TORONTO -- Munenori Kawasaki won over the Blue Jays' fanbase with his antics on and off the field, and it's that same type of quirky enthusiasm that has resulted in a Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Cut 4 Topic of the Year.
The veteran middle infielder became a household name in Toronto this season while filling in for the injured Jose Reyes. Kawasaki was a favorite in the clubhouse and even more popular outside of it, thanks to a series of hilarious interactions with the media and fans at Rogers Centre.
It was one of those moments that resulted in the GIBBY Award, as Kawasaki took home the honor for his postgame interview with Sportsnet's Arash Madani that went viral with a declaration of "I am Japaneeeeese."
Kawasaki's interview came in the moments immediately following a dramatic walk-off victory over the Orioles on May 26. Toronto's shortstop recorded a walk-off double to secure the 7-6 win, which prompted his teammates stormed the field in celebration.
Madani then secured a postgame interview with veteran Mark DeRosa, but within seconds, it was Kawasaki who took center stage. Kawasaki grabbed the microphone and proceeded to scream "My name is Munenori Kawasaki, I come from Japan, I am Japaneeeeese."
Kawasaki then took a book of English phrases out of his pocket and said, "My teammates gave me an opportunity, so I wanted to do something about it." Kawasaki was then promptly hit in the face with a pie by teammate Emilio Bonifacio while right-hander Esmil Rogers quickly followed that up with a Gatorade shower on the field.
It was a very lighthearted moment in an otherwise frustrating year for the Blue Jays. Despite the disappointing results in 2013, Kawasaki often was responsible for keeping the mood relatively light in the clubhouse, and he became somewhat of a cult hero for the fanbase.
Despite the memorable year, Kawasaki's future with the Blue Jays remains in doubt. Kawasaki is currently a free agent and is considering a return to Japan, but he also has an offer for a Minor League contract from Toronto.
MLB's A-listers won GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of baseball's awards season -- and will be presented with them during the 2014 season. More than 10 million votes were cast by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards featured nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors went to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best Starting Pitcher, Hitter, Closer, Setup Man, Rookie, Breakout Hitter, Breakout Pitcher, Comeback Player, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive and Postseason Performer.
GIBBY trophies also were awarded for the year's top Play, Storyline, Hitting Performance, Pitching Performance, Oddity, Walk-off, Cut4 Topic, Regular-Season Moment and Postseason Moment, with video available via MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
GIBBYs categories included players from both leagues and performances not only from the regular season, but also through the end of the playoffs, making them unique in singling out the best of the best.
All 30 clubs were represented among the award candidates. In fact, every team had multiple nominees in 2013 -- a testament to the parity of talent around the game.