Around this time last year, the Right Honourable Brian, Lord Reinhart, W.B.E. &c. laid before the Commentariat and consortium the prospect and duty of electing the 2015 Banknotes Industries MVP. Perhaps he shall raise the banner again in 2016; though as he is at present in repose, bare-chested and slathered with a thick, red wine mushroom sauce highlighted with hints of honey dijon, the haste with which he is at leisure to address said task is decidedly limited. In the spirit of golden gloves and silver slugs, we shall entertain a metaphorical writerly mound visit and hand out some lesser hardware to stall.
Charlie Brown’s baseball team lost almost every game it played. Its few victories tended to coincide with the manager’s absence, driving the dagger of reality ever deeper into the poor lad’s round heart. The action of the contests was often abstract — scenes out of time, the context immaterial to the understanding, the conclusion inevitable. Charlie Brown’s team was going to lose; the play was a failure; the world is merciless. In this sunny spirit we set forth to cast new awards from old tunes, by which to recognize players, people of baseball, moments or events, or anything we decide is fitting.
The Patty and Shermy Award
Despite being the first two characters to ever appear in a Peanuts foreground, and the first to speak in the comic’s life, young Charlie Brown’s oldest friends and tormentors had begun to fade from the panel before the first age was concluded, to be ultimately replaced by stronger and more memorable individuals. And yet, they were everywhere at the beginning; there should not have been a life of Charlie Brown — or more significantly for our purposes, a baseball team of Charlie Brown — without them. Shermy, elder than the star and greater of muscle, served typically as first baseman, presumably providing a bat of some pop but little reliability. Patty (not the “Peppermint” variety), though early on making spot appearances at backstop (as did Charlie Brown himself on occasion), ceded that role to the stable game-caller Schroeder when he came of age, and was herself shifted to be among the rotating ladies of the outfield, with Lucy, Violet, and Frieda. Her on-field performance was rarely noteworthy.
The Patty and Shermy award shall be granted to that subject who, once so striking and potent as to seem irreplaceable, in a flash became nothing and was forgotten: the dashing rookie who never develops, the sudden All-Star whose peak season turns out not to have been a breakout but a fluke, the would-be dynasty that never achieves a crown.
The Snoopy Award
Snoopy began as rather the neighborhood’s dog, beholden to no one person, but came into his fame as the generally faithful hound of Charlie Brown. On the diamond, the slick-fielding shortstop was in numerous instances singled out as the team’s “only good player,” possessing a solid offensive game to augment his sterling defense. And yet, Snoopy did not give a damn. If he was hungry, he set down the glove and raised up the food bowl, and there was no moving him to his place in the alignment but that he had been fed. His nonchalance was legendary; his intensity came only in spurts, sometimes to make a difference, sometimes just to impress. Winning was nice; losing was little less; baseball was just something to fill the time between eating, sleeping, and flying a fighter plane.
The Snoopy award shall be granted to that subject, rare though it is, who is both the lone light on a dim club, and whose commitment to the team, the game, to anything is at best fleeting and at worst wholly wanting: the overpaid All-Star on a cellar-dweller; the mercenary who does not chase pennants or glory, but only pursues the chase, itself.
The “Peppermint” Patty Award
Rough-and-tumble Patty Reichardt arrived on the scene somewhat later than much of the core cast, and like so many others proved to be better than Charlie Brown at the things he loved. Though she struggled academically, “Peppermint” Patty was a standout athlete. She fielded a rival team to Charlie Brown’s — in the gentlest sense of rivalry — which featured fellow top-performer Franklin, and which regularly whalloped the home side. Yet it was a brutality without malice, with ruth: the cheerful demolisher of Charlie Brown’s squad was herself “Chuck’s” strongest supporter, and genuinely sought to help him improve, even as the competitor in her ground his hopes into the dirt.
The “Peppermint” Patty award shall be granted to that subject who is on the upside of a rivalry, and yet whom rival players and fans cannot help but respect — even like — for the “Peppermint” Patty award winner is simply better than the losers, better than the fans could be, better at this thing they do.
The Charlie Brown Award
Charlie Brown, player-manager of the worst team in town, was bad at baseball. He regularly gave up hits that knocked him silly; he blew plays in the field; he could accomplish little at the plate. Yet he wanted so very much to win, to lift up the team, to earn of others their favor, their respect, their love. And so he kept coming back, game after game, year after year, loss after loss, each spring restored to the throne of hope. The world is merciless, but Charlie Brown, killed but not defeated, though daunted and relenting, was ever returning. Who suffers eternally has lost, but never loses.
Charlie Brown award potentials, like Joe Shlabotniks, tend not to last at the major league level. A team might fail for a century or more — perhaps they could compete for a nomination — but even such curses as that come to an end. Who that we could recognize as the worst continues to appear every season? Maybe there is no one worthy of the Charlie Brown award.
Perhaps the floor is opened to nominations, doubtful though we are of response or anyone to respond. Perhaps I only vex your ghosts. Perhaps this stirring of quills shall draw WBE from the shadows to delight us with the quest for BNI MVP, or perhaps that task shall fall to another this time around. Good grief, Banknotariate.