UFLB Announces Year End Player Awards
The MLB award season starts next month, a two-week celebration ending with the reveal of the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Today, Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball announced the year-end player awards that they will be preparing to hand out at this time next year following their inaugural season. The regular season and playoff champion awards were unveiled last week with the introduction of the official UFLB Rulebook. The playoff trophy will be named the Zilliqa Cup in honour of the blockchain that Ultimate Franchise Fantasy Sports is built upon. The franchise topping the regular season standings will receive the Branch Rickey Award, paying tribute to the man who gave Jackie Robinson the opportunity to break the colour barrier in baseball. “Being on the Zilliqa blockchain has really been a game-changer for us,” said Dean Millard, Head of Baseball Operations for UFF Sports. “There are so many exciting times ahead when it comes to our relationship with Zilliqa, and I can’t wait to share them all as they develop.
“As for the Branch Rickey Award, he was a man ahead of his time. Obviously, he helped Jackie Robinson change baseball forever and right a terrible wrong, but he also pioneered the minor leagues and was very much into stats. He would be called a ‘fancy stat’ or ‘advanced stat nerd’ in today’s game,” laughed Millard, referring to how advanced statistics have revolutionized the sport of baseball over the years. “I think it’s fitting that an award in such an innovative and ahead of its time league like ours is named after a person who had those qualities, among many others.” The Branch Rickey Award will go to the franchise with the most points accumulated during the regular season. As for individual player awards, the league announced the following award names.
“What we tried to do with these awards is reach as many different eras as we could. Going all the way back to 1896 with Connie Mack for the Manager of the Year and as recent as Mariano Rivera for the top Reliever,” said Millard, who will also serve as Commissioner of UFLB. “We also wanted to expand beyond MLB and, thanks to the suggestion from Matt Soren (UFLB Director of Competition), we went with Josh Gibson to represent the top hitter, as he was one of the greatest hitters of all time, who unfortunately never had a chance to play in Major League Baseball.” The award names came out of a long night of discussion many months ago between Millard, Soren, and Director of Scouting Bryan Hernandez, with different names coming up for each award. “It really was a fun experience, and I think people can easily think of the player attached to each award when they hear what it stands for,” said Millard, who is busy registering bidders for the upcoming franchise auction November 5-7 where all 30 franchises will be sold to the highest bidders, with draft position also determined by those auction results — the higher the bid, the higher the pick for all 26 rounds of the one and only veteran player draft. “What I also liked is we took our fan hats off and looked at it from just a baseball point of view,” Millard added on the award naming process. “It was probably hard for Bryan, as a huge Dodgers fan, to agree on Barry Bonds of L.A.’s archrival, the Giants, as league MVP, but Bonds was the most dominant hitter of his generation — no matter what you think of how he did it, he did it within MLB rules at the time.” There will be a Score Coin (SCO) reward for franchises whose players win awards and there could be a physical trophy as well. “We are working on some cool things, that I think franchise owners are really going to get a kick out of. This was an absolute blast to do with the group we have, and some of the names just fit perfectly,” said Millard. “I mean, Jackie Robinson as the Rookie of the Year, he was the first-ever player to win the MLB rookie of the year — they created it in his first season. Nolan Ryan was the most dominant pitcher I watched over an entire career. And it’s tough to argue with a guy whose nickname is synonymous with having success in the playoffs, Mr. October Reggie Jackson for playoff MVP?” How the award winners are determined will be a topic of discussion at the first offseason meetings this winter. The UFLB Rulebook is now available here and franchise auctions are scheduled for November 5-7. For more information, head to www.UFFSports.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.