AL Comeback Player
Mariano Rivera (44 saves, 54 K’s, 2.11 era)
AL Comeback Player
Mariano Rivera (44 saves, 54 K’s, 2.11 era)
The first half of the season is in the books and there were many great teams, players and moments. I will hand out awards for best and worst team, AL and NL MVP’s, CY Young’s, Rookies and and Managers of the first half. We can only hope the second half lives up to the excitement we had for the first three months.
The 2012 Major League Baseball postseason has been filled with excitement over the course of the early rounds. For the first time, ten teams qualified for the playoffs. After several intense series, the final two teams are left standing. The Detroit Tigers outlasted the Chicago White Sox in order to win the American League Central following a September surge. The playoff-like atmosphere of September prepared Detroit for the challenge of outlasting the upstart Oakland Athletics as they were forced to play a decisive Game 5 in hostile Oakland. Despite a game one 9th inning hiccup from closer Jose Valverde, the Tigers managed to sweep the New York Yankees on their way to winning the franchise’s 11th American League Pennant. The National League battle for the pennant has been even a tighter contest. The Giants found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole in the LDS facing the low odds of winning three consecutive games in Cincinnati. San Francisco answered the call and found a way to pull off three consecutive elimination road victories. The 2nd wild card and defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals rolled into San Francisco and grabbed game one of the NLCS. The Cards went on to win three of the series’ first four games and the Giants found themselves faced with the prospects of winning three consecutive games. Once again San Francisco answered the call behind outstanding performances from Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. The Giants stomped the Cardinals in game seven on their way to winning the franchise’s 21st National League Pennant and second in three seasons. The 108th World Series has been set and there certainly is plenty of postseason experience between the two remaining squads. The Tigers enter the World Series rested with a rotation in order, the Giants arrive battled-tested after winning six elimination games over the previous two series. If the postseason to this point has been any indication as to what we can expect going forward, I’d say we are in a very competitive and exciting World Series.
Its a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since 1967 but 45 years after Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox won the Triple Crown we have another! Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera officially clinched with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, Cabrera became the first player in 45 years to achieve the Triple Crown, leading the league in all three major hitting categories.
The Detroit Tigers certainly made an offseason splash in signing Prince Fielder for $214,000,000(yes 6 zeroes) over 9 years. While a lineup with Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is certainly fearsome for White Sox and Indians fans the Tigers have issues to figure out that might not be solvable with their current roster. 15 years ago I bought a girl a ring – nothing spectacular and certainly not engagement quality but to me at the time it probably represented more then the close to one million times larger the Tigers just signed up for. Go ahead and try this nonsense when you’re young and dumb. It works just the same when you’re old and desperate for a title.
Just like I had a defensive jealousy about me the Tigers have a second base issue in Brandon Inge’s candidacy for the spot. While the city is divided into great guy/horrible hitter camps the bottom line is going to be determined by the guy can recognize enough of his own issues to at least contribute. It becomes dificult to balance whether he really cares or just says the right things when he shows up after most of the team for Spring Training. Just like the girl sulks off to the minors to cool off from you and you start to learn the game of being young and able to pick up the oppo sex again she’ll slap you across the face at work Brandon Inge will break you off and come back with a game winning homer just to show you he’s back in. Before you know it you’re in the same situation again – hanging onto something that just isn’t there. I like Brandon Inge I don’t dislike my ex but seeing either one of them leaves me feeling like I was punched in a special location.
A note to the young turks out there – don’t go changing yourself either. Whether she wants you to wear argyle socks or to shave more often just be where you can be the best you. Whatever cologne she sticks you with isn’t yours. She just marked her territory – no matter how good you think you smell – you smell like hers. The Tigers moving Miguel Cabrera isn’t exactly putting Brooks Robinson on 3rd and it isn’t putting Mark Reynolds there either. Let’s admit that it likely isn’t putting the best Cabrera on the field either. You can’t help but love what Cabrera brings to the plate and he transitioned to first base well enough to avoid being a liability in the field. Moving him back to third to find a slot for Fielder is a risk with huge stakes. If it works I will be the first to throw back a celebratory shot, light a victory cigar, and call Dave Dombrowski a genius but if it fails they have a lot of shuffling to do and like the eventual result of a relationship split Jim Leyland is going to smoke 3 packs of Camel unfiltered. I guarantee this. In fact 3 packs might be a step down for the skipper.
And if it does blow up in their faces long term the fan base will go thru the painful steps of rage, sadness, hope, and eventual acceptance. We’ll look back fondly on what didn’t work and what could’ve been and remember that it made us better long term so long as we don’t get it wrong again.
Sometimes you have to realize you don’t need the enigmatic first emotional option. No matter how great it seemed you look back and realize that ALCS win wasn’t getting it over the wall. Sometimes you find your championship comes from a Derek Jeter-esque Welsh Terrier, a ManRam-esque Airedale, and someone unexpected and extraordinary putting it all together for you. Sometimes you wait for the ring to develop – just like you wait out your prospects. The Tigers have made a bid for immediate returns and despite a potential murder’s row they’re likely to be judging the final result on the basis of someone unexpected who comes thru – I’m rooting for Brennan Boesch. After all my lucky # is 26 and it seemed to work out for me despite a rebuilding process after the emotion of trying to buy that first ring wore off.