The Truth of Consequences Award: To former National League umpire Dave Pallone, whose crusade for public acceptance of his homosexuality has included a book ("Behind the Mask"), months on the talk-show circuit and, most recently, an appearance last week on "To Tell the Truth." The show is a revival of one of television's most famous game shows, in which three contestants claim to be the same person. A panel of celebrities quiz them in an attempt to discern which one is actually the real McCoy -- or in this case, Pallone. Of course, he fooled everyone on the panel, which probably should come as no surprise to all the people he fooled in the National League.
The Kirk the Jerk Award: Named after Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson, whose boorish personality has been the stuff of legend since his college football days at Michigan State University, this award could have gone to any number of solid candidates. Gibson ended up winning it himself, however, for a July tirade in manager Tommy Lasorda's office that almost left the Dodgers without a general manager. Gibson stalked GM Fred Claire around the office for several minutes during an angry confrontation over Gibson's public demand to be traded. No trade would be forthcoming, so Gibson can become a free agent and look for a new general manager to pick on.
Nasty Boy of the Year Award: To Cincinnati Reds reliever Rob Dibble, who endeared himself to San Francisco Giants fans this year when he compared them to mutants from a nuclear explosion. This had to come as a great shock to Bay area residents, many of whom were understandably surprised that Dibble could complete an intelligible sentence, much less make reference to a subject as sophisticated as genetics. But it turned out that Dibble has been doing his homework. He spends nearly every Saturday morning in front of the television, studying the effects of nuclear contamination on turtles.
The Epicurean Medal of Merit: To Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Bell, who refused to talk to reporters after a game in Baltimore because -- yes, he really said this -- there weren't any good places in town to get Mexican food. Though Bell isn't the first person to bemoan the shortage of authentic Mexican cuisine in the Baltimore area (Taco Bell doesn't count), it did not seem to be a legitimate reason to withhold comment on the day's game.
The Home Shopping Club Undistinguished Service Award: To Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and all the other high-profile athletes who have made appearances on the various cable television merchandise shows to hawk authentic baseball memorabilia. The card-show circuit is one thing, but it borders on embarrassing to see Hall of Fame-caliber athletes turned into electronic door-to-door salesmen. Now what was that phone number again?
The Conspicuous Consumption Award: To the California Angels, who spent $16 million to sign Mark Langston even though they already had five solid starting pitchers. Sure, they eventually unloaded Mike Witt in that strange trade that forced them to sign Dave Winfield to an expensive contract extension, but that only increased the expenditure to more than $20 million for a pitcher who ranked among the league's top losers and an outfielder who was coming off a serious back injury. The Angels still are looking for a coherent organizational strategy, as evidenced by the decision this week to put baseball newcomer Richard Brown in charge of the entire operation.
Asleep at the Wheel Award: To New York Mets pitcher David Cone, who was so busy arguing an umpiring decision earlier this season that he held the ball while two runners crossed home plate.