With the All-Star break upon us, it's time to hand out some halfway-ish point of the season awards to MLB's best...and those who haven't been so good, either. Without further ado, let's dish out some hardware.
The Rick Dutrow Award for baseball's most obnoxious quote machine
Hank Steinbrenner. Thanks to the Boss Lite, we've learned that Red Sox Nation is nothing but a sinister plot cooked up by ESPN and the Red Sox, that Tampa Bay fans are arrogant (after one good half-season, wouldn't you be?) and that the antiquated rules of the National League cause injuries to pitchers.
Never mind that Wang's injury was pretty much the first of its kind during interleague play and never mind the fact that most Americans have still never met an honest-to-goodness Tampa fan. These "facts" are not important.
Also nominated: Nobody wanted to run against Hank for this award. Can't blame them.
The Amy Winehouse Award for the biggest on-field trainwreck
Andruw Jones in an absolute landslide. Gee, who would have guessed that somebody who batted .222 with 138 K in a contract year would continue putting up terrible numbers? He hit 41 HR in 2006 while batting only .262, and the Dodger's couldn't resist shoveling money into his wallet.
Naturally, he's rewarded LA fans by hitting two homers (the same as CC Sabathia) and batting .164 (which is considerably less than Sabathia's respectable .250). Look, LA, when a player hits .222 in a contract year, he's either getting old or fat. Jones is doing both.
Also nominated: Barry Zito, Jason Varitek, Jason Grilli, Jacques Jones.
The Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Award for the team that is much worse than expected
I'm not going to lie, I knew that the knew Indiana Jones movie wouldn't be on par with Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I did not expect to walk out of the theater completely unsatisfied. I'm sure Colorado Rockies fans are thinking the same about their team.
The defending NL Champions are 39-57, thanks to being 22 games under .500 on the road. This team probably wasn't going to make another World Series without some kind of divine intervention, but they couldn't have played that far above their heads last season, right?
Also nominated: Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians.
The Vanilla Ice Award for the player who is surprisingly still around
It's good to see Fernando Tatis back on a baseball diamond. The man who once hit two grand slams in the same inning was out of baseball entirely in 2004 and 2005.
Thankfully he decided not to go the V. Ice/Jose Canseco reality TV route during those years. He fought his way back to the majors through the Orioles farm system, just like Vanilla Ice fought his way back to musical relevance with his 2005 release "Platinum Underground".
Also nominated: Julio Franco (just kidding)
The Harrison Ford Award for the most puzzling managerial decision
Harrison Ford has gone on record as saying he wouldn't mind pulling the whip out for a fifth movie. After that last one, I'm praying to a various assortment of deities that he'll save some dignity and retire the whip. Even Han Solo never did anything that left you scratching your head this much.
This award is a tie. Jim Leyland gets it for steadfastly sticking with Jason Grilli during the early part of the season, even though he's not much of a pitcher. The Tigers could be a lot closer to first place in the AL Central if Grilli could hold a lead, or was framed for murder during spring training.
Jim Leyland also gets a nod for continuing to throw Fernando Rodney out there. He's got a WHIP of 1.60 and an ERA of 7.71, yet he still gets used. Didn't Leyland learn his lesson with Grilli?
I believe that Rodney is a much better pitcher than Grilli, but probably needs a decent amount of time in the minors to find the control on his fastball. Right now, hitters are either sitting on his change or taking a walk. The Tigers could be a lot closer to first place in the AL Central if Rodney could hold a lead.
Also nominated: Seattle's manager platoon for playing Richie Sexson every day (they were recently removed from consideration for this award.)
The Detective John Kimble Award for lack of plate discipline
Ryan Howard, for making Adam Dunn look like Placido Polanco. Howard is on pace for something like 847 strikeouts this season. It's only July and he's already got 129 of them, 30 more than the aforementioned Dunn.
Somehow, he's hit 28 home runs and batted in 84 runs. More than a quarter of his hits have been home runs. This is such a weird stat line.
Also nominated: Adam Dunn, Pedro Cerrano.
The Isuro "Taka" Tanaka Memorial Marbles Trophy
Clete Thomas of the Detroit Tigers for doing whatever it takes to keep Jim Leyland from sending him back down to the minors. He sprays hits all over the field, has gone into the bleachers catching a foul ball, and is doing it all with one of the best names in the entire league.