CHICAGO | Since the White Sox and Cubs likely won’t win any league-wide awards this year, it’s up to the Times Baseball Bureau to bestow some tarnished season-ending bling on the underachievers:
• The “Dewey Defeats Truman” Throwback Award goes to the Sox and Cubs. Just when you thought the all-time combined Chicago loss record of 191 in the twin last-place season of 1948 was safe, here comes 2013 with 195 defeats to pace the record books. And there isn’t even an all-time upset political winner like Harry Truman from ’48 to shift attention from abject baseball ineptitude.
• The IOU Award -- from the Sox to Chris Sale. The ace lefty was robbed of so many deserving wins through offensive, defensive and bullpen failures in 2013, he's owed about six victories from his teammates and field staff next season. So if Sale's good for 17 victories in 2014, add on a half-dozen more -- he'll win 23! Guilty parties, you know who you are.
• The Javier Vazquez Pick Six Award -- for the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija. The Valparaiso native often pitches like vintage Roger Clemens, until it all caves in during one inning, like the sixth, a specialty of ex-Sox hurler Vazquez. In fact, "Shark" is beginning to resemble Vazquez -- glittering stats except for the won-lost record.
• The “Look Sharp, Feel Sharp, How You Fixed for Blades?” Award to Cubs manager Dale Sveum. The droll ex-shortstop has created a new manscaping look – a permanent four-day growth of facial stubble. Instead of landing a Gillette contract to appear smooth, Sveum ought to get an endorsement of those late-night TV personal hair-cutters that would keep the stubble fashionably scrubby.
• The Dwight Smith Runs Until He Makes An Out Award to Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza. You name a baserunning situation, De Aza has goofed it up. Even more amazing was when Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing rated De Aza his best baserunner at making the turn around third and heading home.
• The Sounds of Silence Award to Hawk Harrelson for perhaps a record number of pregnant pauses reacting to shocking Sox setbacks this season. Hawk said he’s seen things he’s never seen before in baseball from the ’13 Sox.
• The Ming the Merciless Award goes not to a Chicago player, but to the Tigers’ Torii Hunter, Emperor of the Sox. The South Siders simply should offer their unconditional surrender to all-time Sox killer, who will gladly accept their sword. It’s a waste of effort to try to get out Hunter or lift an extra-base hit past him in right. And, yes, Hunter has heard of Ming of the ancient “Flash Gordon” serials. “The guy with the goatee,” he said.
• The Dreaded Leadoff Walk Award to Carlos Marmol, somehow gone Hollywood as a Dodger. Marmol finally, definitively, proved you can’t walk the ballpark in the late innings and get away with it via strikeouts – a style the Cubs broadcasters inexplicably endorsed. And when Marmol began adding gopher balls to his poor control, look out.
• The Group Hug Award to Theo Epstein and Rick Hahn, who will need all the love they can get this winter.