Napoli's walk-off among Boston's GIBBY nominees
BOSTON -- When you look back at the 2014 Red Sox highlight reel, perhaps the play that stands out the most was on June 12, when Jackie Bradley Jr. banged against the wall in center to make a great catch and then fired a bullet all the way back to first base to double off the Indians' Mike Aviles.
That is one of five Red Sox moments captured on video -- ranging from the spectacular to the quirky to the thrilling -- to be nominated for a 2014 MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award.
Bradley's catch-and-throw is one of the nominees in the top play category.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2014 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 25 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, bounceback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top regular-season play, outfield throw, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment, postseason storyline, postseason walk-off and postseason play. Fans can watch these and more by accessing MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories, none of which is restricted to individual league affiliation. That's how you know the GIBBYs consider the best of the best.
All 30 clubs are represented among the award candidates, a fact many consider to be a testament to the competitive balance around the game.
Fans can vote as many times as they want through Nov. 21 at 11:59 p.m. ET by visiting mlb.com/gibbys, and winners will be announced live on the MLB Network and MLB.com on Dec. 6.
With so much of the Red Sox's emphasis being placed on a youth movement in '14, it's only fitting that a second GIBBY nominee -- this one for an oddity -- is a play involving Mookie Betts.
In a game against the White Sox on July 9, Betts not only beat out an infield hit on a grounder into the shortstop hole, but he alertly took off for second and stretched it into a double when he realized nobody was covering.
In the walk-off department, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli have been nominated for their back-to-back blows in the 10th that beat the Twins on June 18. Down by a run, Ortiz ripped one down the right-field line to tie the game. Next came Napoli, who sent everybody home with a blast over the wall in center.
The Red Sox were nominated twice for Cut4 topics.
The first is one of the most poignant fan interactions you'll ever see between children. In a game played at Fenway Park on Sept. 5, Christian Vazquez hit a one-hop foul ball that the ball girl caught and then tossed to a 12-year-old boy sitting in the front row. Usually the story would end there. But in this case, the boy generously handed the ball to a girl sitting one row behind him.
Red Sox broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy thought so much of the gesture that they had sideline reporter Gary Striewski interview the boy on camera and present him with a baseball.
Boston's final nominee for a GIBBY occurred on May 28, and it brought back great memories.
As the Red Sox celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their fabled 2004 team, Manny Ramirez got set to throw the ceremonial first pitch to Jason Varitek. But Johnny Damon intercepted it, diving across the grass for emphasis. It was a reversal from a game in July of '04, when Ramirez, playing left field, made a diving catch on a cutoff throw by Damon, allowing the Orioles to get an inside-the-park home run.
Several categories -- Play, Oddity, Walk-Off and Cut4 Topic -- opened balloting with at least one nominee per club. After a week of voting, the four lists were trimmed to 10 finalists per group by a panel.