Spring Training in Blog: The Envelope, Please

The Academy Awards are tonight, so here’s an Oscar themed Preview in Blog.

Best Editing – Sometimes, as an editor, less is more. And sometimes, less is all you have. In a long off-season, there are times when you’re bound to have nothing to say.

Best Sound Mixing – Best means loudest, right? Then this one goes to Tony Phillips in Seattle. Even though baseball has officially started again, the amount of news is still somewhat scarce. That leads to notes like this one about how Phillips has “the loudest laugh in all of baseball“.

Visual Effects – Mark Buerhle’s truck. The way they make it seem so ridiculously large is truly a stunning application of perspective and… wait, it’s really that big? Holy crap!

Costume Design – The Tampa Bay Rays. Not the first team you would think of when you think throwback night, the Rays are nonetheless finding a way to participate. It’s not by revisiting their “Devil” days, but rather by honoring an old senior league team, the St. Petersburg Pelicans.

Best Adapted Song – Aerosmith and Athletics Nation – Duke Looks Like a Maybe. Perfectly expresses the angst caused by filing the back end of your rotation with the likes of longtime reliever Justin Duchscherer.

Best Screenplay – Fransisco Rodriguez, for the script wherein he loses his arbitration hearing, but still gets $10 million. Yes, it’s a happy ending, but it has that twist that you just don’t always expect.

Documentary – Jacob’s Field, when it opened, enjoyed some fantastic baseball teams in a venue that pleased the fans, a combination that lead to a record 455 straight sellouts. A record that probably doesn’t cross your consciousness very often, it’s probably going to fall this year to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Best Director – Kevin Youkilis, for setting up the Red Sox spring training Ping-Pong tournament. This award most certainly does not go to whoever decided to try to get the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim into the Suns-Lakers game last week.

Best Actors – Comedy – The Baltimore Orioles run away with this category. There’s your standard funny, which goes to Kevin Millar or there is your “laughing to keep from crying” award which goes to Troy Patton, who came over in the Tejada trade from Houston.

Best Actors – Drama – That goes to our own Delmon Young and Carl Crawford. It’s always interesting to read both sides of a non-story, I guess.

Best PictureDenial by NoMaas It’s the February 21 entry, but it doesn’t have an individual permalink, so I’ll just quote it here.

Derek Jeter arrived at his 16th Yankees spring training yesterday labeled the worst shortstop in the majors by some statistical braniacs over at Penn.

“Maybe it was a computer glitch,” the three-time Gold Glove winner said of the report. But Jeter just didn’t laugh this one off. He defended himself, saying, “Every (shortstop) doesn’t stay in the same spot, everyone doesn’t have the same pitching. Everyone doesn’t have the same hitters running, it’s impossible to do that.”

That’s one reason Yankees senior advisor Gene Michael was infuriated by the University of Pennsylvania report.

“Something like that is a disgrace,” the scout said. “It made me ill when I read that article. First of all, what pitching staff was out there? Each team has a different staff. Derek doesn’t really have a sinkerball pitching staff whereas other shortstops, you sit behind certain pitchers, you’re going to get a lot of ground balls.

“You simply can’t do that by those charts, that’s a bunch of baloney,” Michael added. “It’s disgraceful. You have to use a scout’s eye to determine range.”

Denial: A defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

NHL Post-Season Awards

My take on the post-season awards from a Wild-eye view:

Hart (MVP)
(143 ballots)

Winner – Crosby (PIT)
Wild – Marian Gaborik (2 fifth-place votes, T-20th)
I was actually pleasantly surprised that Gabby got some votes. He certainly proved he was valuable to the team this year. The Wild were 33-9-6 (1.5 pts/G) with number 10 in the lineup, while going 15-17-2 (0.94 pts/G) without him. Gaborik finished second in the league to Vincent Lecavalier with 0.62 goals per game in ’06-’07.

Calder (Rookie)
(143 ballots)

Winner – Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Wild – Josh Harding (1 fifth-place vote, T-13th)
That’s about right I think. Good start for the young netminder. Hopefully he’ll get some more looks this year once the goalie situation settles.

Jack Adams (Coach)
(72 ballots)

Winner – Vigneault (VAN)
Wild – Jacques Lemaire (2 first-place votes, named on 10 ballots, 7th)
I don’t know that I would have put Lemaire in my top 3 coaches this year. Maybe if the Wild had won their division, but otherwise it was a solid but unspectacular year for Jacques.

Norris (Defenseman)
(143 ballots)

Winner – Lidstrom (DET)
Wild – Keith Carney (1 third-place vote, 19th)
Wait, did I read that right? Keith Carney!? I don’t know what to say, I guess he had the best +/- of Wild defensemen, but my vote would have gone to Kim Johnsson as the Wild’s best.

Selke (Defensive Forward)
(143 ballots)

Winner – Brind’Amour (CAR)
Wild – Brian Rolston (1 first-place vote, named on 17 ballots, 16th)
I think this award is really hard to pick correctly so I’ll just say that the Wild have always relied on defensive play from their forwards and the fact that the team that allowed the fewest goals in the league doesn’t have a forward or defenseman in the top 15 of their respective defensive categories strikes me as odd.

Vezina (Goalie)
(30 ballots)

Winner – Brodeur (NJ)
Wild – Niklas Backstrom (1 second-place vote, 1 third-place vote, 6th)
Backstrom was the only goalie given a second place vote besides Brodeur and Luongo. Someone put him ahead of Luongo, and I think that’s a difficult position to defend. Luongo should have won and Backstrom probably should have got a few more 3rd-place votes.

Lady Byng
(Gentleman)

This had got to be one of the most ridiculous awards in sports. No further comment necessary. (If you must know, Pierre-Marc Bouchard finished 5th in the voting)