(Image Credit Peanuts.com)
Back in 2012 I first invoked the name here of one Joe Shlabotnik.
For the uninitiated Joe is a fictional baseball player who is Charlie Brown’s favorite.
This year I’ve decided to give out an Award to a Major League Baseball team, player, situation, etc. best reflecting the “achievements” of Joe Shlabotnik. Some of which I highlight below:
- Joe was demoted to the minors after hitting .004 over an entire season. The one hit was a bloop single…with his team comfortably ahead.
- Joe once promised to hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth. He popped out…but circled the bases anyway.
- Joe had a unique knack for making routine flies into spectacular catches as well as throwing out base runners…that had fallen between first and second.
- Joe retired as an active player and took a job managing the Waffletown Syrups. He was fired after one game for calling a squeeze play…with no one on.
Charlie Brown never has gotten to meet his hero Joe Shlabotnik. He was supposed to meet Joe at a sports banquet where kids met their idols but Joe had unfortunately marked the day, city…and even the event…incorrectly on his calendar. And when Joe was invited to a testimonial dinner for Charlie Brown…he got lost on the way there.
Every year in Major League Baseball someone or something screws up badly. Without further delay let me introduce my three finalists for the 2015 Shlabotnik…
The Philadelphia Phillies. They are on the verge of achieving 100 losses. This would be Philadelphia’s first 100-loss campaign since 1961. Keep in mind the Phils are still the ONLY franchise in American sports with more than 10,000 losses…so it is unusual they’ve only had fourteen seasons with that many defeats. They can’t even get to the century mark consistently. In any event you have a squad this season that collectively has certainly been a roster full of…Joes. Enough said.
The Washington Nationals. An organization melting down like the candle you once left burning and almost burnt your house down. Entering the season as a favorite for the World Series your lasting image of the Nationals from this year will be their closer choking their MVP-candidate in their dugout. Interestingly the choker, closer Jonathan Papelbon, started the year with the above-mentioned star-crossed Phillies. After spending the entire season openly asking for a trade and then using the forum of a national press at the All-Star Game to completely humiliate the Phillies further (if that is even possible)…the Phillies found a taker for this human plague…the Nationals. Washington promptly demoted their effective incumbent closer Drew Storen to a set-up role…which apparently splintered their clubhouse (the Nationals were leading the NL East when Jonathan arrived)…their play plummeted and the curtain came down with Papelbon trying to strangle the life out of fan-favorite Bryce Harper because that’s just what Jonathan Papelbon does. Whatever the hell he feels like. On top of all this Manager Matt Williams inexplicably put Jonathan back in the game after his choke hold and Papelbon promptly choked away the game…to of all teams…the Phillies.
Oh. It was Fan Appreciation Day in Washington.
The Win-Or-Go-Home Wild Card Games. There is no topic that sends me screaming into the streets like this one. I will rant about it every year until it goes away and teams deemed to have made the post-season get to play in a series…like the whole freaking sport is set up for. These one-and-done Wild Card Games…yeah, let’s play 162 over half a year and then say four teams make the post-season…then eliminate two before game programs can be printed up. The fallout from these frantic four setting up their pitching rotations and then burning through their rosters just to win one game…then leaving themselves exposed going into an actual series a day or two later? Really? I don’t want to hear how well Wild Card teams have done because then you bring forth the even bigger question of bringing more and more teams into contention. Is there true importance in those six months of regular season or not? How true a Major League Baseball champion do you desire? Baseball purists let armored trucks carrying all that TV dough responsible for these atrocities run right over them. It would be my pleasure to serve as a run-over martyr if the end result was all teams that make the post-season get to experience it for more than a few hours. I’ll gladly trade the expanded number of teams as long as they get a chance to play a series…even a best-of-three. These all-or-nothing games are absurd and their very existence is a long fly ball against the wind carrying the spirit and soul of baseball itself.
All of the candidates are truly worthy but the winner of the 2015 Shlabotnik is The Win-Or-Go-Home Wild Card Games. I don’t know if anyone or anything can ever top them…but the best of luck to all teams entering post-season play regardless.
I’ll try not to blink and miss two of ya.