Dan's Dugout: MLB 2016 Goat of the Year • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: MLB 2016 Goat of the Year


Baseball is not just a game of heroes. For every hero, there is also a goat.

Marc Ernay, the erudite sports director of all-talk New York radio station WINS, just revealed Ryan Lochte as “Goat of the Year,” as chosen by his listeners.

Blessed with a superb sense of humor, he made it through the announcement without losing it but sounded like he came close. Listeners could detect his smiles without seeing them.

Baseball has its own candidates for Goat of the Year.

First, let’s look at baseball history.

Legendary goat Ralph Branca said the Giants cheated

Legendary goat Ralph Branca said the Giants cheated

Legendary goats, in no particular order, include Ralph Branca, Ralph Terry, Anthony Young, Bill Buckner, Lonnie Smith, Marv Throneberry, Jim Joyce, Frank Lane, and Bud Selig – a pretty good lineup of infamy right there. Need a DH, American League fans? How about George M. Steinbrenner, whose trade of Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps even morphed into a Seinfeld episode.

Branca and Terry threw historic gopher balls, Young lost 27 games in a row, Buckner’s error amd Smith’s baserunning blew world championships, Joyce botched a call that ruined a perfect game, Lane traded Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn, and Selig cancelled the postseason and enabled the steroids era.

There’s no shortage of candidates for the 2016 Goat of the Year either. Now that the votes are in, here’s how they stack up:

Jeury Familia had a bad ending to his season Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Jeury Familia had a bad ending to his season
Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

1. Jeurys Familia – After a sloppy performance in the 2015 World Series, the Mets closer led the National League with 51 saves. But then his postseason demons returned. In the ninth inning of the scoreless sudden-death wild-card game against San Francisco, he put two runners on base and then allowed a three-run homer from the least likely hitter in the Giants lineup: Conor Gillaspie. When the Mets couldn’t touch Madison Bumgarner in the bottom of the ninth, their season was finished – although Familia’s wasn’t. He faced a domestic violence charge even though he gave his free time to New York City as the mayor’s spokesman against domestic violence. Charges were dropped but a certain MLB suspension will follow – probably costing the Mets another potential pennant.

2. Buck Showalter – Choosing erratic starter Ubaldo Jimenez over history-making closer Zach Britton in the last inning of the American League’s wild-card game knocked Baltimore out of the playoff picture prematurely.

3. Cy Young voters – Red Sox righthander Rick Porcello posted a fine season but not better than Britton, who went 47-for-47 in saves and posted an 0.54 earned run average. He allowed one run after April. Sure, he didn’t pitch as many innings as Porcello but he was virtually perfect every time out.

4. Jose Bautista – His showboating, bat-flipping style infuriated opponents who ignored him when free agency beckoned after the season. The former Toronto slugger, whose price has dropped precipitously, is still looking for a home.

Bud Selig's Hall of Fame election was controversial

Bud Selig’s Hall of Fame election was controversial

5. The Veterans Committee – After failing to elect anybody two years in a row, this 16-man group chose Selig, the steroids enabler who cancelled the 1994 postseason and presided over multiple labor disputes, including a 232-day strike settled only by the courts.

6. Shelby Miller – The Arizona Diamondbacks thought so highly of this young righthander that they traded Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, and Aaron Blair to the Atlanta Braves. Miller struggled mightily, even spending time in the minors during a 3-12 season that included a 6.03 ERA. After a slow start, Inciarte hit .291 with 16 steals and won a Gold Glove, Swanson hit .302 and played a spectacular shortstop in 38 late-season games, and the still-developing Blair pitched well enough in the upper minors to earn a brief big-league trial with the Braves.

7. Barry Bonds — Like Mark McGwire, a fellow slugger implicated in the steroids fiasco, he tried to boost his Cooperstown candidacy by returning as a big-league batting coach. Despite better relations with fans and media members, the once-surly Bonds failed to fill out the paperwork and attend coaches meetings. The result was a him-or-me edict issued by mild-mannered Miami manager Don Mattingly. Guess which one of them is still there?

A rough start cost Fredi Gonzalez his Atlanta job Credit: Dan Schlossberg

A rough start cost Fredi Gonzalez his Atlanta job
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

8. Fredi Gonzalez — Being a bi-lingual manager does not always save your job. After Atlanta got off to a woeful 9-28 start, practically clinched the NL East cellar before Memorial Day, affable Fredi was fired and replaced by long-time organization man Brian Snitker. The Braves, who didn’t hit a lick before the change, reponded by topping .500 over the final two months and winning 20 of their last 30 games. Gonzalez is now third-base coach for the Marlins, a team he once managed.

9. TBS — The one-time SuperStation that brought Braves baseball to all 50 states failed to put a single decent announcer into its playoffs broadcast booth. The terrible trio of Ron Darling, Ernie Johnson, Jr. and Cal Ripken, Jr. were as rough on the ears as the Chicago Cubs were on NL Central opponents.

Elsewhere in baseball:

The Cleveland Indians pulled a coup when they replaced free-agent first baseman Mike Napoli with Edwin Encarnacion, whose power bat (42 HR for Toronto) should be a major boost to their attack . . .

Edwin Encarnacion's bat will help Cleveland Credit: Bill Menzel

Edwin Encarnacion’s bat will help Cleveland
Credit: Bill Menzel

Putting a stop to all trade rumors, the Braves rewarded Gold Glove centerfielder Ender Inciarte with a five-year contract extension two days before Christmas . . .

While the Washington Nationals still lack an established closer, their defense should be better with the acquisition of Adam Eat0n to play center field . . .

Writers voting for the Hall of Fame are giving many votes to alleged steroids abusers Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, according to early returns of balloting to be announcing January 18.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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