Your 2007 Booth Baseball Awards winners are ...

As the game of the supreme individualist defined by the sanctity of one’s statistics, baseball takes the baubles dispensed at the end of every season mighty seriously. Hence the fanfare, which is unmatched elsewhere in sport, and the inevitable controversy, which can last for decades.

It’s a mossy and sometimes peculiar custom, minted by this often mossy and peculiar game. Keep in mind the first MVP citations -- then called “The Chalmers Award,” funded by a fancy and self-promoting automobile manufacturer -- were handed out 17 years before anyone ever dreamed of an Academy Award, well before anyone ever spoke in a movie for that matter. It’s all about “individual honors” which are more precious in baseball than other games. There are players who would rather win a batting title than a World Series. Many of them played for the Red Sox.

But we digress. In these final hours of the long, long season when the contenders and pretenders are grasping for playoff berths, the chaps who have a shot at the really big stuff, the postseason hardware, are lining up. Here’s a rundown of the nominees.

Executive of the Year

In the American League it’s another Athens-Sparta clash. Few GMs have had a more complex task than Brian Cashman, obliged to re-invent the House of Steinbrenner and radically overhaul its mindset while not missing a beat or a playoff. Near impossible, but he’s on the verge of doing it. It can also be argued that the lad in Boston deserves the nod again for his aggressive re-stocking of a team that missed the playoffs a year ago. If the Yankees stumble at the wire, Theo wins by default.

In the National League, Josh Byrnes -- Epstein’s ex-aide de camp -- is the odds on favorite for having done such a swift makeover in Arizona.

Manager of the Year

It’s axiomatic that Messrs. Francona in Boston and Torre in New York will never again win this citation. Their payrolls, so widely viewed as obscene, make it more a question of how dare they be excused for not making the postseason, at a minimum. This may be unfair, especially to Torre who had to endure oddly complex stresses with a gun at his head again this year while in Francona’s behalf it’s decidedly true that managing in Boston will never be a day at the beach. Neither, however, gets my vote. Jim Leyland in Detroit won’t repeat. So it will probably be Mike Scioscia out in Anaheim although he’s accomplished no more than was widely expected. A better choice is Cleveland’s Eric Wedge.

In the NL, it’s between either the D’backs Bob Melvin or the Padres’ Bud Black depending on who wins the west. The Brewers’ Ned Yost will get votes. The Phils Charlie Manuel deserves them. The Cubs’ Lou Piniella always attracts them. Contrariness compels me to pull for the Dodgers’ Grady Little.

Rookie of the Year

The field is extraordinary in both leagues although some of the very best including Boston’s Ellsbury and Buchholz, New York’s Chamberlain and Hughes, and Detroit’s Maybin came up too late to qualify this year while accruing enough appearances to make them ineligible next year. This is a recurring pattern. Tampa’s BJ Upton and Jimmie Shields, Anaheim’s Howie Kendrick, and Pittsburgh’s Tom Gorzelanny, among others, should be favorites for this year’s awards. They’re the best of the best. But late-season call-ups last season make them ineligible. That’s not fair. The rules for defining rookie status should be changed.

Also in dispute are the rules for international imports. Four years ago when he was far and away the best new player in the Majors, the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui was denied the rookie prize on the grounds he’d been a seasoned star in Japan. The award went instead to a flash in the pan Royals shortstop now long gone. So how now can either Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima be eligible? The answer is, “No Way”!

And they won’t be; not in these calculations. Favorites in the AL are Boston’s impish Dustin Pedroia, Tampa’s Delmon Young, and KC’s Joakim Soria maybe in that order. In the NL Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado’s sensational 22 year old shortstop, is the hot pick followed by Milwaukee’s slugging third baseman, Ryan Braun, Houston’s Hunter Pence, and LA’s James Loney. It’s a watershed time for young talent in both leagues.

Comeback of the Year

An award based mainly on sentiment but a personal favorite. The runaway AL winner is Carlos Pena, out of Haverhill and Northeastern University. One year ago Pena was on the rocks having been successively dumped by the Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox. Today he ranks second only to the mighty A-Rod in homers having fully blossomed in Tampa. It’s quite a story.

Two months ago Josh Hamilton, reborn with the Reds after years of failed promise and drug problems, would also have been a landslide winner but he’s slipped notably of late. The Cards’ Rick Ankiel was another Cinderella story thriving as recently as last week. Then came revelations he’s been messing with HGH or some such witches’ brew. An interesting choice might be Junior Griffey who discovered new bounce in his step this season, although even at his worst Junior was never in oblivion.

Cy Young

In the AL, it’s a dandy race to the wire with the Indians C.C. Sabathia, the Red Sox Josh Beckett, and the Yankees Chien-Ming Wang all brinking on 20 wins and carrying their teams on their bloody backs with classical flair. Sabathia gets the very slight edge here. Only a heartbeat off the pace are Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Anaheim’s pair of horses, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar. The Twins Johan Santana doesn’t win again but still contends. So does -- save for injuries -- the Jays Roy Halladay. Dan Harren of the also-ran A’s may be the best of the lot. Or maybe it’s Eric Bedard of the even worse Orioles? They are all so young and brilliant. Suddenly, great pitching abounds. It’s just terrific.

In the NL, where the flowering of the art form is not quite so pronounced, odds-on choice is the Padres’ Jake Peavy who has the game’s best pitching numbers. Laboring for a lousy team, the Astro’s Roy Oswalt deserves consideration as do the Braves Tim Hudson, the Dodgers Brad Penny and the Phils Cole Hamels.

MVP -- AL

By the universal consent of humankind it is Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees by an FDR-size landslide, although this isn’t entirely fair. In a normal year many would contend.

As of the writing, Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez is hitting .354 with 121 RBI and many consider Carlos Guillen even more indispensable to the Tigers, with Curtis Granderson close behind. A-Rod’s own teammate, the estimable Jorge Posada, is a catcher hitting .337. The dazzling Ichiro of the Mariners has smote 200 hits for the seventh straight year, an achievement matched only by ‘‘Wee Willie’’ Keeler and Wade Boggs. Vladimir Guerrero has his usual MVP numbers while deferential nods are due Mike Lowell of the Red Sox and Orlando Cabrera, most consistent mainstays of the league’s two winningest teams. In a normal year, David Ortiz who should finish hitting roughly .320 with 30 homers and 120 ribbies would contend. This year, he’ll be lucky to finish in the top 10.

So much for all that. The only question remains. Does A-Rod win unanimously? If the Yankees prevail, the answer is “Yes.” The last time we’ve seen a performance like this was Yaz in ’67.

MVP -- NL

There seems growing determination to hand the thing to Albert Pujols of the Cards. It’s the “when in doubt give the prize to the guy who hits all the homers” thesis at work, quite as usual. But there are potentially more interesting choices than Pujols or other swarthy young sluggers like the Phils’ Ryan Howard or the Brewers’ Prince Fielder. For my money, either of the Mets’ marvelous young sparkplugs, Jose Reyes or David Wright, are better picks. Though if this award were for the league’s very best player it would go to the stunning Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins, whom your Red Sox so charitably gave away.

The envelopes, please!

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...