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07/17/08 11:39 AM ET
Welcome to the Show: Toby winners named
Newbie honors fantasy baseball's best and worst from exciting first half
Ryan Dempster earned Toby Mergler's respect after a first half in which he went 10-4 with a 3.25 ERA. (AP)


Welcome to the Tobys.

I'm your host and resident narcissist, Toby Mergler.

We are here tonight to recap a few of the highlights from the season's first half by honoring fantasy baseball players with fictitious awards. The players don't know they're nominated, the judges are completely biased and most of the public will never know/care who wins. We might as well have called these awards the Grammys!

So without further ado, let's start handing out the hardware:

"Rock n' Jock" 8-Ball Award for greatest equalizer

This award celebrates the amazing mid-'90s softball contest held annually on MTV. It was the only place where you could see David Justice hit a walk-off eight-run homer off a skirt-wearing Roger McDowell while Dan Cortese and Dean Cain admired each other's hair. Other than my dreams, of course.

Winner -- injuries: Seems like many leagues have just been wars of attrition this year as star players have been dropping left and right. As a result, an owner who has been lucky with injuries has been able to compete against virtually any well-drafted team. Unfortunately for me, my team has been neither ,and my roster has only nine of its original 21 players remaining. Bad times.

Chris Snyder Award for most devastating injury

The gruesome Snyder injury doesn't need to be recapped here, but (almost) needless to say, it made men nationwide extremely uncomfortable. As a side note, it's a tough year in this category when anal fissures aren't good enough to get the award named after you. Maybe next year, Kaz Matsui.

Winner -- David Ortiz: While his wrist injury wasn't nearly as cringe-inducing, its effects were no less devastating to my team. He was finally resembling the Papi of old with three homers, five RBIs and six runs scored in the week before the injury. I've struggled in those categories mightily ever since. Here's hoping that Ortiz (and Snyder) both come back strong in the second half.

"Point Break" Award for most enjoyable/terrible player

"Point Break" is my all-time favorite enjoyable/terrible movie. It's terrific in some moments (like in the chase scene that features Swayze lying in wait for Keanu and then inexplicably throwing a dog at him) but just awful in others ("I am an EFF-BEEE-EYEE Agent!!!"). Either way, I may complain about some parts, but deep down, I love every second of that movie.

Winner -- Juan Pierre: When he's on-base, he's a lot of fun to watch. Everyone in the stadium knows he's going to run, creating several moments of pure excitement. But when he's at the plate or in the field, he's a chore to root for. His slap-and-sprint style doesn't exactly put fans in their seats, as he lacks power just like the new iPhone batteries. But I loved owning him anyways since he single-handedly gave me a chance to win steals every week. I hope he comes back soon.

Britney Spears Award for Worst Crush Gone Wrong

Like all young red-blooded American males, I was a big fan of Britney when I was in college. Having watched her downward spiral over the last couple years, it's safe to say my affections were rather misplaced.

Winner -- Ryan Zimmerman: In a way, this award is unfair since he did get hurt. But even before the injury, he wasn't living up to his potential. Like Britney, he hit the scene with a big splash (the Opening Night walk-off) and stole my heart, inspiring me to write a whole album of power ballads entitled "Songs that May Beget a Restraining Order."

After that, his numbers (.257 AVG, 7 HR, 26 RBIs over nearly 2 months) were decidedly average, but I was blinded by my man-crush for him. On the brink of Zim's return, I'm ashamed to admit I'm thinking about picking him back up. Even if I don't, I sure hope his comeback goes better than Britney's.

"The Hammer" Award for most pleasant surprise

For those of you who haven't heard of it yet, do yourself a favor and rent this movie. It features Adam Carolla, which initially drew a harsh reaction from my girlfriend Mary. But after sitting through it, Mary turned to me and pronounced it "surprisingly not terrible." That's ringing praise from her, and it's my favorite comedy of the year by far.

Winner -- Zack Greinke: Like "The Hammer," Greinke wasn't well known outside of the industry prior to the season. But he's turned out to be a strong addition to my team, however, ringing up a healthy 7.5 K/9 rate and earning the No. 25 spot on the midseason re-rankings of starting pitchers. Not bad for a guy I initially picked up because I wanted to make more "Saved by the Bell" jokes.

"Bleeding Love" Award for most unexplained popularity

You know those songs you hear from the '80's that you can't figure out how they were so popular? Apparently they're back and worse than ever. History will not be kind to this phenomenon.

Winner -- Curtis Granderson: OK, somebody help me out here. He's on pace to finish with something like a .295 average, 20 homers, 65 RBIs, 95 runs and 15 steals. These are useful numbers for sure, but worthy of the No. 11 outfielder re-ranking? He's one of the staples of my team, so I hope I'm missing something. But what is it?

Rodney Dangerfield Award for no respect

This one-liner wizard constantly complained about a lack of respect, but he was one of the most beloved men in Hollywood when he passed. If nothing else, he is probably the most-quoted man in history on the golf course thanks to "Caddyshack" (competing only with Bill Murray). So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Winner -- Ryan Dempster: If I told you before the season that you'd be able to grab a Top 12 starter off the wire as late as May, would you have been interested? Dempster has been just that so far this season, yet no one gives him any credit. Meanwhile, he continues to churn out quality starts. "Experts" may not love his walk rate, but guys like me sometimes benefit big time from not knowing any better.

Indiana Jones Award for biggest disappointment

If you've seen this movie, this award needs no explanation. It would take me 12,000 words to properly express my disappointment in this film, so let's just move on.

Winner -- Aaron Harang: Harang was drafted to anchor my pitching staff, and he lived up to his ace billing early in the year. Then, just like "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," he fell apart about midway through the first half. Luckily, I have more faith in Harang's ability to bounce back (but congrats all the same to Dr. Jones for uncovering every civilization in history that lived inside of walls -- one definitely wasn't enough).

Robert Downey, Jr. Award for outstanding performance

Downey, who was once a cast member of renowned action shows "Saturday Night Live" and "Ally McBeal," was an unlikely choice to star in a big-budget superhero blockbuster. But somehow, he dominated "Iron Man" and is now the current king of Hollywood.

Winner -- Ian Kinsler: With an average draft position in the high 70s, Kinsler is performing way above and beyond expectations. But the All-Star second baseman has been a Top 5 performer halfway through the season and shows no signs of slumping. I now find myself tuning into almost every Rangers game since he's such a joy to watch. He's the only reason my team is still in playoff contention, and if that's not worthy of a Toby, I don't know what is.

Thanks for attending the ceremony. You have five minutes to leave before I sic the dogs on you. See you next week!

League Standings

Rk. Team Record GB
1. Ankiel and Associates (Sully) 85-56-9 --
2. Toms River East (Alex) 80-57-13 3
3. Desert Justice (John) 80-65-5 7
4. Client # Slevin (CuJo) 73-69-8 12.5
5. [Censored] (Sal) 71-70-9 14
6. Salary Cap Dream (Danny) 70-73-7 16
7. Hey Rook Nice Piece (Toby) 68-74-8 17.5
8. A-Rod = Applebees (Adam) 64-75-11 20
9. Chuck Cecil Disciples (Peter) 57-79-14 25.5
10. D. Kolb and the Choke Artists (Mad Cat) 56-86-8 29.5

Toby Mergler is a fantasy contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.