Westminster Dogs, Baseballed

This year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A celebration of racial purity and shaved butts, it is a super weird event that I find relentlessly entertaining and fascinating, despite the fact that I have never and will never own a AKC registered purebred dog (since there are really cute mutts being put to sleep every day). Naturally, I spent Valentine’s Day eating failed meringues, watching the televised version of the event, and forming a baseball analogy for your edification (plus YAY DOG PICTURES YAY):

Palacegarden Malachy

Pekinese (Toy Group), Pitcher

2012 WAR: 7.1

Awards: Best In Show, Best In Toy Group, Best Pekinese, Cy Young

Malachy’s performance in 2012 was strong, but there are those in the sabermetric community who feel that he ran away with the BIS (Best In Show) award this year based on some outdated factors (weirdness, front fluffiness). Certainly, he is a dog who seems at first glance to lack the grit or determination necessary for this game, but those who judge him are missing out on this dog’s extraordinary (if a bit unconventional) control from the mound. Those that have questioned Malachy’s “hustle” and drive, consider this: he had the highest K/9 last year for a pitcher with at least 20 starts, and his shape kind of reminds me of Falcor.

Raydachs Playing With Fire V Gleishorbach — “Cinders”

Wire-haired dachsund (Hound Group), Shortstop

2012 WAR: 8.2

Awards: Best In Hound Group, Best Wire-Haired Dachsund, All-Star Game Starting Shortstop

Cinders is a real fan favorite and a living embodiment of the “intangibles” in baseball, but without sacrificing the numbers. He is a smart baserunner, a heads-up shortstop, and as the lead off batter for a Hounds team that is, of late, always part of the conversation, he knows how to get on base and stay there. He’s always fun to watch as he seems to put his oversized heart into every play he makes out there. His “Bagwell style” beard was the subject of much discussion this year and will be memorialized by Nike on a t-shirt as soon as he retires. He is also a great family pet.

Spotlights Ruffian — “Ian”

Dalmation (Non-Sporting Group), Right field

2012 WAR: 7.3

Awards: Best In Non-Sporting Group, Best Dalmation, Gold Glove

There were many who wanted to see a Dalmation win Best In Show this year, and Ian really looked like that dog at the beginning of the season — maybe the attention got to Ian’s head as he managed to let Malachy get the best of him in several matchups towards the end of the season. He still had a great performance in 2012 overall, often showing off his athletic prowess at a position that has often been filled by the weakest defensive players. He hits home runs on the field and (according to some tabloids) off the field he’s a power hitter as well… with the ladies!

Perrisblu Kennislain’s Chelsey

Kerry Blue Terrier (Terrier Group), Left Field

2012 WAR: 7.0

Awards: Best In Terrier Group, Best Kerry Blue Terrier, World Series MVP

We all know the statistics: terriers have won this BIS award 43 out of 103 times. Certainly for that reason, not to mention her striking style of play, on base percentage, and super awesome eyebrows, Chelsey did at times seem like a favorite for this year’s prize. Some questions did arise about whether she was really the best terrier in her group, especially because her breed is a less popular variety. “Come on, the fox terrier was much cuter!” said one commentator from her couch — she would like to remain anonymous, but we can tell you that her initials include a S and a B. But once on the larger stage of the Best in Show competition, Chelsey showed her true colors and they were, yes, true blue. She had one of the best performances we’ve seen in some time and she had the crowd on their feet for every at bat, waiting to see if she could push another one out of the park. And she did: she had three home runs in the final game of the season, but she was part of a crowded field. As Ford Frick award winning announcer David Frei is known for saying “there aren’t enough blue ribbons.”

Babheim’s Captain Crunch — “Cappy”

German Shepherd (Herding Group), DH

2012 WAR: 6.9

Awards: Best In Herding Group, Best German Shephard, Home Runs Leader, Silver Slugger

Cappy is a fixture of the American League Designated Hitter position and, at the rate he’s going now, he is in the conversation for being among the top three or four DHs of all time. He fits the bill physically and seems to exude the attitude of a pure hitter as soon as he steps out of the dugout and onto the field. Intimidating both pitchers and the fielders who have to contend with his violent line drives, Cappy looked for a moment like he might muscle his way into the BIS voter’s hearts. “Scrappy” and “cute” were the words of the day, but Cappy seems content to just keep right on belting home runs while the smaller dogs tremble in fear.

Shadagee Caught Red Handed — “Emily”

Irish Setter (Sporting Group), Third Base

2012 WAR: 6.5

Awards: Best In Sporting Group, Best Irish Setter, Rookie of the Year

Emily was out of the conversation for BIS seemingly as soon as she was in it, which is surprising given her reputation for being a beautiful fielder and a member of the aptly named “Sporting Group.” Irish Setters are certainly among the most popular breeds in the hearts of Americans, but Emily was up against competition that simply outmatched her skill set this year. She is a fantastic dog that is a joy to watch, but in the public perception, she lacks the ability to win “in the clutch.” Her BABIP was extremely unlucky this year so we have high hopes for this girl in the future. She has a long career ahead of her and , if she ever decides to get out of the baseball gig, she could certainly win some jobs as a model!

Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici — “Fifi”

Doberman Pinscher (Working Group), First Base

2012 WAR: 6.2

Awards: Best In Working Group, Best Doberman Pinscher, All Star Game MVP

In contrast to Emily, Fifi is a dog who always seem to perform in the clutch for her team. She is a vicious competitor and all she wants to do is “win, win, win no matter what” (as per her own batting music). However, a quick look at the numbers shows a dog who may actually be somewhat overrated. I know that in my own household, we certainly thought Scarlett the boxer was a shoo-in for her group. But that isn’t to “dog” Fifi, who is a fine first baseman and a great number three spot hitter who drove in 125 runs last year — leading the league. And although I drafted her somewhat reluctantly, I can’t ignore her contributions to my fantasy team, where she killed it for me in 5 out of 6 categories (let’s just say she’s not a fan of stealing bases, but then, neither am I).

Summer Anne Burton is a writer and illustrator living in Austin, Texas. She is drawing pictures of Every Hall of Famer.

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Remarkble restraint to only use the hilarious K/9 joke once. Hooray for dog pictures!