Gold Glove, Gold Smhlove

The 2009 Gold Gloves have been awarded.  As a young boy, I always rooted for my favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr, lock; Jay Buhner, one!; Edgar Martinez, fat chance) to win.  Today, I know that this award is decided by a process dramatized below:

Manager: “Hey Jim, time to fill out those flippin’ gold glove ballots.”

Jim: “Oh yeah?”

Manager: “Hmm.  Shortstop.  Who made some good plays against us this year?”

Jim: “That Jeter had a good season.  Battin’ leadoff, too.”

Manager: “Yeah, he did.  I remember that one grab he made against us in June.  Good play.”

Jim: “Yup.”

Manager: “Okey doke.” [checks box]

Now, by contrast, I provide a dramatization of how the Gold Gloves could be decided:

Manager: “Hey Jim, time to fill out those flippin’ gold glove ballots.”

Jim: “Oh yeah?”

Manager: “Hmm.  Outfield.  What outfielder made more plays against us than most other outfielders?  Who didn’t make many errors, took good routes to balls, covered more ground, threw strongly and accurately, and generally decreased the number of runs the average pitcher gave up by playing in the field?”

Jim: “That Franklin Guiterrez had a good season.”

Manager: “Yeah, he did.  I remember that one grab he made against us in June.  Good play.”

Jim: “Yup.”

Manager: “Okey doke.” [checks box]

Now, I present to you my league-winning fantasy baseball team for 2009 the Gold Glove teams from each league:

National League:
C  Yadier Molina (playoffs)
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Orlando Hudson (playoffs)
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Jimmy Rollins (playoffs)
OF Shane Victorino (playofs)
OF Michael Bourn
OF Matt Kemp (playoffs)

American League:
C  Joe Mauer (playoffs)
1B Mark Teixeria (playoffs)
2B Placido Polanco
3B Evan Longoria
SS Derek Jeter (playoffs)
OF Torii Hunter (playoffs)
OF Adam Jones
OF Ichiro

What a coincidence that the game’s best offensive players are also the best defensive players, and a majority of them played for teams that made the playoffs.  Such well-rounded athletes!

What’s that, espn? Aces are important?

ESPN’s position as vanguard of in-depth baseball analysis continues with their latest gem: a top-10 list of players who are important in this upcoming World Series.

Baseball’s tea leaves being more subtle and multilayered than other professional sports, ESPN did not leave this important piece of prophecy to one writer. No, this gem of a post was composed by “many of ESPN’s baseball writers, analysts and contributors.”  Some of the key points:

  • Important player #1: Cliff Lee.  Reason: “Lee is the Phillies’ Game 1 starter; he would also likely start Game 5.”
  • Important player #2: CC Sabathia.  Reason: “Sabathia will start Game 1 for the Yankees and could start Games 4 and 7 if Joe Girardi chooses to [start him].”

Other important players ESPN wants the world to keep an eye on: Alex Rodriguez!  Ryan Howard!  And wait, Mariano Rivera!?!?

Thank you, ESPN, for reminding us that the most important players in this World Series are the best players on each team, particularly the ones who will play the most.  We had not considered this.

Perhaps ESPN is trying to educate those people who will confused the World Series with the World Series of Poker, and want to know who the Phil Iveys and Phil Hellmuths are.  Covering the top end so thoroughly, I thought I’d identify the bottom 5 least-important players to this World Series.   Note that the World Series rosters have not been released yet, but ESPN didn’t wait for them, so neither are we.

All Swings Considered asked many of its baseball writers, analysts and contributors who were on gchat at the moment to rank the players. Here are the results:

  1. Jerry Hairston Jr, bench, Yankees.  Why is he not important? He probably won’t play, unless Girardi decides to play him (<– analysis!).
  2. Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees.  Why is he not important? He’s the third catcher on the roster, probably.  And Girardi wouldn’t even use #2 catcher Jose Molina if Burnett wasn’t such a head case and baseball didn’t have its One Catching Molina Per Postseason Series rule.
  3. Mike Harkey, bullpen coach, Yankees.  Why is he not important? If at all possible, the Yankees will use only Mariano Rivera out of the bullpen.  Rivera does not need a bullpen coach.  If the Yankees are forced to use other relievers, Mike Harkey is not going to help.  Which brings us to:
  4. The Rest of the Yankees bullpen.  Why are they not important? The Yankees spent $1.073 billion dollars on 9 players, and none of them pitch in the bullpen.
  5. The Easter Bunny.  Why is he not important? Baseball prostituting itself to television contracts, combined with bad weather, mean there is only a 15% chance that the World Series lasts until next Easter.

Honorable mention: Kenji Johjima, Lynn Cheney, Roosevelt’s Face On Mount Rushmore.