Did you watch the ESPY’s yesterday? Yeah, me neither. Sorry, I have better things to do than watch a bunch of athletes dress nice and split hairs determining which player, coach, moment and team is just a tad bit more popular than the rest.
And thank god I didn’t have to see Brian Wilson and his more-attractive “date.”
Anyway, here at Three Up, Three Down, we watch a lot of sports. I mean…a LOT. But for all the football, basketball, hockey and soccer games we’ve taken in over the years, our baby is baseball.
So here’s my try at re-awarding every ESPY award that had baseball involved in it:
1. Best Male Athlete
MLB contender: Justin Verlander
ESPY winner: LeBron James
I love JV, but the voters got it right on this one. The other nominees for this award were Novak Djokovic and Aaron Rodgers. All four are incredible athletes and dominated their respective sports. But there is no human specimen on this planet more physically capable and immensely talented than LeBron. I truly believe LeBron could have been a power-hitting outfielder, Serena Williams clone (both in looks and tennis court presence…sorry, had to do it) or star tight end. I can’t say that any of the other three could make it in the other sports.
Jeremy’s winner: LeBron James
2. Best Championship Performance
MLB contender: David Freese
ESPY winner: LeBron James
It’s hard to argue against the voters again. But this category is definitely much more difficult. The other nominees were Eli Manning, Tony Stewart and Jonathan Quick. Because Manning had so many teammates making clutch plays around him, I’m going to back off on giving it to him. Stewart is a NASCAR driver; ’nuff said. Quick was absolutely incredible tending net for the Los Angeles Kings, but again it’s a sport where individual dominance seems more aided by your teammates than most. James and Freese both came through in hugely pressurized situation, but James did it against worse competition (by that I mean, he is so head and shoulders above other players that he SHOULD win, whereas Freese is a huge underdog). With that said, the St. Louis boy and his huge World Series performance get my vote. Perhaps the fact that the World Series occurred over 8 months ago played a role here?
Jeremy’s winner: David Freese
3. Best Record-Breaking Performance
MLB contender: Mariano Rivera
ESPY winner: Drew Brees
Okay, I get it. Brees threw for a billion yards. Very impressive, considering he had one of the most prolific offenses in recent memory around him. *Rolls eyes* Just kidding – I love Brees. But, there is no way he should have beaten out Rivera for this award. That being said, Coach K’s wins milestone is a very tough nomination (Lexi Thompson was the fourth and final nominee) to beat. Coaching is an underrated challenge, but nothing tops coming into a game in the ninth inning to secure a win in front of 40,000 people. Rivera should have gotten more respect here, and in turn, the ESPY.
Jeremy’s winner: Mariano Rivera
4. Best Game
MLB contender: Rangers vs. Cardinals, Game 6
ESPY winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs
I’m going to catch some heat for this. I will never forget game six. It was one of the most epic moments of my entire life as a sports fan, and I was just watching with a beer in hand and dogs at feet. I ran around the house yelling and cheering, because (as Jack Buck so aptly announced) I couldn’t believe what I just saw. BUT, I’m a 49ers fan, and our fan base was hurting for some success after finally returning to the playoffs. And with all the doubt placed on Alex Smith over the years, his throw at the end of that game made him a local hero – I’m sticking with the Red and Gold here. Please direct all hate mail to email@example.com.
Jeremy’s winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs
5. Best Moment
MLB contenders: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit OR MLB season ends with dramatic final night
ESPY winner: Tebow to Thomas, sudden death TD
This is a freakin’ travesty. There’s no other way to put it. And it just makes me hate Tim Tebow. I know it’s not Tebow’s fault that football is now more popular than baseball in our country, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Derek Jeter is one of the all-time legendary athletes, not just baseball players, in American sports history. Achieving his 3,000th hit solidified his already-being-cleared-and-buffed spot in Cooperstown. Not okay, voters. Not okay. Oh, and Bubba Watson was another nominee or whatever.
Jeremy’s winner: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit
6. Best Comeback Athlete
MLB contender: Johan Santana
ESPY winner: Matthew Stafford
What? Seriously? Football rules again. The other two nominees didn’t stand a chance (Maria Sharapova and Sidney Crosby – wow, there really was a shortage of good comeback stories, huh?), but Santana got snubbed. Both players came back from injury to have big seasons, but Stafford had the difficult role of dropping back and throwing a football in the general vicinity of Calvin Johnson. Santana had his arm ripped apart, repaired and stitched up. Upon returning, he no-hit one of the best offenses in baseball. Is there really an argument here?
Jeremy’s winner: Johan Santana
7. Best MLB Player
ESPY winner: Josh Hamilton
This is the Big Kahuna. I’m sure it was difficult enough to narrow this category down to five guys, but the committee went with Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Braun and Justin Verlander. I’m hard pressed to say they were wrong, as much as my Dodger blue-bleedin’ heart wants to. Hamilton has been the best player in baseball at various points of the last few seasons. The only argument I feel could be legitimately made if we narrow it all the way down, is for Verlander. All of the other guys have great cases, but JV won the Cy Young AND MVP. It’s hard to top that. I’m okay with the selection of Hamilton though. Kid deserves all the respect in the world.
Jeremy’s winner: Josh Hamilton
8. Best Male College Athlete
NCAAB contender: Mike Zunino, Florida
ESPY winner: Robert Griffin III
It’s laughable that they even included Zunino and fellow nominee Jack Connolly (Minnesota-Duluth hockey player) in this category. Nobody watches college baseball OR hockey, so it was just to look like they cared. Well played, ESPN. The real competition was between Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Anthony Davis. Though I could have seen the unibrow or first overall NFL draft selection take it home, I’m not the least bit surprised it was Griffin III. He won the Heisman Trophy, the most prolific of college athletic awards, and led a team far less talented than Stanford football or Kentucky basketball to a huge season.
Jeremy’s winner: Robert Griffin III
9. Best Team of the Year
MLB contender: St. Louis Cardinals
ESPY winner: Miami Heat
The Cardinals were an awesome, incredible, inspiring team in 2011. Unfortunately, the voters got it right again. If this was Best Comeback or Best Cinderella Story or Most Likeable Team to Win a 2011 Championship, the Cards would likely win. But they had no chance in a category including the following nominees: Alabama football, Baylor women’s basketball, Kentucky men’s basketball, Los Angeles Kings, Miami Heat, and New York Giants. The real contenders here were Kentucky, the Heat and the Giants. But I think voters recognized that Kentucky can’t compete with the other two at the college level, and that if you take into account the consistency of dominance over the course of a season – it was always going to be the Heat. As it should have been.
Jeremy’s winner: Miami Heat
Don’t forget to comment below if you disagree! Give me your winners and what you think of the ESPY’s. Follow Three Up, Three Down @3u3d and LIKE us on Facebook.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Yesterday, I gave you my projected A.L. All-Star roster that can be found down below this post. Today with the final voting update being released for the National League, let’s see if I can figure out what the N.L. roster will look like. I’m really glad that Tony LaRussa retired and has a ton of time on his hands to figure out the roster, because this thing is pretty tough. Especially trying to put a Padres representative on the team.
Starter: Buster Posey, Giants
Reserves: Yadier Molina, Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
This will be a close battle all the way to the end as Molina may still end up starting the game. Posey could be in danger of not making the game if not named the starter as Molina and Ruiz are the two clear-cut top catchers this season. LaRussa could decide that two catchers are enough and go with an extra back-up somewhere else.
Starter: Joey Votto, Reds
Reserve: Martin Prado, Braves
This is where I had to get creative. No offensive position has gone without a backup since Derrek Lee in 2005 for the N.L. In that game, Morgan Ensberg who was designated as a 3B moved over to replace Lee in the game. In 2002, Alfonso Soriano was the only 2B for the American League and Omar Vizquel switched over from SS to play 2B. There is precedent to not have a backup 1B and I don’t think there should be. The only one I can make a case for is the Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be bad if he becomes Arizona’s lone representative over a deserving Wade Miley. Prado is a versatile player that plays outfield, third base, and first base for the Braves. He’s a deserving All-Star, but N.L. outfield is so deep (we’ll get to that soon) that this is a way to get Prado on the team. I’m still figuring out why there are 873,526 wasted votes on Ryan Howard who hasn’t played this season.
Starter: Dan Uggla, Braves
Reserve: Jose Altuve, Astros
Uggla has fallen off hitting just .179 in the month of June, but Braves fans have continued to vote for him. He has a healthy lead on Brandon Phillips going into the final stage of voting. Altuve has been a find for the Astros hitting over .300 and being 5th in the league in hits. Phillips gets bumped to the Final Vote as the only infielder represented.
Starter: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
Reserve: Starlin Castro, Cubs
The injury woes of Troy Tulowitzki will allow Furcal to make his 3rd All-Star team in 13 seasons and it’s deserved. Furcal looked done after last season, but has bounced back to hit .287 and be solid atop the Cardinals lineup. Castro is the Cubs lone representative for the 2nd straight year. Pretty impressive for a 22 year-old.
Starter: David Wright, Mets
Reserves: Chipper Jones, Braves and David Freese, Cardinals
I’ve made it clear previously that I think that Chipper Jones should be starting the All-Star Game in his final season. Here’s my solution. The National League will need a designated hitter, so who better than Chipper Jones? He could have his moment like Cal Ripken did in 2001 and David Wright still gets to start at 3B like he deserves. I’m sure Chipper’s knees would also appreciate not having to play the field. Freese has been solid for the Cardinals as he’s top 10 in the league in HR’s and RBI. I’m sure LaRussa will bring him along after his postseason heroics in 2011.
Starters: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, and Ryan Braun, Brewers
Reserves: Melky Cabrera, Giants, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers
This is by far the deepest position in all of the Majors. Not making the team includes Michael Bourn, Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence who have all been fantastic. Mike Trout was able to make my A.L. squad, but the deepness at the position here blocks Bryce Harper from making the initial squad at 19 years old. There is still a tight battle for the final starting spot between Braun and Cabrera, but both will make the team. Gonzalez and Stanton are being snubbed by voters, but will be the solo representatives for the Rockies and Marlins respectively. Ethier sneaks in the final outfield spot as he’s helped keep the Dodgers afloat in Matt Kemp’s absence. Kemp’s injury will hopefully open up an extra spot for Bourn, Holliday, or Pence.
Starter: R.A. Dickey, Mets
Reserves: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, Wade Miley, Diamondbacks, Johnny Cueto, Reds, James McDonald, Pirates, Lance Lynn, Cardinals, Chris Capuano, Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
The battle to be the starting pitcher couldn’t be any closer between Dickey, Strasburg, and Cain. I just think that Dickey is such a wonderful story that it would be amazing to have him start the game, so I gave him the edge. My American League roster had eight starters, but there are so many options in the N.L. that I upped it to ten. Even that wasn’t enough as Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke get snubbed. I believe that LaRussa will err on the side of the Cardinals and take Lance Lynn for the last pitching spot. Wade Miley is rightfully Arizona’s only representative.
Reserves: Craig Kimbrel, Braves, Aroldis Chapman, Reds, and Huston Street, Padres
Kimbrel has been lights out all season. Chapman had been perfect up until recently, but they are the two fireballers that the senior circuit needs to close out the game. Street goes to the game because I couldn’t figure out another way to get a Padre on the roster. I couldn’t have Carlos Quentin take a spot from one of the outfielders, Chase Headley over David Freese, or have Yonder Alonso be the back-up 1B. Street missed time with an injury, but has a 1.50 ERA and 0.78 ERA when healthy this season.
Michael Bourn, Braves, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Brandon Phillips, Reds, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Bryce Harper, Nationals
When I originally wrote out my roster Harper making the Final Vote didn’t even cross my mind. Then I had an epiphany, there is no way MLB doesn’t put Harper in, just to stir up some excitement for it. There are great voting fan bases represented in this final vote and I sadly couldn’t put in Zack Greinke. Greinke and Hamels will hopefully make the team on the “pitcher pitching Sunday” rule. Bourn has been wonderful leading off the Braves lineup and is among the league leaders in WAR. Brandon Phillips might make the All-Star game as a starter still, but him being in the Final Vote let’s him use his social media skills to the fullest.
Dodgers and Braves-4
Giants and Reds-3
Mets, Nationals, and Pirates-2
Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, and Marlins-1
Unlike the American League, I feel like there are a ton of snubs on my National League team. Joel Hanrahan, Tyler Clippard, Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinke, Hunter Pence, Ryan Vogelsong, and Jed Lowrie just to name a few. Who would make your National League roster? Let me know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)