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Rushin: The More The Merrier

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Walker “Ferris” Buehler and Shane “Not Justin” Bieber scored major creativity points— to go with their status as promising rookie righthanders—with the nicknames they chose for their jerseys during Players’ Weekend in August.

The greatest of all baseball awards is surely the Platinum Glove, presented by Rawlings to the best fielder in each league, and designed, it would seem, to make mere Gold Glovers feel inadequate. The same principle applies to the way the American Express platinum card shames lowly gold card-holders, or the Platinum status of some Delta frequent flyers belittles passengers with Gold or Silver bag tags. Delta has a higher status than Platinum even, called Diamond, and baseball ought to bestow a single trophy on its very best fielder, called a Diamond Glove. Likewise, let there be a Cy Younger—awarded to the better of the two Cy Young-winners— and an MVMVP, given to the More Valuable Most Valuable Player.

The trouble with baseball awards is there aren’t enough of them. The game ought to have its own Oscars, with a gold statuette in the form of Oscar Gamble, honoring all those people and moments that stood out in the season just past, with categories that include …

BEST PUNCHOUT

Astros closer Ken Giles gave up a home run to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, got the hook, and then reared back and punched himself in the face while walking to the dugout. He apparently never saw it coming.

BEST STANDUP TRIPLE

David Letterman mentioned on his Netflix series how Reds first baseman Joey Votto warmly greeted him in the stands at a game, after which Jerry Seinfeld said Votto did the very same thing to him, after which Seth Myers told of a similar greeting from Votto, but in an elevator.

BEST TIGHTY RIGHTY

During Players’ Weekend, when big leaguers choose the names that go on the back of their own jerseys, Giants outfielder Hunter Pence chose to wear his near-homonym: UNDERPANTS. In doing so, he narrowly defeated Indians righthander Shane Bieber, whose back read NOT JUSTIN, and Dodgers righty Walker Buehler, who went with FERRIS.

BEST FORM OF VIRTUAL REALITY

Players continue to play catch with children at games, bridging the otherwise unbridgeable gap between the field and stands, fantasy and reality, big leaguers and little leaguers. Wearing a glove to the bleachers has become, for many lucky kids, entering the wardrobe that leads to Narnia. Among the leading proponents of this 21st century trend is Astros bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte, who offers pointers on proper arm slot to his catch partners. For a sport that chooses to play its highest profile games in the lowest profile hours—see the next award—baseball has found one way, almost literally, to pull kids in.

BIGGEST OVERNIGHT SENSATION

Game 3 of the World Series went 18 innings, ended at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time, and required seven hours and twenty minutes to play. You can watch the first two installments of "The Godfather” films in that time and still make time for "60 Minutes.” You can fly from London to Casablanca and back in that time, and still have 40 minutes for dinner at Rick’s Cafe Americain. Chances are you did neither of these things, and slept instead.

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Bob Melvin Earns All A's, Wins Manager Of The Year

From platooning to bullpening, Bob Melvin is a leader for all the situations presented in Oakland.

BEST SHORT STORIES

In April, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman hit a weak pop-up in front of home plate that Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer overran. It dropped for a walk-off hit that gave Houston a 1-0 victory in 10 innings. In July, Bregman hit an even weaker ball that stopped five feet down the first-base line. Athletics catcher Jonathan Lucroy bobbled the ball and then threw wide to first base, giving the Astros another win, and Bregman two walk-off hits that traveled a combined 15 feet.

BEST LONG STORY

Rockies shortstop Trevor Story hit a home run in September that traveled 505 feet, the longest in the Statcast era. Never mind that the Statcast era dates back to 2015, or that Story wasn’t even the most fearsome slugger of 2018, a distinction that belongs to . . .

QUOTE OF THE YEAR

. . . a young man from Middletown, N.J., who introduced himself thusly (and virally) at the Little League World Series: "Hi, I’m Alfred Delia, at home they call me Big Al, and I hit dingers.”

MOST OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD

On the final day of the season, when David Wright played a few innings at third base for the Mets and Joe Mauer played a single inning behind the plate for the Twins, two one-team stars who began their stellar major league careers in 2004 suddenly turned into homing pigeons. Only one of them was playing catcher, but both men had—after many years away— come home.

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