Thursday, January 02, 2014

BBS Awards: Red Auerbach Award for Best Coach/Executive

This award goes to the person off the field whose decisions and influence resulted in the most success on the field.

There were lots of great coaches and GMs in Boston this year. Obviously with a World Series winning team you have to consider Ben Cherington and John Farrell. With the Bruins going deep in the playoffs you must give Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli some thought. With the Patriots doing well despite injuries, Bill Belichick deserves consideration. And Brad Stevens has gotten 110% from the Celtics.

But I think only one person had the most work to do, yet still reached the maximum level of success. He had to rebuild a broken team.

The winner of the Red Auerbach award for 2013 is Ben Cherington, GM of the Boston Red Sox.

The other guys I mentioned have all done great jobs. However none of their jobs were as difficult as Cherington's. Cherington had a blank team. There were no stud free agents available to bring in. As Cherington put together his team of decent, experienced players, I remember talking to my brother about how the Red Sox were "buying second place." I thought the Sox were trying to build an 85 win team, compete for a Wild Card spot, and keep the fans' hunger satisfied with snacks instead of a full course meal.

How wrong I was.

Ben Cherington took a last place team and gave it a chance. He added the right mix of veterans, leaders, followers, and solid ballplayers. And the team won.

BBS Awards: Game of the Year

This award goes to the most memorable, thrilling, important game in Boston sports in 2013. And this year had no shortage of great games. Obviously there was the Red Sox World Series run, and the Bruins went deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. But one game stands apart for its drama, its impact, its thrill-factor, and its lasting imagery. It's a game that all I have to do is post one picture, and you'll know which game I'm talking about...

Game 2 of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.

Detroit had a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the 8th. There were 2 outs and the bases were loaded for David Ortiz.

He hit a Grand Slam that none of us will ever forget.

And in the 9th Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a single to left to win the game.

The game not only had excitement and memorable imagery, it had impact. The Tigers were 4 outs away from going up 2-0 in the series, sweeping two games in Fenway. Who knows how the series would have gone had the Tigers taken such a commanding lead.

Instead, David Ortiz tied the game and the Sox tied the series. They won 2 of 3 in Detroit, then clinched the series in Fenway.

And the rest is history.

2013 BBS Awards: Bloody Sock Award for Toughness

This award goes to a tough athlete, one who has come back from injury, or played through injury, or some other kind of adversity, and sometimes a life threatening illness. Previous winners include Jon Lester, Wes Welker, and Mark Herzlich.

This year the winner is Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins.

Bergeron played the toughest games in the toughest sport (Stanley Cup Finals) with a broken rib, torn cartilage, and a separated shoulder. That broken rib would eventually puncture a lung. This award and this blog are named after Curt Schilling's bloody red socks from the 2004 playoffs, and Bergeron's injuries were much more severe. Maybe I'll rename the blog to Bergeron's Ribs, or Boston Lung Punctures.

He made you proud to be a Boston sports fan. And even though the B's lost the series, they left everything on the ice.

2013 BBS Awards: Special Award to John Lackey for Being an Athlete We Hated then Becoming One We Liked

This is a special award. This doesn't happen very often. John Lackey won the award for 2011 Goat of the Year. We hated him. He was one of Beckett's fried chicken crew. And in 2013 he completely redeemed himself. He got in shape, he put in the effort, and it showed on the field. So congrats, John Lackey.

2013 BBS Awards: Tom Brady Award for Biggest Surprise Out of Nowhere

This award goes to the athlete who performed in an outstanding fashion in 2013, even though we barely knew who he was, or at least had no idea he could play so well. Previous winners include Brad Marchand, Danny Woodhead, and Hideki Okajima.

The winner this year is Koji Uehara of the Boston Red Sox.

Honorable mention to Torey Krug of the Bruins, Shane Vereen of the Patriots, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, and John Lackey.

Uehara came out of nowhere. The Red Sox were in need of a closer, and he took the job. And he did so with style. In 74.1 innings he struck out 101 batters. He only walked 9. He converted 21 saves, 13 holds, and only blew 3 saves. His WHIP was 0.57. He finished 7th in Cy Young voting and won the ALCS MVP.

My favorite stat is that 74% of his pitches were strikes. He faced 265 batters, and only threw 274 balls, or about 1 ball per plate appearance, and only 3.7 balls per inning pitched. He just threw strikes.

Strikes and high fives.

2013 BBS Awards: Ted Williams Award for Red Sox Player of the Year

This award goes to the best player from the 2013 Boston Red Sox season. And what a season to look back on and remember.

The winner of this award is someone who in 2013 rallied both the team and the City.

The winner of the Ted Williams award is David Ortiz.

Honorable mentions to Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Koji Uehara.

Ortiz led the team in batting average (.309), homeruns (30), RBI (103), OBP (.393), SLG (.594), and OPS (.959). He was third on the team in runs (84), third in hits (160), and third in doubles (38). And that was just the regular season.

In the playoffs, he led the team with a .353 average, hit 5 homeruns, knocked in 13 RBI, got on base 50% of the time, slugged .706. All those numbers led the Red Sox. He scored the second most runs (12), and had the second most hits (18).

In an amazing year for an amazing team, he was the most amazing player.

2013 BBS Awards: Drew Bledsoe Award for Patriots Player of the Year

This award goes to the best player on the Patriots. Because these awards are for the calendar year, we can consider last year's playoffs. But not this year's.

There were a few players who warranted consideration for this award. The winner is someone whose production was a surprise, and was also much needed.

The winner is Julian Edelman.

Honorable mentions to Logan Mankins and Aqib Talib. And Tom Brady, of course.

Julian Edelman became only the third Patriot in team history to catch over 100 passes, hauling in 105. He amassed 1,056 receiving yards, scored 6 touchdowns, averaged 10.1 yards per catch, never fumbled, and averaged 10.7 yards per punt return.

And the Patriots needed him to do all this. Rob Gronkowski only played a few games. Danny Amendola was in and out of the lineup. Same with Shane Vereen. Stevan Ridley was unreliable at times. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins were never dependable. Edelman stepped up and became Brady's most reliable weapon.

His 1,056 yards accounted for 24.3% of the team's total receiving yards. His 105 catches accounted for 27.6% of Brady's completions. Brady targeted Edelman 151 times, which was 24% of Brady's throws.

Even when Gronk was back in the lineup, Edelman was still a major part of the offense, Two of Edelman's four 100 yard games were when Gronkowski was active, along with 3 of his 6 TDs.

Edelman saved the offense.

2013 BBS Awards: Bobby Orr Award for Bruins Player of the Year

This award is pretty simple. It's given to the best Boston Bruin of the calendar year. Past winners include Tim Thomas, Marc Savard, Phil Kessel, and Patrice Bergeron.

It's a tough decision this year. There are three players that deserve serious consideration: Bergeron, Chara, and Rask. Bergeron is a great all around player, and his toughness exemplifies what Boston Bruins hockey is all about. Chara is having a great offensive season so far and he was very good for most of last season's playoffs. Rask was great for most of the playoffs, and he's been great this season (5th in GAA, 4th in SV%, 3rd in wins).

I'm going to give the award to...

Zdeno Chara.

And here's why: He's asked to do everything for this team. He plays close to half the game, plays defense against the opponent's top lines, plays the penalty kill, plays the power play, and he's a part-time enforcer.

This season he's scored 9 goals, tied for 5th on the team. His 6 power play goals lead the team.

And don't forget that he's the captain.

So while Rask and Bergeron also deserved this award, I think Chara deserved it just a little bit more, for all he's asked to do, and for all he does.

2013 BBS Awards: Bill Russell Award for Celtics Player of the Year

This award goes to the best Celtics player in the calendar year. Which is tough because Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo only played for half the calendar year. And who is left on the Celtics now? Jared Sullinger? Avery Bradley?

So this award is going to Rondo or Pierce or Garnett. Even though they've made no contributions to the 2013-14 season. But which one?

The winner is Paul Pierce.

It's more by default than anything else. Rondo didn't play in the series against the Knicks. Garnett played, but not very well. Pierce averaged 19.2 points in that series, along with 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. This is the third time Pierce has won this award, and most likely the last. That's kind of sad.

2013 BBS Awards: Doug Flutie Award for College Athlete of the Year

This award goes to the best college athlete in New England in the calendar year of 2013. This award also considers the size and scope of the sport. So while there are world class fencers, rowers, and gymnasts going to school in Boston and New England, the college sports that draw massive attention carry more weight in this award. The bigger the stage, the more likely an athlete will be considered.

There's really only one person this could go to. And it's Boston College running back Andre Williams.

Williams was nominated for the Heisman Trophy, he won the Doak Walker award for best RB in the country, was a unanimous All-American, unanimous All-ACC, and he set school and ACC records for rushing yards in a season with 2,102. So yeah, the best college athlete in New England. Without a doubt.

Give an honorable mention to BC hockey forward Johnny Gaudreau, UMass-Lowell goalie Connor Hellebuyck, Chaz Williams and Cady Lalanne from UMass basketball, and UConn basketball's Shabazz Napier.

2013 BBS Awards: Varitek Award for Most Overrated Athlete

This goes to the athlete whose actual production paled in comparison to the hype that surrounded him. It's named after Jason Varitek because in his later years, people gave him way too much credit for what he actually did on the field. This award shouldn't be looked on as a criticism of its recipient, but of the fans and media who praised him too much.

This year I can only think of one athlete who deserves this award. It's more because of the attention he got outweighing his contributions. It's Tim Tebow.

Tebow was the biggest story of the Patriots off-season up until Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder. And as a former college teammate, Tebow managed to become part of that story too. He was the biggest draw at training camp. Tebow jerseys and shirts were everywhere.

He then struggled in the pre-season games. "Struggled" is actually a kind way to put it. He was awful. And nobody, except the most blindly faithful Tebowists out there, was shocked when the Patriots cut him.

And now he has a job at ESPN. And good for him. He seems like a nice guy. Especially in a sport that features murderers, rapists, wife-beaters, dog fighters, gangsters, and douchebags of all kinds.

And working at ESPN is perfect for him. He's already loved and adored by many people there. He's already smarter (and has a more accurate assessment of himself) than pundits like Skip Bayless.

2013 BBS Awards: A-Rod Award for Biggest Choker

This award, named after Alex Rodriguez, goes to the athlete or team or group of athletes that failed to do their job when it mattered most.

The "winner" of the A-Rod Award for the year 2013 is Tyler Seguin.

Seguin was also named the year's biggest goat. So this is a banner year for someone who doesn't even play in Boston anymore.

What Seguin did to earn this distinction was what he didn't do in the playoffs: score. 22 games, 1 goal, 7 assists, -3. He didn't even get shots on net. In the last three games against the Blackhawks, which the Bruins lost, he only managed to get 3 shots to the goalie. 70 total shots in 22 games, or 3.2 per game.

The B's didn't need Seguin to be Crosby and carry them through a series. They just needed some offense from him. Just a handful of goals. Or assists. Or shots. That's the one thing he was asked to do for the team.

And let's give Brad Marchand a dishonorable mention because he vanished in the Finals as well (10 shots in 6 games). Marchand showed up in the earlier rounds (4 goals, 9 assists, +4 in the playoffs overall), unlike Seguin, which is why Seguin "wins" the award.

I don't miss him. He's doing well in Dallas (19 goals, 18 assists, +12), on a team that's winning but currently sits on the outside of the playoff standings. Good for him. I don't care. Good riddance.

2013 BBS Awards: Dan Shaughnessy Award for Most Irritating Sports Media Personality

This award once went to the worst sportswriter. But that term is too limited. Not many sportswriters are just sportswriters anymore. Past "winners" of this award include Ron Borges, Tony Massarotti, and Dan Shaughnessy himself. This year we have two "winners." And I'm surprised that I haven't even considered them for this award in the past.

The "winners" of the Dan Shaughnessy "Shank" Award are John Dennis and Gerry Callahan of WEEI's Dennis and Callahan.

You might not know who these two are. And judging by their dwindling listening audience, many of you don't. Dennis and Callahan rarely talk about sports on their morning show. They'll rant about politics or discuss who won the Oscars or talk about the latest episode of whatever TV show they've become obsessed with.

And when they do talk about sports, they never let lack of knowledge or insight stand in the way of making opinions. And these aren't interesting, contrarian opinions like you'd get from Michael Felger. These are just stupid.

They suck up to athletes who appear on their show. Most notably Tom Brady. They criticize everyone else but will never EVER say a negative word about any of the athletes who give them the time of day.

So they're annoying, stupid, generally wrong, biased, offensive, and arrogant. They've alienated women, liberals, moderates, conservatives (such as myself), and people who like sports talk. They suck. Worst sports radio show on the major stations, and that's saying something.

2013 BBS Awards: Harry Frazee Award for Goat of the Year

I didn't do the Boston Blood Sox Awards last year. But they're back for 2013.

The Harry Frazee Award (named in dishonor of the man who sold Babe Ruth and a number of other great players to the Yankees) goes to the biggest "goat" of the season. This is someone who disappointed on the field/court/ice, didn't seem to put in the maximum effort, and was capable of doing much better. John Lackey won for 2011, for example. Randy Moss in 2010.

The "winner" of the award this year is Tyler Seguin, formerly of the Boston Bruins.

Seguin was great at partying. And that's fine. Rob Gronkowski is the best partier in New England, but he performs on the field. Seguin didn't perform on the ice. And the partying came before performance for him. The Bruins had to post a guard at his hotel room door to ensure Seguin wasn't clubbing during the Stanley Cup Finals. And upon arriving in Dallas and being asked about being part of a young team, all Seguin could talk about was how happy he was that he'd have single teammates to hang out with.

He's doing well in Dallas, but he never reached his potential in Boston. Especially in last season's playoffs.