Finally, an award white boys can win

Although insignificant, a groundbreaking award was handed out for the first time this year to nine athletes: the “Radbourn Award.” For the young people who weren’t born in time to watch Old Hoss Radbourn win 59 games in the 1884 baseball season, it was a sight. Never have I seen with my own two eyes a more gritty and determined player.


The Old Hoss himelf. This is my brah, brah.


Author Edward Achorn was just as taken with Radbourn as I was, and wrote the book Fifty-nine in ’84 about Radbourn’s season and old-timey baseball in general, I guess. He also decided to give out the ridiculously arbitrary and undoubtedly racist Radbourn Awards for the first time, in all likelihood to promote his book further. The team?
P – Tim Lincecum
C – Ivan Rodriguez
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Dustin Pedroia
3B – Evan Longoria
SS – Derek Jeter
OF – Josh Hamilton
OF – Ryan Braun
OF – Ichiro Suzuki


I’ll let that sink in for just a minute…


Yes, there are three non-whites on the team (three and a half if you factor in Jeter’s oft-forgotten black father), the acceptably mainstream Pujols, Rodriguez and Ichiro. Other than those guys, this team is literally just the best white guy at every position. Except Jeter, who, as Joe Buck can attest, just wins games despite his obvious limitations as a ballplayer, because he’s gritty, I suppose.


What is the point of naming this team? To prove that white guys with worse statistics, injury problems, natural limitations and drug problems provide even more value to their teams than the threatening minorities who play better do? Heck, other than Hamilton and Pujols, every damn one of these players had a worse season this year than the year before. Did they get grittier because they played worse? Should we award them for “sticking with it?”


I don’t have a problem with grit as an aspect of the character of an athlete to evaluate. But the fact is that grit, heart, hustle, intelligence and “love of the game” have long been euphemisms to describe white athletes, regardless of how athletic they may be. Those same terms have also rarely been used to describe black athletes, so it’s not surprising to see this list is 66 percent white.


In fact, when I think of grittiness and overcoming a lack of talent and ability to make a positive contribution to the team, this past season, only one player comes to mind: Livan Hernandez. The guy is 35 years old, has been pitching a full season’s worth of games since his mid-teens, and was almost out of the league a few years ago. Last year, he comes out and tosses a 3.66 ERA and wins 10 games for the woeful Nationals. He averages about 82 m.p.h. on his pitches. Lincecum can throw in the high 90s, yet Tiny Tim’s ERA was just slightly better last year at 3.43.


And I’m sorry if I don’t see what’s so damn gritty about Josh Hamilton. Is it the fact that he was the #1 overall pick in the draft? Is it that dozens of scouts have their own stories of when they realized Hamilton was the most talented ballplayer they had ever seen? Or is it that he was a crackhead and an alcoholic not too long ago? He somehow managed to defy the odds and be the ballplayer that he was always supposed to be. Meanwhile thousands and thousands of gritty everyday people have overcome drug addiction to lead lives based on hard work, not on talent that was always there.


Give me a break. Achorn should name himself to the all-gritty author team, because he’s certainly overcoming a severe lack of judgment to become a successful writer.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Nimrod Zack on May 22, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Watch this hilarious video on where names from pitches come from?


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