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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Neyer: Kissing the Rolaids Relief Award goodbye

In 2006…. the Rolaids brand was acquired… Johnson & Johnson drastically reduced its distribution of Rolaids-brand products, and the attendant promotion of those products… [Heath] Bell and Rafael Soriano, the winners in 2010, didn’t get their trophies. José Valverde and John Axford, the winners in 2011, didn’t get theirs, either…

The way the Players Association saw it, the Rolaids Relief Man Award was still being promoted on a corporate website in 2010 and ’11, so somebody owed four pitchers their trophies from those seasons….

Tuesday morning in Cleveland, Axford became the last known recipient of the Rolaids Relief Man Award…

While Jim Johnson did receive a bonus for finishing atop the (unofficial) Relief Man standings in 2012, neither he nor NL winner Craig Kimbrel received the hardware, nor are they likely to. The owners of the Rolaids brand didn’t maintain the Relief Man standings that year… Johnson told me last month, “I want my fireman’s helmet.”...

I agree with Jayson Stark: It’s time—actually well past time—for the BBWAA to introduce an award for relief pitchers. I wouldn’t call it the Jerome Holtzman Award, as Jayson would. It’s not a bad suggestion. I just think naming an award after a writer isn’t a great idea. I’ll suggest instead the Mariano Rivera Award for the American League, and the Trevor Hoffman Award for the National League…

POSTSCRIPT: Major League Baseball must have a spy somewhere. Before the above was published but after I submitted it, MLB announced two new awards for relief pitchers, named after ... Rivera and Hoffman.

The District Attorney Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, history, relievers, rob neyer, rolaids relief award

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4685407)
That is pretty funny that his suggestion happened in between the time of writing the article and it being published.
   2. depletion Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4685416)
Too bad about J&J and Rolaids. It seemed like a good pitch for their product. Tums appears to be expanding its grasp on the antacid shelf in both CVS and RiteAid. From personal experience the best product was the solid Di-Gel, almost unobtainable these days. Gelucil is the same stuff, but at about 60% higher price.
   3. The District Attorney Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4685425)
I love how thrilled Axford clearly is to receive the award, and the quote from Jim Johnson. If you grew up in that era and thought you might be a relief pitcher one day, you probably grew up wanting to win it.

Unfortunately, I don't think the award's heyday can be recaptured. It was a perfect max of sponsor and product... "relief" was right there in their endlessly repeated slogan, and then they promoted the award vigorously. MLB won't promote it, and no one will care. I agree that it would have been a lot better had the BBWAA stepped up. (I also prefer sportswriter voting to either statistical formulae or retired players voting.)
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4685428)
(I also prefer sportswriter voting to either statistical formulae or retired players voting.)


I'm not really seeing a much of a difference personally(Between writers/retired players) except that with writers doing the voting, you know it will get promoted. Definitely prefer either over a statistical formula.
   5. BDC Posted: April 13, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4685435)
It was a perfect max of sponsor and product

It certainly beat the Tucks Soothing Towelettes "Tuck-'em-Away" Award for fewest fumbles in an NFL season.
   6. JoeHova Posted: April 13, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4685467)
How much is shipping to Canada if the MLBPA wouldn't spring for it? Could it cost that much more than shipping it to Cleveland? Or did they make an intern drive it to Cleveland or something?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: April 13, 2014 at 09:59 PM (#4685698)
Or did they make an intern drive it to Cleveland or something?

And he had to pay for his own gas. Part of any well-rounded education of course.
   8. Cooper Nielson Posted: April 14, 2014 at 12:37 AM (#4685742)
I love how thrilled Axford clearly is to receive the award

I love just about everything about John Axford except, sometimes, his pitching. He seems like a lot of fun, and a legitimately good guy. He's easy to root for.
   9. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 14, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4685747)
They should call it the "I didn't make it as a starter for whatever reason, but can get 3-6 guys out most of the time when needed" award.
   10. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: April 14, 2014 at 02:12 AM (#4685753)
They should call it the "I didn't make it as a starter for whatever reason, but can get 3-6 guys out most of the time when needed" award.

A perfectly-fitting description of the freshly minted Mariano Rivera Award.
   11. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: April 14, 2014 at 07:23 AM (#4685769)
Definitely prefer either over a statistical formula.

I liked looking at the "Rolaids standings" in the paper. (Of course, I still miss the weekly averages they used to put in the Sunday paper. Sure, I could look up any stat I wanted 24/7 at the touch of a button, but it's just not the same...)
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4685865)
As I recall it, Rolaids was a fit in the 1970s because - and I know this is going to sound ridiculous to you youngsters - the best reliever often came into the game in a big spot, even if it was the 8th inning. So when this reliever arrived on the mound, fans were reaching for the Rolaids because it was a dangerous situation as they arrived (hence the even earlier "Fireman" tag).

Who needs a Rolaids when Rivera or Hoffman (or any competent closer) enter with a 5-2 lead to start the 9th?
   13. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4685878)
As I recall it, Rolaids was a fit in the 1970s because - and I know this is going to sound ridiculous to you youngsters - the best reliever often came into the game in a big spot, even if it was the 8th inning.So when this reliever arrived on the mound, fans were reaching for the Rolaids because it was a dangerous situation as they arrived (hence the even earlier "Fireman" tag).


My recollection is that Rolaids came on board because their advertising tagline at the time was "Rolaids Spells Relief", and they saw the award for "relief" pitchers as a way of cementing that concept in the public's mind.

   14. Monty Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4685898)
My recollection is that Rolaids came on board because their advertising tagline at the time was "Rolaids Spells Relief", and they saw the award for "relief" pitchers as a way of cementing that concept in the public's mind.


Concur. They had all those commercials where people gotasked to spell relief, and they'd say "R-O-L-A-I-D-S." They were trying to make their brand synonymous with "relief" so the relief pitching angle was ideal. Although now that I think about it, after seven innings of ballpark food, Rolaids is a pretty good idea.
   15. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:38 PM (#4686299)
Concur. They had all those commercials where people gotasked to spell relief,


Dear God, I read this as "They had all those commercials where people goatse'd."

Time to go to bed, RMc.

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