It’s Award Season

Well, we’ve had the Grammys and the Oscars, and the Tony Awards are probably coming up or maybe have already happened or maybe are happening right now (really, they’re the Tonys, who cares), so we must be in award season. In light of this and to simultaneously honor and usher out the month of February — the worst sports month of the year — I present my own awards honoring the best and worst of the past 28 days.

The “Kevin James Is Paul Blart Mall Cop ‘What Recession?’ Award goes to: Fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, who helped the club set a franchise record for one-day sales by moving 104,000 single-game tickets in six hours on February 28. As pleased as I am about the Brewers’ awesome support, I can’t help but wonder if the fans who had lined up for days at Miller Park for the so-called “Arctic Tailgate” know something I don’t about the Brewers’ questionable starting rotation. I hope so.

The “Kevin James Is Paul Blart Mall Cop ‘What Recession?’ Award Part Two goes to:Manny Ramirez, who just last week rejected the Los Angeles Dodgers’ fourth contract offer this offseason. The clueless outfielder apparently feels that $45 million for two years’ work is somehow insulting. Defenders of Ramirez argue that much of the money in the Dodgers’ offer is deferred, and that he wouldn’t completely collect on the tens of millions of dollars until as late as 2013. No doubt fans in California, where unemployment has soared into the double digits, wholeheartedly understand Boras’s and Ramirez’s argument. About as much as I understand everything happening this season on Lost.

The Mickey Rourke Comeback Award goes to: The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team. Despite a miserable second half in the February 22 loss at Michigan State, February was a very good month for Bo Ryan’s team. Five straight wins, highlighted by a return to dominating defense and rebounding, put the team right back into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament picture. Three very winnable games in March to close out the regular season should give the Badgers no worse than an eight seed in the Big Dance.

“The Joaquin Phoenix/Gov. Bobby Jindal Worst Performance Award” goes to: Alex Rodriquez. Really? A-Rod’s not telling us the whole  truth? Not since fast food restaurants were exposed for being unhealthy has investigative journalism been so easy. The long pauses, lack of eye contact, and overall incomprehensibility of A-Rod’s February 17 “tell-all” press conference added up to the year’s most painful acting performance not given by Paris Hilton. Jon “Yeah, that’s the ticket” Lovitz should sue A-Rod for copyright infringement.

The “Fading Faster Than Melanie Griffith’s Career” Award goes to: The Wisconsin men’s hockey team. After a spectacular close to 2008, Mike Eaves’s team has gone 6-7-1 in 2009. What’s worse is the team has gone 2-6 at home since January. The team can still score a home playoff series in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, but there’s no doubt this team has cooled.

“The Matt Kenseth Hometown Hero Award” goes to: Matt Kenseth. By the time you read this, the Cambridge native may have made NASCAR history by winning the first three races of 2009. Even if his March 1 attempt in Las Vegas falls short, Kenseth had a remarkable February, winning the Daytona 500 and then a week later emerging victorious at the Auto Club 500. I don’t claim to be the world’s leading authority on auto racing, but it’s clear that Kenseth is in rarefied air right now.

The “Sarah Palin Fighting For Relevance in 2009 Award” goes to: The Milwaukee Bucks. Despite losing Michael Redd in late January for the season, despite losing Andrew Bogut days later until at least the end of March, and despite, well, being the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bucks are still treading water in the improved East. They are four games under .500 but still hold onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The bad news is only 3.5 games separate them and the five teams below them. And it’s only March 1. But hey, if the Bucks fail, they can always blame Tina Fey.


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