Blogging The ESPYs – Part 1

Due to a certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless, I’ve watched the ESPY awards for the last couple of years. The hitch: I hate the ESPY awards. There are a few reasons for this… most notably: anything fans vote on usually turns out to be wrong. Anything fans vote for on a network that selectively covers sports is going to be bone-shatteringly wrong. This is actually true… When Peyton Manning won Best Male Athlete I actually punched SMS so hard that his shoulder shattered. He’s not happy with me.

The problem with the ESPYs is thus: ESPN selectively covers sports and, even more, selectively covers certain teams in those sports. As such, they create ballots with names they cover, leave out guys who are tremendously deserving of these fake awards, and then allow fans to vote on them. The “fans” also always miraculously seem to vote for people who make appearances at the award show. This is before you get into the fact that they tape the award show they day after the MLB All-Star game, which is unequivocally the worst day for American sports, and hold it until Sunday. Instead of airing a live award show, on a network where they can go 12 hours over and they’ll only be cutting into 5 or 6 re-runs of Sportscenter, they tape-delay it until Sunday, so everyone can already look-up who won everything. This has never made sense to me.

This year wasn’t much different. Most of the awards were predictable. I’ll leave out women’s sports awards because I’ll be happy if I never have to type the words “Vivian” and “Stringer” near each other ever again and, well, come on.

Best Baseball Player

Derek Jeter (OPS+ 138, 123 RC)* won best baseball player over AL MVP Justin Morneau (146, 125), Ryan Howard (170, 161) Albert Pujols (180(!), 154), and AL Cy Young award-winner Johan Santana (ya kiddin?). Two MVPs, A Cy Young Winner, and maybe the best hitter in the game today… and it goes to Jeter. We’re off to a rocking start.

Best Basketball Player

ESPY-host LeBron James won best basketball player over 4-rings worth of Tim Duncan and 2005/2006 MVP Steve Nash.

Best Football Player

Nickname-stealing whore LaDanian Tomlinson won best football player over Drew Brees, LJ, Peyton Manning, Jason Taylor, and Brian Urlacher… actually, this one is probably spot on, but I just like to point out that LDT is a nickname stealing whore.

If the “fans” can’t even figure out who the best player in league is… even though the leagues themselves actually have awards that say “This guy was the best players in the league” what’s that say when the awards start pitting other sports against one another? Well, it probably says that ESPN faves are going to be walking away with a lot of awards.

Best Breakthrough Athlete

Your choices are: Devin Hester, Kevin Durant, Ryan Howard, and Morgan Pressel. First, let’s talk about why Sidney Crosby isn’t on the list. ESPN and the NHL parted ways on not so great terms last season, but you’d think the kid who’s supposed to save hockey might be able to fight his way onto a list of breakthrough athletes on a fake award show. Let’s look at the choices… we have a guy who’s famous for hitting 1,000 home runs in the 2nd half of last year and who won the National League MVP in his first full season, a guy who didn’t win the NCAA tournament, and a guy who ran back the opening kickoff for the Super Bowl… whose team then proceeded to get trounced.

Of course, the MVP of an entire league loses to Devin Hester… who, mark my words, will do nothing this season as the Bears go 6-10.

Best Moment

I get why you’d want to vote for the Saints returning to New Orleans. I really do… but let’s be honest here: the Saints had one foot in Los Angeles before Katrina. The only reason that the Saints aren’t getting ready to pack their bags and play somewhere else is because of the media firestorm that would have followed if the owner was that stupid. At the end of the day, they played a game in their home stadium. On the other side, you had a guy do the basketball equivalent of an unannounced wrestling run-in to a standing ovation who then made a clutch shot in the fourth quarter.

Best Game

Only three choices: Fiesta Bowl (Boise State vs Oklahoma). Oklahoma State over Texas (college basketball triple overtime). AFC Championship (Colts over Patriots). In fairness, while I do understand that ESPN refuses to cover EPL games (whether it’s because they don’t think people outside the Deportes channel cares, I don’t know) the single best game I saw on any television in the last year was Arsenal vs Manchester United on January 21, 2007. The match saw Man U ahead 1-0 the entire game until Arsenal tied it in the 83rd minute, and then took the match 2-1 in injury time. I realize in the US this doesn’t go on the list and I actually feel smug and pretentious even talking about it… but I can’t help it. It was one of those legitimate sports’ moments that you watch and jump out of your chair shouting, sending coffee across the room and scaring your cat, until your girlfriend or wife come into the room to make sure you’re not having a heart-attack. Then you sheepishly realize you just had a major freak-out moment because of a game. They’re few and far between… and as an EPL nomad it moved Arsenal far up my “I need to pick an EPL team” list.

On the actual list… I will admit I did not watch the Fiesta Bowl as it was occurring, but the award was for “best game” not “best 5 minutes.” The Patriots/Colts game was historic in the comeback and for the sheer turn from “I can’t believe the Colts are going to blow this again” to “Holy crap, the Colts are going to win the Super Bowl.” In this case, the one thing that the NFL should have won and they didn’t. Go figure.

Best Championship Performance

Do you think maybe, just maybe, you should have to actually win the championship you played for to be nominated for “Best Championship Performance?” I don’t know, maybe I’m just crazy like that but I’m pretty sure there was a roster of 12 Spurs who had a better championship performance than LeBron James. Roger Federer played one of the greatest tennis matches I’ve ever seen the week before. As loathe as I am to admit it, “scrappy” David Eckstein threw up a .364 average in the World Series. Yadier Molina hit a home run that drove a stake into the Mets almost 100-win season and then proceeded to hit .412 and throw up a 1.029 OPS in the World Series. Jeff Weaver was so bad in the AL East that the Angels traded him to the Cardinals for Terry Evans… a 47th round draft pick. He then proceeded to pitch so well in the post-season, (3-2 2.42) that he promptly got offered an inexplicable contract back in the AL East. That’s three Cardinals that actually won their championship… not to mention Tim Duncan, Dirty Bruce Bowen, and Manu Ginobli… all of whom had a better “championship performance” then the guy who, you know, lost.

You know, with that field (LeBron, Peyton, Jimmie Johnson, Serena Williams) they probably picked the right winner… but the field was ridiculous.

Coming up next: Part 2. I haven’t even really gotten rolling with Federer yet…