Awards Season, Auditions

Howdy everyone…

Grapefruit League games begin Saturday for the Houston Astros, so things will really start heating up for the 2012 season then. Soon high school baseball will be played at RedHawks Field at Bricktown, and before you know it Opening Night will be here. Fewer than 18 seats are still available in the second-floor club section at the ballpark, a section that sold out for the season last year. Get those season, partial season and group seats now at (405) 218-1000 or visit www.okcredhawks.com.

As always, if you have any questions or ideas leave a comment below or email me at jp.shadrick@okcredhawks.com or hit me on Twitter: @okcredhawksjp.

–J.P.

The Coopers ©

Last night the 2012 Academy Awards were presented to the best and brightest in the motion picture industry in Hollywood, California.

In other news, last night was also “Hand in Blender” night at the Shadrick apartment, so I was otherwise occupied and did not watch the Oscars. I will have interest in the Academy Awards when Uma Thurman invites me as her date.

But the entire buzz surrounding Oscar weekend led me to the idea of creating some awards from the 2011 season. These awards are based loosely on Oscars categories, though we will only present a few. I also made up some others. Only connections to the 2011 RedHawks or Pacific Coast League were eligible, and I was the only person on the selection committee. I am also the independent accounting firm that tabulated the singular vote for these fictitious awards.

Artist's (me) representation of the "Coopers" statuette. Revisions might be necessary.

I present to you the 2011 “Coopers.”

Cooper Winner, Best Director: Pitching Coach Burt Hooton

–Best Director: Pitching Coach Burt Hooton. Pitching was the true strength of the 2011 RedHawks, and Pitching Coach Burt Hooton won the Best Director award for keeping the staff going throughout a long, hot summer. The RedHawks finished fifth in the Pacific Coast League in team ERA (4.63), 5th-lowest walk total (506) and 3rd-lowest home run total (135) in the circuit. A total of 38 different players pitched for the RedHawks in the 2011 season in a year full of routine changes to and from Houston. Hooton is known throughout the Astros organization as a doctor for ailing deliveries and mindsets. His biggest success this season was the late success of J.A. Happ, who struggled with Houston and came to Oklahoma City to get back on track. He continued to battle some health issues and did not even go to a knee when he was hit in the face with a fly ball during batting practice early in the year. Even with all that, his effort is always on his pitching staff and how they can improve to help the Astros. This good ol’ tough Texan is a landslide winner in this category.

–Best Actor in an Offensive Role: Anderson Hernandez for his role in a 30-game hitting streak. Hernandez put together a 30-game hitting streak, the longest in RedHawks history (1998-present) and eighth-longest in Pacific Coast League history (Joe DiMaggio, 61 in 1933). These streaks do not come often, and certainly are more difficult later in the season. Hernandez hit in 30 straight games in the heat of August, batting .385 (50×130) from August 2 through September 2. The Hernandez streak, with a few other factors, contributed to an 18-12 record for OKC in the month of August, tied for the second best record in the league during the month.

Other nominees: Koby Clemens for his role in two home runs in one inning at Round Rock; Tommy Manzella hitting for the cycle; Drew Locke in his monster series at Tucson in August.

–Best Actor in a Pitching Role: Andy Van Hekken for his role as the staff ace. Veteran left-hander Andy Van Hekken took the pitching staff on his shoulders for the better part of 2011, working in a number of different pitching situations. He started the season as the RedHawks closer, then took more relief innings and later became the top starter on the club. Van Hekken finished second in the PCL in ERA (3.40), finishing behind Omaha’s Luis Mendoza (2.18). Quiet, yet confident clubhouse leader led by example and by working his tail off. Easy decision for this award.

Cooper Winner, Best Supporting Actor: Wesley Wright

–Best Supporting Actor: Wesley Wright for his role as emergency starter. “Lil’ Bama” was one of the most important pieces in the RedHawks bullpen in 2011, serving as emergency starter in doubleheaders and eating innings in relief roles. Durable left-hander’s most impressive performance might have come June 14 in game one of a doubleheader at home against Albuquerque. Ten minutes before first pitch, Wright had just bit into a honey-oat bar in the bullpen when scheduled starter Douglas Arguello came down with pain during his pre-game bullpen session. Wright put down the food, picked up the glove, got hot in a hurry and allowed one hit in four shutout innings with two walks and three punchouts. In three baserunners, none got past first base. The RedHawks ended up winning the game 2-0, with reliever Danny Meszaros picking up the win. Wesley Wright saved the ‘Hawks bullpen a number of times in 2011, but this performance topped them all.

Other nominees: David Carpenter for his 19 scoreless innings; J.R. Towles for 11 HBP in only 35 games; J.B. Shuck for 56 BB and only 30 SO and a .398 OBP.

–Best Actress in a Leading Role: No winner named. No comment.

–Best Foreign Language Film: Luis Durango, Panama. Luis Durango llegó a los Astros en un reclamo de la renuncia de los Padres, bateo de.273 y robar 18 bases en 49 partidos con la ciudad de Oklahoma. Jardinero panameño nacido vio tiempo con Houston así como finales de la temporada. El no hablaba inglés.

Otros nominados: Douglas Arguello, Nicaragua; Ryan Rowland-Smith, Australia.

–Lifetime Achievement Award: Robinson Cancel, 35 years of age. The 35-year-old catcher still had the fire to play in Spring Training last year, looking for a job at camp in Kissimmee and coming away with a back-up spot in OKC. The job turned into a starting role when Carlos Corporan broke his hand. Later Cancel made the Houston roster when Humberto Quintero was injured on a play at home plate. To still battle every day (.299 average) with a larger-than-normal frame and aging body, Robinson is quite deserving of this award. He also stole home one time this year. Landslide win.

Cooper Winner, Game of the Year: May 21, 2011 at Sacramento's Raley Field. Always an early arriving crowd and electric environment.

–Game of the Year: May 21, 2011 at Sacramento.The RedHawks lost the Game of the Year in 16 innings, but it was the most entertaining game of the 2011 season. The teams were tied at 1-1 after nine innings, and continued tied until the 13th inning when a bases loaded walk from Brandon Barnes drove in the go-ahead run for OKC. In the bottom of the 13th, with two out and two strikes, Sacramento’s Josh Donaldson hit a Fernando Abad change-up onto the clubhouse roof in left-centerfield for a 2-2 score. The game moved along to the 16th inning when Eric Sogard singled in the game-winning run off the only remaining available RedHawks pitcher Andy Van Hekken. The game lasted five hours and four minutes, ending at 12:23 a.m. PT. That’s 2:23 a.m. CT. When the bars in California are closing during the walk back to the hotel, you know it is a long night. If you were listening back in OKC, thanks again.

OFF-FIELD CATEGORIES

Just like the Grammys and Oscars, these categories might not make the television portion of the awards show…

Cooper Winner, Best Road Hotel Swimming Pool: Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

–Best Road Hotel Swimming Pool: Golden Nugget, Las Vegas. I never went swimming in the pool at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, but simple math: shark tank+slide going through it+waterfall off the top=easy winner.

Cooper Winner, Best Road Trip Meal: Surf and Turf Po-Boy, Parkway Bakery and Tavern, New Orleans, La.

Best Road Trip Meal: Surf and Turf Po-Boy, Parkway Bakery and Tavern, New Orleans, La. In the most hotly contested category of the Coopers, Best Road Trip Meal goes to the Surf and Turf Po-Boy at Parkway in New Orleans. Of course, New Orleans had the highest total of nominees and the best chance of winning, as their food is about the best on the planet. The “surf” part is fried jumbo Gulf shrimp, and the “turf” is the roast beef debris, the chips of beef at the bottom of the pan. Each is good and worthy of a nomination on its own, but together they are nearly unbeatable. In the closest vote of them all, oysters and Dixie beer at Felix’s in New Orleans finished as runner-up.

Cooper Runner-Up, Best Road Trip Meal: Oysters and Dixie Beer, Felix's Seafood, New Orleans, La.

Best Road Trip Meal was the category with the most nominees:

  • Rendevous ribs, Memphis;
  • Blue Plate catfish and blackberry cobbler, Memphis;
  • Range Café burrito and peach pie, Albuquerque;
  • Hog Heaven Smoked Turkey BBQ sandwich, Nashville;
  • Du-Par’s pancakes, Golden Gate Casino, Las Vegas;
  • Felix’s oysters and Dixie Beer, New Orleans;
  • Café du Monde beignets, New Orleans;
  • Parkway surf and turf po-boy, New Orleans;
  • Mother’s debris po-boy, New Orleans;
  • fish and chips, Sacramento;
  • Threadgill’s Chicken Fried Steak, Austin.

Cooper Winner, Best Day-Off Road City: New Orleans, Louisiana

–Best Day-Off Road City: New Orleans, La. There is no better morning stroll in the league than walking from the hotel in the Central Business District to the Cafe du Monde right across from Jackson Square, then walking along the Moon Walk on the Mississippi River levee back past the aquarium to the hotel. With a cup of coffee and chickory and a Padron 5000 maduro cigar during that walk, you cannot have a bad day. Riverboats splash in the channel, dodging the big tankers as they head toward the delta. By the minute, gullable tourists still fall for the old NOLA line, “I bet you I can tell you where you got them shoes…” When you find a better place for a day off on the road, I’ll always one-up you with New Orleans.

Congrats to the winners, but don’t expect a trophy in the mail. They do not exist.

National Anthem Auditions Closed

The RedHawks have announced that all 200 audition slots for National Anthem Tryouts on Saturday, March 10 have been booked. Standby auditions will be available on a first-come, first-served basis if time permits on the day of the event. The auditions will be held at Penn Square Mall. For more information, call (405) 218-1000 or email info@okcredhawks.com.

Also, I had another chance to guest-host “All Access” on Wednesday February 22 on AM 1340 The Game in OKC. Thanks to PCL President Branch Rickey, Astros.com and MLB.com writer Brian McTaggart and Washington Nationals TV broadcaster Bob Carpenter for joining me on the program.

Catch you next week!

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