It’s time for part two of the first annual New York Mets’ “Little Big League” awards. Who will take home some hardware?
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of introducing a fictitious set of awards based on the 1994 baseball classic, “Little Big League.” Part one was spent dishing out predictions as to which New York Mets would take home the Mac Macnally Mentorship Award, Jim Bowers Off The Beaten Path Award, Jerry Johnson Washed Up Award, Tucker Kain Sidekick Award, and John “Blackout” Gatling Difficult Award. With so many lovable and endearing characters, it quickly became clear to me that this would have become a two-parter. Without further ado, I present the second half of my predictions for the First Annual Little Big League Awards.
Mike McGrevey Cash Rules Everything Around Me Award
Throughout the film, we learn there is one and only one thing on Mike McGrevey’s (portrayed by Scott Patterson) mind: money. The de facto ace of the fictional Minnesota Twins has his eyes set on his next big contract and wants no part of the new managerial regime. He even goes as far to intentionally perform poorly in order to facilitate a trade. Over time, McGrevey warms up to Billy as the Twins rounded into playoff contention, not without the help of a few zingers by the quick thinking Skipper along the way (“What’s the going rate is for an absent-minded pitcher who can’t get anyone out?”).
The easy pick for this award is Matt Harvey. Harvey is certainly no longer the ace of this ball club the way McGrevey anchored the Twins, but The Dark Knight’s behavior has given us a glimpse into the free-wheeling, party-heavy lifestyle that he enjoys leading. Harvey has always carried himself with a superstar-like aura as he was well on the path to being one only a few years ago. Before Tommy John surgery and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome took their toll, many saw Harvey has a potential $200 million pitcher when he reached free agency. Having Scott Boras as your agent also doesn’t do any justice when making conservative contract predictions and projections.
Nevertheless, Harvey will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2018 season. With millions of dollars disappearing before his eyes from wear and tear, Harvey almost is certainly focused on this upcoming offseason. The 28-year-old is already off to a solid start this Spring and if he can stay healthy and produce moderately throughout the season, then he is inline for a pretty impressive payday. It may not be $200 million, but the going rate for reliable starting pitching is still reasonably high.
Airhead Clubhouse Guy Award
Left fielder Lonnie Ritter can be best described as a lighthearted, affable nitwit. It becomes pretty clear early on that Ritter is a bit of an airhead after he expresses how fascinated he was at the fact that children down in Venezuela speak Spanish at such a young age. Even when Lou Collins tries to inform him that Spanish is their native language, he still doesn’t seem to get it.
It’s always good to have easy going, light-hearted guys in the clubhouse, which is why I’m picking Brandon Nimmo for this category. I hope he doesn’t take offense to this because I don’t see Nimmo as an airhead. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. What I do know is that Brandon Nimmo always has a smile on his face and is genuinely happy to be playing baseball every day. That kind of light-hearted demeanor always makes for a good clubhouse guy just like Lonnie Ritter. Maybe I should change the name of this award to clubhouse guy (see above).
Mark Hodges Resistance Award
Change is scary and most of the time people fear it. After getting adjusted to a certain routine, it’s hard to break stride, especially when the change in question is drastic. Common sense would have us all expect that there would be plenty of resistance to a 12-year-old managing a Major League Baseball franchise. Early on, we get a good glimpse of that resistance from the Twins’ catcher, Mark Hodges (John Minch).
Hodges is not a fan of Heywood taking over at the onset and is seen on camera rebuffing Heywood’s friendliness by saying, “if you want a friend, get a dog.” The backstop also goes on to ignore a hit and run sign and hangs a runner out to dry as a way to sabotage his manager. Eventually, Hodges comes around like the rest of the team and even takes to defending his young manager.
I hope to be proven wrong over the course of the Summer, but for now, my sights are set on Asdrubal Cabrera for this honor. Based on what we saw last season, at times Cabrera can be resistant to change. When his declining defense became more evident, he was asked to switch to second base and later on ended up at third. Under the belief that he could still man shortstop effectively, a proposed switch to second caused him to request a trade. Shortly afterward, he retracted his trade request, but it’s still burnt into all of our memories. Under Mickey Callaway, the Mets are going to be doing things a lot different this year. Some may be in Cabrera’s wheelhouse and some may not be. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the different style of leadership in 2018.
Mickey Scales Touch ‘Em All Award
As far as we know, Mickey Scales is the lone rookie in the Twins starting lineup. A speedy baserunner with a good glove, it is implied that Scales leaves a bit to be desired at the plate. In late game situations, he is generally pinch-hit for. When the film culminates with a Minnesota-Seattle one-game playoff to make the postseason, the Twins find themselves behind by a deficit of three runs. After they string together a rally, Scales is due up and rather than pinch-hit, Heywood opts to let his second baseman swing the bat. Heywood’s move is immediately rewarded when Scales blasts a three-run home run into the seats to tie the game.
Given that the purpose of this award is to select a young player to come up big with the bat at some point in the season, the only real choice is Amed Rosario. Rosario faltered in his first taste of major league action but flashed signs of greatness, which is enough for all of us to remain invested in this future superstar (hopefully). I wouldn’t expect a full breakout yet — Rosario is only 22 years old — but I intend to see at least a few big moments from the young shortstop this season. Bonus points if it comes in the form of a game-tying three-run home run in the middle of the Wild Card game.
Lou Collins All-Around Good Guy Award
Lou Collins is a fictional Twins lifer. He was drafted out of high school by Billy’s grandfather Thomas Heywood, is an All-Star, and easily the best player in the organization. In addition to all of that, he’s a leader, great clubhouse guy, and all-around good guy. His only misstep in the film is dating Billy’s mom, which somehow winds up resulting in a curfew and being benched temporarily.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but if David Wright spends any time on the field in 2018, he is deserving of this accolade. Wright is the most important clubhouse guy on this team and his leadership skills impact the entire organization positively. Unfortunately, the odds remain stacked against him when it comes to being healthy. The amount of time he has missed over the last few seasons doesn’t instill much confidence in his ability to be on the field. With that being said, Yoenis Cespedes will have to be my backup selection. This is of course contingent on whether he’s actually given up playing golf in season. Cespedes is the Mets best offensive weapon and if his new training regimen is as effective as advertised then we should see a rejuvenated Yo in 2018.
I look forward to revisiting this in October after we’ve hopefully seen the Mets obliterate the Nationals and land their seventh division title. For now, we will just have to wait and see.