The Ryan Braun Polarizer Prize, and 5 other Brewers mid-season awards
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To many, the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers season has been over for quite some time. However, a sizable portion of this soul-sucking and injury-riddled marathon still must be limped through before the team can officially call it a year.
Even though the 100-some games Milwaukee has played to this point have translated into a team presently in last place and missing the majority of its best players (for, uh, a variety of reasons), a handful of Brewers deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments through this point in the season. However, with a team doing this poorly, we had to get pretty creative with mid-season(ish) accolades doled out to those on Milwaukee’s payroll.
The Polarizer Prize: Ryan Braun
On July 21, Ryan Braun was an embattled hero working his way back from injury to resume his ongoing war against those foolish enough to not believe he was the victim of a tainted 2011 urine sample, leaked report, and presence on damming documents. By day’s end on July 22, the lynchpin in Milwaukee’s franchise was a “LIER” (angry-speak for “Liar” we assume), cheater, comparable to an alleged triple-murder, and, evidently, deserving of homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs by an army of mouth breathers on Twitter.
While a rational mind puts Braun somewhere between flawless god and immoral gay Jew, it’s impossible to discount the drastic and polarizing turn the franchise player’s career and reputation have taken in less than a season’s time.
The Ben Sheets Award for Frequent Injury: Aramis Ramírez
Despite Mat Gamel’s annual season-ending malady happening before the first Spring Training game, and Corey Hart’s ambitious early May return undergoing a frustrating augmentation to a completely lost campaign, we have to give this one to Aramis Ramírez. The veteran third baseman has spent nearly half the season on the disabled list with a laundry list of leg injuries.
Worse yet are the games he’s able to play. His nagging boo-boos have rendered his once-tortoise-like pace into that of a lazy snail (costing Milwaukee numerous runs) and limited his range at the hot corner. His power numbers have also taken a significant hit in the process, as he’s on pace for his worst statistical season since 1999, in which he played just 18 games. Ramírez’s health combined with his massive contract has rendered him almost untradeable by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Least Disappointing of Disappointing Starting Pitchers (a.k.a. “The Higuera”): Kyle Lohse
Through no fault of his own, Kyle Lohse’s Brewers career began on a sour note. When the 34-year-old hurler inked a three-year deal just before the start of the season, droves of Crew fans were sent into hysterics on account of the first round pick Milwaukee gave to rival St. Louis Cardinals as a result of the acquisition. Lohse’s age and $33M price tag were also cause of some ire.
Still, the veteran pitcher has been one of the few bright spots in Milwaukee’s starting rotation. In more than 120 innings of work, Lohse has an ERA firmly in the threes and has quality starts in more than half his outings. He’s reportedly also been a clubhouse treasure to a young pitching staff that would otherwise need to resort to asking Yovani Gallardo for advice. Phew!
The Craig Counsell Award for Accomplishment in Grit: Scooter Gennett
When Rickie Weeks scuffled for much of the season’s early going, knee-jerk fans were desperate for a solution to the worsening problem at second base. With no other (non-Yuniesky Betancourt-related) place to turn, Milwaukee eventually reluctantly opted for the gritty (read: small, unheralded, and white) likes of Ryan “Scooter” Gennett. From his June 3 debut through his June 27 demotion, the term “scrappy,” “resilient,” and “gamer” were tossed around liberally as the baseball John Kuhn hit .214 in 17 games. Weeks eventually won his job back in full, but Scooter will be back from Nashville again, as is the way of the gritty player.
The Trenni Kusnierek Medal for Excellence in In-game Broadcast Excellence: Sophia Minnaert
Between Davey Nelson’s unmatched analysis (“Young man has good hands”), Mark Concannon’s and Telly Hughes’ ability to endure Gatorade showers and shaving cream pie shrapnel during rare post-game celebrations, and the fact that Jerry Augustine hasn’t died yet, FSWisconsin is rich with capable correspondents. But none of them hold a candle to Sophia Minnaert.
The sprite-like sideline reporter doesn’t just get by on her regional beauty alone. In addition to sprinkling in game notes in her charming Midwestern dialect, Minnaert has conducted post-game interviews in Spanish and showed her composure when having her microphone knocked out of her hands by a foul ball. Eat your heart out, Craig Coshun.
The Jean Segura Award for Excellence in Being Jean Segura: Jean Segura
Though Carlos Gómez deserves consideration for this great honor (as well as a Gold Glove), he falls just short in one way. He’s not Jean Segura. Jean Segura takes this one by a nose.