Time to Pass Out the Hardware
by Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
For the fourth year in a row here at Artvoice, we are pleased to present and announce our infamous Pat Listach Award and Jimmy Hamilton Award, handed each year to the two players who turned in clunker performances during the season.
Now if you haven’t heard of these awards before, not to worry, for this is all about some silliness that we generated as fans in the stands a few seasons back. We collaborated back then with our good friend and super sports fan Christopher Mach of Cheektowaga, who founded these awards, and eventually got the fans who sat around us in section 112 involved in the fun. Starting in 2001, the awards went “big time,” if you will, on public access television where the two dozen or so viewers of the program could watch the craziness. Since 2004, Artvoice has held exclusive rights to the annual awards presentation.
The Pat Listach Award is presented to the worst Bisons hitter on the roster. Listach is a former American League rookie of the year who ended his career in a Bisons uniform in 1998. Listach now manages the AA Tennessee Smokies. The Jimmy Hamilton Award for the worst pitcher is named after former Bisons prospect Jimmy Hamilton, whose claim to fame as a Bison was surrendering back-to-back home runs in the 1997 AAA World Series in Las Vegas to the New Orleans Zephyrs. Hamilton is no longer involved in baseball.
The first shocker, which almost derailed the 2007 edition of the awards, came from Chris Mach himself. In an email earlier this month, Mach replied, “I am so far out of the loop with the team this year…I have no idea who on the team is deserving of the awards this year.”
Undaunted, we scrambled to revamp the selection process, and enlisted the assistance of the Dunn Tire Park press box crew to chime in with their choices; our fellow scribes (who shall remain nameless for this article) were only too happy to oblige. The composite press box selections comprise one official vote, with our choices rounding out the voting process.
Without further ado, the awards…
For the Pat Listach Award, three names cropped up to merit serious discussion. Shortstop Hector Luna batted a respectable .269 during his time in Buffalo, but led the team with 21 errors, including several multiple error games. Second baseman Trent Durrington’s play improved late in the season, but with only 19 RBI and for the most part a sub .200 average with runners in scoring position, the Bison’s famous Aussie deserved a look. Lastly, third baseman Andy Marte also made our radar screen, only because of the heightened expectations attached to being one of Cleveland’s top prospects.
In a split decision, the 2007 Listach Award goes to Hector Luna. One could only speculate where this team might have been if the Indians had simply assigned solid prospect Asdrubal Cabrera to Buffalo instead of leaving him in Akron. Luna was taken off Cleveland’s 40-man roster and designated for assignment on July 27, and departed Buffalo on that day, never to return.
Scouring the pitching staff for the 2007 Hamilton Award was a far more challenging task. With the team ERA mired in 13th place for much of the season, one could make an argument for giving the award to the entire crew, or to pitching coach Scott Radinsky. Furthermore, no one pitcher stood out from among the pack; 2006 phenom rookie Jeremy Sowers was sent down from Cleveland on June 14 and proceeded to continue his losing ways in Buffalo. Sowers had the Hamilton within his grasp, but then blew it by earning wins on August 17 and 22 with solid outings.
Other pitchers earning mentions included relievers Juan Lara, Bubby Buzachero and the departed Jim Ed Warden, along with starters Eric DuBose and Cliff Lee. Yes, Cliff Lee, who was optioned to Buffalo on July 31 along with his three-year, $14-million contract extension and is 1-2 in seven appearances with the Bisons.
To be funny, Listach finalist Trent Durrington could have also merited consideration for the Hamilton. On April 23, he pitched the top of the ninth in an emergency situation and actually walked in two runs on eight pitches. That was the famous game where Buffalo plated nine runs in the bottom of the ninth, winning in epic fashion, 15-14, and actually making Durrington the winning pitcher of record.
But in a season of weak candidates where no pitcher really stood out head and shoulders above his peers, the 2007 Hamilton Award goes to Edward “Bubby” Buzachero. In 38 appearances as a spot starter, middle reliever and closer, Buzachero is 3-6 with a 4.90 ERA, and enough memorable blow-ups to capture the award in a weak year.
So the Listach and Hamilton Awards live on, despite the unexpected hiatus of their esteemed founder Chris Mach. We promise to get Chris back in the saddle come 2008, even if we have to drag him to the ballpark ourselves!
For more discussion and background on these awards, log on to Andrew’s and Peter’s site at http://thesportsroadtrip.wnymedia.net.
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