May 27, 2005
First quarter awards
The biggest Katastrophe of the past week is not the fact I’m sitting in 11th place in both office leagues, or that it took me an extra day to file this column. It’s that I have yet to see Revenge of the Sith, eight days after it was released.
Considering I’ve gone to Star Wars opening day in 1983 (Jedi), 1999 (Phantom Menace) and 2002 (Clones), it’s just downright sad that I haven’t made it to the theater yet. Making matters worse is that both my mom and mother-in-law have seen it, and have both called to discuss the movie, naturally assuming I’d already seen it four times. I even bought a ticket last week when I was in LA, but a bunch of work came up at the last second and I wasn’t able to go.
Three years ago, right before Attack of the Clones came out, I wrote a Star Wars-themed column. Since I am still 59 percent braindead from taking a red-eye back from California earlier this week, I decided to use the same idea and hand out Star Wars awards for the first quarter of the season. Nothing like ripping off your own ideas from the past.
The Jar Jar Binks award
To the player who has performed so poorly that he is unbearable to watch — or have on your fantasy team:
Carlos Pena: Anyone who has owned Pena this season certainly has trouble turning on a Tigers game or checking Detroit’s box scores at this point. A .177 average with three homers (none since May 2), 14 RBIs and only two hits in the past two weeks is enough to make any owner wish they could edit out his stats from this season — making their overall 2005 numbers look much better.
The R5-D4 award
To a player or droid who seemed worthy of first selection, but broke down before ever really getting to perform:
Curt Schilling: Went high at every draft this season, yet made it through only three starts (1-2, 8.15 ERA) before his ankle sidelined him for at least three months.
The Anakin Skywalker award
To a prospect who turned to the dark side rather fast:
Joe Blanton: Many thought he was going to be the next Rich Harden, instead has turned out to be the next Joe Slusarski (think early 90s A’s). It’s hard to do much worse than 0-5 with a 6.55 ERA, 20 walks and only 13 K’s in 44.0 innings.
The Emperor award
To an old guy that keeps hurting you until you finally dump him:
Al Leiter: He’ll turn 40 this year, but unlike fellow aging hurlers Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson, Leiter appears to be on the way out after posting a 2-5 record with a 6.91 ERA in nine starts so far this season.
The Rancor Monster award
To an extreme personality who had everything come crashing down on him pretty fast:
Jose Lima: Just when people were starting to trust him after a solid 2004 (13-5, 4.07), Lima has returned to his 2000-2002 days when he posted a combined ERA of 6.40. In his first 11starts of 2005, the fiery righty has gone 0-4 with a nauseating 8.13 ERA.
The Stormtrooper award
To a player who gets injured if anything touches him, including Ewoks:
Nomar Garciaparra and Juan Gonzalez (tie): After playing in only 81 games a year ago, Nomar made it two weeks this season before tearing his groin. Igor (has anyone called Gonzalez that this decade?) on the other hand would easily win this award, but at this point I’m not even sure he really exists anymore. He hasn’t played in more than 82 games since 2001, although he is supposedly ready to return from his latest
hamstring injury. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Kevin Mitchell will be receiving a lifetime achievement award in this category next year. During his playing days, Mitchell injured himself while eating a cupcake and once strained a muscle while vomiting.
The IG-88 award
To the tallest starting pitcher (or bounty hunter) who failed to produce anything noteworthy (Vader sent IG-88 along with five other bounty hunters after Han and Luke, but only Boba Fett was successful in hunting them down):
Paul Wilson: The 6-foot-5 righty is 1-5 with a 7.77 ERA, including an 0.0 IP, 8 ER start three weeks ago. He’s been removed from Cincy’s rotation, and hopefully permanently from every fantasy lineup.
The C3PO on Endor award
To a player who everyone (including Ewoks) thought was a god, but in reality wasn’t:
Adrian Beltre: A year after leading the Majors in homers (48) and batting .334, Beltre has returned to his old ways. His average has dropped nearly 100 points (.239), and he’s on pace to hit only 18 home runs.
The Han Solo in Carbonite Award
To a player who used to be smooth and slick, but now appears to be completely frozen:
Vernon Wells: Wasn’t this guy supposed to go .300-35-110, 10-15 SB for the next 10 years? While he does have eight home runs, his .225 average and two steals can’t make anyone very happy.
The Han Solo ‘Trust Me’ Award
To a closer who gets the job done, despite everyone’s growing lack of confidence in him.
Keith Foulke edges out favorite Jose Mesa, thanks to 11 saves in 13 attempts, despite a disgusting 6.95 ERA and six homers allowed in 22 innings.
The Yoda Award
To a veteran who should be past his prime, yet is kicking some major butt:
Roger Clemens: No explanation needed when a 42-year-old has a 1.19 ERA after 10 starts.
The Millennium Falcon Award
To a player who performs well when healthy, but always seems to require some maintenance work:
El Duque: Made it through five weeks of the season at 5-1, 2.91, before breaking down in his last start and landing on the DL for the 47th time in the past five years.