Friday, April 24, 2009
Generic Sandwich Awards: Lee, Markakis, Uggla
You asked for them. You pined for them. You demanded them. So congratulations. Your hunger pangs are over.
It's time once again to salute the week that was, with the 2009 debut of our fabulous Generic Sandwich Awards:
STRIKE ONE -- THE MUNCHIES: Before we get into the, uh, meaty awards this week, chew on these nuggets:
• Ever heard of a Cy Young Award winner who lost as many games the next April as he'd lost in his whole Cy Young season? We hadn't either, until now. Last year, Cliff Lee went 22-3. This April, he's 1-3. He's the first reigning Cy Young-winning starter in history to lose as many games the next April as he'd lost the whole previous season. (Check the end of this blog for two disqualifications on technicalities.)
• Ryan Braun had a game Tuesday you'll almost never see: He went 5-for-5, with two homers and three infield singles. According to Baseball-Reference.com's amazing Play Index, no one else has had a game like that in the past 25 seasons.
• Our Name Game police report that Freddy Sanchez's home run Tuesday versus Anibal Sanchez was the first homer ever by a Sanchez off a Sanchez. And the legendarily inventive Bill Chuck reports that Micah Hoffpauir's homer off Micah Owings on Tuesday was the first all-Micah home run in big league history. You think Micah Bowie would be shocked by that bulletin?
STRIKE TWO -- THE ON-A-ROLL AWARD: We're sure there are still some people roaming around South Dakota who think Nick Markakis is that guy who runs the gyro shop downtown. But it's time the world figured out just who and what he is already.
Markakis is coming off another one of Those Weeks: He's 12-for-his-past-27, with 9 RBIs, 8 runs, 5 walks and a .531 on-base percentage. In case you hadn't noticed -- and apparently, you'd need to be eating a crab cake right now to notice -- the Orioles' mega-talented right fielder now leads the American League in RBIs (19), runs (18) and doubles (8). And he's in the top five in on-base percentage (.458), batting average (.387) and hits (24). He's also hitting .375 with men in scoring position. And he's reached base in every game this year. So if you're starting your all-star balloting early, remember the name.
"He's one of my favorite players," one scout said. "Here's a guy who could rest on his laurels [not to mention his new contract], but he's not. He's building his stature by getting even better. He's an all-star player for me." Absolutely. And for our Generic Sandwich Award panel, too.
STRIKE THREE -- THE COLD CUTS AWARD: The bad news for Florida's Dan Uggla is that he's an official Cold Cuts Award winner now, after a rough, rough week. He went 1-for-25 with eight strikeouts over the past seven days. And he's in the middle of his first-ever 0-for-his-past-21 funk as we type this.
The good news is, at least Uggla is still going better than he went last July 15, when his evening of All-Star Game glory turned into a three-error, three-whiff game, with a rally-crushing double-play ball thrown in there just to add to the misery.
Uggla's official quote on his messy week, delivered to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo: "That's baseball." Yep, that's baseball, all right. Some weeks you're an all-star. Some weeks you're collecting a Cold Cuts Award.
CLIFF LEE ADDENDUM DEPARTMENT: We know we're going to hear from the technicality-lovers in our audience on that Cliff Lee note. So let's address the two pertinent asterisks now, before you start e-mailing:
• If we'd included relievers in that research, Dennis Eckersley also would have qualified. He went 7-1 as the 1992 Cy winner -- but remember, he did that in relief -- and then he lost a game the next April. But we said Lee was the first Cy Young-winning starter ever to lose as many games the following April as he lost the year before. So Eck doesn't count.
• Then there's Rick Sutcliffe, who lost two games for the Cubs in April 1985. And yes, that was one more than he'd lost for the Cubs the previous year, when he spun off an amazing 16-1 run after getting traded to Wrigleyville in June. But he actually lost five games all season if you count his two months in Cleveland. So let's recall again how we worded this note. We said Cliff Lee was the first Cy Young-winning starter to lose as many games in April as he'd lost the whole previous season. And friends, that's what he did. We looked it up ourselves. And took way more time to do it than any sane human being would have, too, by the way.
SHAMELESS BOOK PLUG DEPARTMENT: This weekend's book signings for "Worth The Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies:" Friday (April 24) from 7-9 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Saturday (April 25) from 1-3 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Valley Forge, Pa. You can find a complete list of "Worth The Wait" signings here.