Vote for the ESPYs on ESPN.com
Awards show has seven categories with baseball nominees
The 2007 ESPYs will air July 15 on ESPN, and there are seven categories of nominees that you can vote on right now if you just can't get enough of this online balloting thing as a passionate and tech-savvy Major League Baseball fan.
Yes, there probably should be more baseball representation in a lot of categories that you will watch on that annual Sunday night awards show. Yes, you probably love LeBron James but would love even more to see a baseball superstar co-hosting, and it's hard to imagine a "Best Game" category on that show without baseball included. Who plays more games? But hey, we're all sports fans. So go do your baseball thing and help decide the winners.
Your baseball nominees for the ESPYs include:
Best Team: It was a good year for the University of Florida, which boasted the national champion in football and -- for the second year in a row -- basketball. David Eckstein is a Gator, and he might vote for them. But he also was MVP in the World Series for the Cardinals team that beat the Tigers in five games, and this is where you can show some love to the MLB representative at The ESPYs. Those Cards won the World Series with fewer regular season victories (83) than any team in history, but whatever it took, it was the first time a team won it all in its brand-new stadium since Babe Ruth's Yanks in 1923.
Best Breakthrough Athlete: Ryan Howard. The Phillies' first baseman followed up his Rookie of the Year season by shattering Mike Schmidt's club record for most homers in a single season. Howard finished with 58 -- 10 more than Schmidt -- and even won the Home Run Derby along the way.
Best Finish: The Dodgers trailed the Padres, 9-5, entering the ninth inning of a meeting last season. Then, just like that, it was tied on four consecutive homers: Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson. Nomar Garciaparra won it with a homer in the 10th. It was the first time a club went back-to-back-to-back-to-back since 1964.
Best Play: Endy Chavez -- filling in for a hobbling Cliff Floyd in left -- went up over the wall to rob Scott Rolen of a sixth-inning home run that would have given the Cardinals a 3-1 lead at Shea Stadium. Although St. Louis won, it was a highlight to remember for Mets fans.
Best Coach/Manager: Jim Leyland. The Tigers' skipper guided Detroit to a 24-game improvement over the 2005 season and to its first World Series since 1984, and he won American League Manager of the Year.
Best International Athlete: Albert Pujols. The Cardinals' first baseman batted .331 and hit 49 homers with 137 RBIs. It was yet another monster season for the superstar from the Dominican Republic.
Best Baseball Player: Derek Jeter of the Yankees, Justin Morneau and Johan Santana of the Twins, Howard and Pujols are your five choices from 2007. Remember all that debate over Jeter and David Ortiz for AL MVP, and how Morneau came out of nowhere to win it? Remember that Howard-Pujols debate? And how do you choose between one of those two Twins? It will be hard all over again.
Again, one of the things you notice often when voting at ESPN.com for the ESPYs is how many more categories you would love to vote on as a baseball fan. There are two NFL nominees (Peyton Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson) in Best Male Athlete consideration, but no baseball players. Maybe you will want to give some love to a different kind of ballplayer, Taryne Mowatt, who pitched every inning in taking the University of Arizona to the NCAA softball championship. She is also nominated for Best Female College Athlete.
Best Moment, Best Championship Performance and Best Record-Breaking Performance? Oh, we definitely could come up with some doozies. In a marathon baseball season, how could you pick just one moment, one performance, one record-smasher? Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter? Magglio Ordonez's walk-off blast to win a pennant for Detroit, or Eckstein's Fall Classic performance? Trevor Hoffman breaking Lee Smith's career saves record? Alas, none of those three categories has a baseball nominee. To quote The Eagles: "I Can't Tell You Why." If you want to vote for those, you have to go with other sports. And that's OK. We're sports fans.
Time to have some more voting fun. You can't get enough of that these days.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.