2001 'Lugie' Awards
added 1/2/2002 by Susan and Darrell Pittman
Susan and I would like to establish what we hope will become an annual tradition here on The Astros Daily: the Lugie Awards, named in honor of error-prone Houston Astros shortstop Julio Lugo. The purpose is to salute the most bone-headed actions of the previous season made by anyone connected with the game of baseball -- the Astros in particular, Major League Baseball, or just baseball in general.
So, for the First Annual Lugie Awards, covering the 2001 season, Susan and I
The 2001 Lugies
Worst Actor: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, for his whiny, if not cynical appearance before the recent Congressional hearings. Less convincing crocodile tears have never been shed. Claiming that MLB was losing billions per year had to take a lot of guts. True, he backed his testimony up with unaudited figures from overly-cooked books, but in one of the hearing's more telling moments, Representative Maxine Waters reminded him that he was "under oath."
Biggest Spendthrift: This award goes jointly to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and Rangers owner Tom Hicks. In a desperate effort to out-spend each other for top-of-the-line free agents, they combine to drive up the price of even mediocre talent for everyone else. Working in concert with Donald Fehr and Scott Boras, they seem determined to drive MLB into the ground. $252 million for Alex Rodriguez? C'mon!
Worst Father: Felipe de Jesus Almonte, who lied about his son Danny's age, and either tricked or forced his 14-year-old son into playing Little League under the guise of a 12-year-old in the 2001 Little League World Series. I've seen Little League parents, coaches, and managers behave despicably in my time, but this takes the cake. Even more outrageous, the elder Almonte held his son out of school for eighteen months so that it wouldn't interfere with baseball. The real victim here, of course, is the boy. Unfortunately, it's a harbinger of even greater avarice to come. Watch for Danny to be drafted by the Yankees upon reaching the age of 17.
Worst Toupe: Bug Selig. Honorable Mention: the Astros' "Hall of Fame Announcer", Milo Hamilton.
Least Committment to Winning by an Owner: Drayton McLane, Jr., for holding the line on player payroll, while his team enjoys record attendance and revenues, benefits from a taxpayer-funded ballpark, and claims that the franchise loses money.
Least Committment to Winning by Players: The Astros. For the third time in a row, they choke, and exit the playoffs in the first round. Also, for the two-week losing streak that saw them slump from a six-game lead to a tie for the division championship.
Biggest On-Field Error: Who else? Julio Lugo, for booting a sure double-play ball with the score tied 3-3 in the 8th inning of Game 1 of the 2001 NLDS with the Braves. The error led to Chipper Jones' game-winning three-run homer.
Best Example of Baseball Ignorance by Fans: To the fans at Enron Field for booing when Barry Bonds was walked during the San Francisco series. The Astros' duty was to win games and reach the playoffs, not to help Bonds achieve a record.
Worst Strategic Turnaround by a Manager: Larry Dierker's change in management style from never pulling a pitcher until way too late, to his swift yanking of Mike Jackson in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the Playoff series with the Braves.
Best Show of Stick-It-To-The-Fan: Aramark's price hike for the already overpriced refreshments by at least 25 cents during the playoff series. I guess we get the last laugh since there were only two playoff games at EFUS.