A Baseball Team Got it Right
Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians for having the common sense to sign outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year, incentive-based contract. The former all-star has played in only 210 of a possible 486 games over the past three years. Sizemore’s base salary in 2012 will be $5 million, and he can make another $4 million based on plate appearances. All baseball contracts should be structured this way.
National League Most Valuable Player
Congratulations to Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun. Braun made
Milwaukee baseball history by becoming the first player from the city to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award since Henry Aaron in 1957 did it with the Milwaukee Braves. We got to see how great Braun is during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Ryan Braun was also part of a record-tying four member 30-30 Club. Joining Braun were Matt Kemp, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ian Kinsler. For a while it looked like Kemp was going to have a shot at a Triple Crown but faded at the end.
Cy Young and MVP!
I have to admit that I was disappointed when I heard that Justin Verlander had won the American League MVP honor. He received 13 of 28 first-place votes and 280 points.
Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was second in this year’s voting with four first-place votes and 242 points. Verlander got over 3 times the number of first place votes. He played in 34 games compared to Ellsbury’s 158 games. In those 158 games, he scored 119 runs, drove in 105 and batted .321. Add 32 home runs and 212 hits and not too many players have had better years. Toronto outfielder
Jose Bautista (five firsts, 231 points), had similar numbers in 148 games. Rounding out the top five are New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson (three firsts, 215 points) and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera (two firsts, 193 points).
I wonder what Adrian Gonzalez is thinking. In 159 games he scored 108 runs, drove in 117 and batted .338.
Major League Baseball is the Best
After watching the Cardinals and Rays complete remarkable comebacks to make the playoffs it would be hard to argue against baseball being the best sport. The 73,425,568 fans that attended baseball games in 2011 would agree. I would put Game 6 of the 2011 World Series in the top ten all time of best games played in any sport.
Now baseball has agreed to add another wild card team. This will make for a higher number of playoff races coming down the wire. I am disappointed that the two wild card teams will play a one-and-done format. One bad game and your season is over. I would have liked to seen a best of three. Some would argue that playing three games would punish the division winners, because they would have to sit around and wait. Well, what happens when a team sweeps their opponent and the other league’s series goes seven games? The team that swept sits around and waits. If you are concerned that a three game format would extend the season into November, then take two games off the regular season.
Even after adding two more wild card teams, baseball still has the lowest percentage (33) of its teams making the postseason.
Could Instant Replay be Next?
I’m somewhat encouraged that baseball continues to improve its product. My hope is that they start to take a more proactive approach to implementing instant replay. The other thing that needs to be changed is having the All-Star game determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series. The team with the best record should have the home field advantage. This year, Texas had the best record, but St. Louis got to play game 7 at home.
I like the move of Houston to the American League. Even though the sale of the Astros was dependent of on the move, I think in the long run everybody in baseball benefits. An intrastate rivalry will develop between the Astros and the Texas Rangers that will make Astro fans forget about the National League.
I am also pleased that the inter-league games will be spread out. American League teams will no longer have to go through nine-game stretches without their designated hitter or National League teams having to use a DH spot they are not sufficiently equipped to fill.
I would like to thank the players and management for working together that resulted in the announcement of a preliminary Collective Bargaining Agreement. This means we will have uninterrupted play through 2016.
A Hall of Fame Infield?
I wonder if the current Yankee infield of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Can and Alex Rodriguez could someday all be members of the Hall of Fame.
The 2011 Major League Baseball Season
These are some of my favorite memories of the 2011 Major League Baseball season:
- On July 9, 2011, Derek Jeter fortified his place in baseball history with his
3000th hit, becoming the 28th player in MLB history to reach the mark, and only the second shortstop after Honus Wagner. Derek Jeter homering for his 3,000 hit and going 5-for-5 with the game-winning RBI on that fairy tale day at Yankee Stadium.
- Mariano Rivera earning a record 602nd save.
The secret assault of Jim Thome to record his 600th home run. Thome is only the 8th player in baseball history to hit 600+ home runs.
- Franciso Liriano, Justin Verlander and Ervin Santana pitching no-hitters
- The incredible pitchers’ duel between Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay in a sudden-death elimination game.
- Watching Texas Ranger manager Ron Washington show his emotions in the dugout.
Albert Pujols homering three times in a World Series game.Only Babe Ruth (twice) and Reggie Jackson had done it before.
- Tony La Russa managing his sixth league championship and third World Series title. He ranks third with 2,728 wins over 33 seasons as manager. Only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) won more. I wish he had stayed around long enough to at least pass McGraw.
- The thrill of watching Cardinal David Freese’s heroics.
- Tiger’s Justin Verlander and Dodger’s Clayton Kershaw both won the pitching Triple Crown in their respective leagues (Wins, ERA and Strikeouts). This is the first time there’s been dual pitching Triple Crowns since 1924.
- Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista proved that 2010 wasn’t a fluke as he
claimed the home run title again in 2011. His 43 home runs were two more than New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson. Bautista is the first player to win the title in two straight years since Alex Rodriguez did it in 2002-03.
- Watching Tampa Bay Rays Sam Fuld play defense. There is no better example of his all-
out play that a game against the Chicago White Sox, soaring through the air to rob Juan Pierre of a bases loaded triple.
- Evan Longoria winning the wild-card with a solo home run in the bottom of the 12th inning.