Friday, January 03, 2014

2013 BBS Awards: Team of the Year

This goes to the best team in Boston sports for the 2013 calendar year. And for the first time since the inception of the Boston Blood Sox Awards in 2006, this team will be honored by being named Team of the Year. The Patriots won this award in 2007. The Celtics won it in 2008. The Bruins in 2011...

And now in 2013, the winner of Team of the Year are the Boston Red Sox.

Expectations were low for the 2013 Red Sox. Simply finishing above .500 would have been considered progress.

The team was the most likable edition of the Sox since 2007. They were entertaining. They got big hits. They stole bases. They worked counts. They didn't like to lose. They hated losing. They didn't slump. They weren't satisfied with being above .500, or making the playoffs, or winning the division, or winning the AL. If there were another series after the World Series, the Red Sox would want to play, and would play to win.

After two of the most embarrassing seasons in recent Boston sports history in 2011 and 2012, the Red Sox redeemed themselves with one of the best years any Boston team has ever had.

2013 BBS Awards: Athlete of the Year

This award typically goes to the athlete that performed the best on the field/court/ice. Previous winners include David Ortiz, Tom Brady, and Wes Welker. This year there were plenty of strong candidates on the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Boston College. Not so much the Celtics. But in the City of Boston we saw other teams and other athletes doing amazing things. Things more impressive and more meaningful than throwing a football or hitting a baseball or shooting a puck. Things like carrying an injured person, things like pulling debris away, things like dodging bullets and explosives, things like running toward a hospital to give blood after running a marathon.

This award goes to all the men and women who responded and reacted to the Marathon Bombing, and all those who were involved in the aftermath, and the pursuit of the suspects.

So many people ran toward the explosions. Cops, paramedics, volunteers, runners, spectators. Their athletic exploits were truly meaningful. They were fast, they were strong, they were clutch. And the same goes for the cops who pursued the suspects. They worked on minimal sleep, when the pressure was on, and they got the job done.

All these people were the Athletes of the Year.

2013 BBS Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award

This award goes to someone who has distinguished themselves for more than a year, for more than a few years. It belongs to those who have built a career of achievement. People who you can't stop talking about what they've done. People you tell stories about. Previous winners include Red Auerbach, Jerry York, and Cam Neeley.

This year, this most coveted of awards goes to Pedro Martinez.

Pedro was the most dominant pitcher of his era, an era that was dominated by juiced balls and juiced hitters.

And speaking of PEDs, I think it's safe to say Pedro didn't use them. His muscle mass was too low, he was slow to recover from injury, and his performance deteriorated with age in a natural way.

In the year 2000, in the American League with DHs, off a 10 inch mound, when the league ERA was 4.91, Pedro challenged Bob Gibson's modern era single-season ERA record of 1.12. Pedro finished with a 1.74 ERA.

Pedro won 3 Cy Youngs, and he probably should have won more. He finished second in the 1998 AL voting to Roger Clemens. This is around the time that Clemens had begun to use PEDs. In 2002 Pedro went 20-4, led the AL with a 2.22 ERA, and 239 strikeouts, yet lost the Cy Young to Barry Zito. Zito had 3 more wins than Pedro.

Pedro was also robbed of an MVP Award in 1999, when he finished second in the voting to Ivan Rodriguez. Pedro actually got one more first place vote than I-Rod. He went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. But some voters thought a power hitting catcher was more valuable.

Pedro never threw a no-hitter. Technically. On June 3, 1995, pitching for the Expos he threw 9 perfect innings. But it was a 0-0 game after 9 so it went into extra innings. He gave up a hit in the 10th and was relieved. The Expos would win 1-0. He didn't even get credit for the 'W.'

In the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, Pedro stole the show from the steroid enhanced sluggers. Pedro struck out 5 of the 6 batters he faced: Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell. Those batters have a combined 2,222 career HRs, by the way.

He led his league in ERA 5 times, in complete games once in 1997, in strikeouts 3 times, in WHIP 6 times, in K/9 5 times, in K/BB 4 times. He was an 8-time All-Star, he has the 6th best win percentage of all-time, the 5th best WHIP of all-time, the 3rd best K/9 of all-time, the 13th most strikeouts, the 3rd best K/BB ratio of all-time.

He was a key part of the 2004 World Series winning Red Sox.

He was an idiot before the Red Sox were Idiots.

He threw at batters when he himself had to bat in the NL (yet another reason he's superior to Roger "shrunken attachments" Clemens).

The day he pitched was an event. It had anticipation to it. The ballpark had a buzz. The City had a buzz. Days Pedro pitched were the most coveted of Red Sox tickets. Before the 2004 World Series run, Pedro was the Red Sox.

I would argue that he's the best pitcher in Red Sox history. He's a certain Hall of Famer, and the number 45 should be immortalized on Fenway's right-field facade.

Bruins Show Up Late, Leave with Win

The Bruins are in the middle of two things: a bad rash of injuries, and a relatively easy part of their schedule. So when the last place Nashville Predators come to town, even if half your roster feels more at home in Providence, you still have to take advantage.

Just like last night's snowstorm, the Bruins started slow then poured it on stronger and stronger as the night went on. Johnny Boychuk fired a patented rocket past Mazanec in the 3rd. Then Jarome Iginla drove to the net like Shaq, outmuscling a defender for position on his way to his 13th goal of the season. And in overtime Brad Marchand self-pased the puck between the defensemen's legs to give himself space to score the game-winner.

Niklas Svedberg started in goal for the B's. This was his first career NHL game. He played solidly. Nashville isn't much of a test (5th fewest goals scored coming into last night's game). The Bruins need a backup goalie who can be put into the lineup often enough to keep Tuukka Rask fresh. And the Bruins need to at least have a chance to win those games. Maybe Svedberg can give them that chance in the future. Not right now though, since he's already been sent down to Providence.

The Bruins host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon. That's another bad team that the B's need to collect points against. Then the Bruins go on the road and play the top 3 teams in the Pacific division (Anaheim, LA, San Jose).

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa