBA Championships as a coach, including eight in a row. He led the Celtics to 10 Eastern Division titles. He was the first coach to reach 1,000 wins. He was named Coach of the Year in 1965, Executive of the Year in 1980, and Greatest Coach Ever in 1980. Red was a member of the Celtics organization for each one of their record 16 titles. He was the greatest coach in NBA history, the greatest executive in NBA history, the greatest coach in Boston sports history, the greatest executive in Boston sports history, and one of the greatest coaches or executives in the history of all of sports.
Now, the final Award. The Team of the Year Award goes to the team that was the most impressive, most excellent, and did the best at making you proud of New England sports in general. This was not an easy one to pick. The 4 major teams in New England all failed to win a championship. The Pats were eliminated in the 2nd round of the playoffs at the beginning of 2006, and God knows what they'll do in 2007. They were the only one of the major teams to make the post-season, but they did disappoint.
One less than major team did win a championship. The Portland SeaDogs won the Eastern League Championship. A few other teams came very close. BC Men's Hockey made it to the NCAA finals, losing 2-1 to Wisconsin. The New England Revolution made it to the MLS Cup, losing on penalty kicks. UMass made it to the D-IAA final, losing 28-17 to Appalachian State. Another team that had a good end of 2006 was UConn Men's basketball. They made it to the Elite Eight before being upset by George Mason. So far this season, they're 12-1 and ranked 18th in the country. But that record is not as good as it seems.
Since there is no obvious standout for Team of the Year, I've decided to use a process of elimination to narrow down the field.
The SeaDogs won the Eastern League Championship. But this is a AA championship. It isn't even the championship of all of AA. AA baseball has the sole purpose of developing talent, not determining which team is better than the other. Props to the SeaDogs for winning the Eastern League, but it isn't exactly a monumental achievement.
BC hockey came very close to winning a national title in the '05-'06 season. They fell 2-1 to Wisconsin (in Milwaukee, no less) in the final game. Although they came that close to taking the championship, their regular season was a bit of a disappointment. They were in position to win the Hockey East regular season title, but fells short, thanks in large part to a 3-6 loss to UMass-Lowell, a 3-3 tie with UNH and a 2-5 loss to UNH to end the season. Then in the Hockey East Tournament, they lost the championship game to Boston University. Speaking of BU, the Eagles also lost the Beanpot to their crosstown rivals. At the moment, the '06-'07 Eagles are tied for 2nd in Hockey East, but are very far behind 1st place Vermont. They're ranked 7th in the country. The lack of a trophy at the end of last season, coupled with good but not great results so far this season, and BC hockey doesn't merit Team of the Year.
UConn basketball was pretty damn good last season. They earned a 1 seed in the NCAA tourney, and had an impressive 30 win season, with only 4 defeats. Despite winning 31 games in the 2006 calendar year, and losing only 5, it is safe to say the end of the 05-06 season was disappointing for the Huskies. They lost to the Syracuse Orangemen in the Big East Tournament. Then they lost to George Mason in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies were more talented than both of these teams, but these losses cost them some silverware. Also, their 12-1 performance so far this season is far from mesmerizing. These are the teams they've beaten: Quinnipiac, Central Arkansas, Fairfield, Mississippi, Albany, Sacred Heart, Texas Southern, Northeastern, Saint Mary's, South Florida, and Pepperdine. And all of these games were played in Connecticut. Their one loss came on the road against unranked West Virginia. UConn's lack of big end of season victories, as well as their lack of strong opponents this season eliminates them as contenders for Team of the Year.
So who is left? UMass football and the New England Revolution. The Revs finished 2nd in the MLS Eastern Conference, beat Chicago in the 1st round of the playoffs, then beat DC United to win the Conference. They lost to Houston on PKs in a closely fought game. UMass also lost a hard fought championship game. UMass also won the Atlantic 10 title, going undefeated in the conference (I think the last time that was accomplished was in 1997). UMass lost only 2 games all year. They lost to Appalachian State in the championship, and to D-IA Navy in the regular season. They lost 21-20 to a D-IA team that went 9-4, and nearly beat Boston College in a bowl game.
Since UMass had such an impressive regular season, and since they were 2nd best among 122 D-IAA teams, and the Revs were 2nd best among 12 teams; and since UMass won a regular season title and had a very impressive year up to and including the playoffs...The University of Massachusetts Minutemen football team is the Boston Blood Sox New England Team of the Year for 2006.
So in summation:
Harry Frazee Award for Goat of the Year: Manny Ramirez, LF, Red Sox
Dan Shaughnessey Award for Worst Sports Writing: Dan Shaughnessey, Globe
Peyton Manning/Alex Rodriguez Award for Biggest Disappointment: Boston Red Sox
Award for Patriots Hottest Cheerleader: Ashleigh van Gerven
Doug Flutie Award for Best College Athlete: Craig Smith, F, BC basketball
Bobby Orr Award for Best Bruins Player: Patrice Bergeron, C
Bill Russell Award for Best Celtics Player: Paul Pierce, G-F
Drew Bledsoe Award for Best Patriots Player: Asante Samuel, CB
Ted Williams Award for Best Red Sox Player: David Ortiz, DH
Tom Brady Award for Biggest Surprise: Jonathan Papelbon, Closer, Red Sox
Bloody Sock Award: Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
Game of the Year: BC men's basketball vs. Villanova, March 24th, NCAA Regional Semi-Finals, Villanova 60, BC 59
Athlete of the Year: David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
Lifetime Achievement Award: Red Auerbach, coach/executive, Celtics
Team of the Year: UMass Minutemen football