First off, congrats to the Rays, a great team that beat a very good one. The Sox looked down for the count in game 5, but forcing a Game 7 against a better team after being hampered by injuries during both the regular and post seasons is quite a feat.
Just to note: Only four Red Sox players played in over 120 games this season: Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Kevin Youkilis. The Rays had eight.
The Rays main rotation started 153 games, the Sox starting five managed 134.
This is not to diminish the Rays accomplishment, but with all the talk about Yankee injuries and how that kept them from the postseason, people seem to have forgotten how banged up the Sox roster was this year.
And they still pushed the Rays to the limit.
So, in honor of the 100th Best-Of-Seven World Series, wrap your mind and search engines around these questions:
1) What was the first team to clean sweep (no ties) a World Series? Hint: It wasn't the Red Sox.
2) What was the first team to win back-to-back World Series titles?
3) What was the first team to win a Game 7 (in a best-of-seven series)?
4) What makes the 1969 Mets trophy unique?
5) 13 times an AL team has swept the fall classic. The Yankees have done it eight times. What was the first non-Yankee AL team to do so?
But, now that the season is over for everyone but Philadelphians and Tampa Bay residents, it's time to hand out the awards:
AL MVP - First off, the AL MVP favorite among the reasonably intelligent is Boston's own sawed-off 2B, Dustin "The Destroya" Pedroia. He's most likely going to get the silver with his .325 average, but he's going to lead the league in runs, hits, and doubles. After Manny Ramirez was traded, Pedroia hit .374/.425/.635 in the month of August, with 33 runs and 20 RBI in 26 games. Despite being 5'9", he actually hit clean-up for five games, slugging 1.222 with 7 RBI. Throw in his defense up the middle and the myriad of injuries that the Sox suffered this season and it's hard to argue. Granted, it's been a slow year for the MVP in the AL, with the big candidates underperforming on non-contenders or being hampered by injuries, and you could make a case that Kevin Youkilis has been a better offensive player. But it terms of value to a team, few players have made greater contributions than Pedroia.
1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Justin Morneau
3. Josh Hamilton
Note: Had Carlos Quentin not broken his wrist with his bat, the White Sox win the division walking away and he's porbably the MVP.
The NL is much easier: Albert Pujols. I hope Manny gets the votes he deserves: zero. Any value he's contributed to the Dodgers is negated by what he took away in Boston.
1. Albert Pujols
2. Albert Pujols
3. David Wright
AL Cy Young goes to Cliff Lee. Hallady has been great as usual, and is probably the best AL pitcher of the decade, but Lee just edges him this season. Hallady has thrown more innings, but he's also played with a better defense behind him and allowed over twice as many unearned runs as Lee.
1. Cliff Lee
2. Roy Halladay
3. Jon Lester
The NL is a bit trickier, but I'd throw my vote for Johan Santana, and here's why: Tim Lincecum has had a great year, but he's also played in the weakest division in baseball. He threw 74 of his 227 innings (33%) against the Padres and Diamondbacks, teams that rate 15th/13th in BA, 16th/8th in OBA, and 14th/8th in SLG, respectively, in the National League. Against the Rockies, the team with the best offensive stats in the division, he's got a 4.28 ERA over 37 innings. Santana, on the other hand, while not playing in a division that much stronger, has put up terrific numbers against the Mets chief rivals: the Phillies (2.97 over 36.1 innings) and Marlins (1.96 over 23 innings). Santana has a lower ERA over more innings, and while he has fewer strikeouts, Nolan Ryan had more K's than Tom Seaver. Were it not for Johan, the Mets wouldn't have been upset on the last day of the season because they'd have been out of the race long before this week rolled around. He threw more innings, had a better ERA, he deserves his third Cy Young.
1. Johan Santana
2. Tim Lincecum
3. Cole Hamels
AL Fireman should go to the Twins' Joe Nathan, though K-Rod might get it because of his saves, which is a mirage of a record if there ever was one. Brad Lidge is probably going to get it in the NL, and he deserves it.
Rookies: Evan Longoria in the AL and Geovany Soto in the NL.
For true baseball fans, the season's still not over, and I am temporarily a diehand Phanatic.
Why? Because, the Phils had fans, I don't know, last year maybe?
Hell, I know for a fact they had fans in April.
The Rays? They have people who pay to watch the team score "points." The type who think home plate is "fourth base." The kind who still have the tag on their B.J. Upton jersey and who, before August, thought Evan Longoria was Eva's sister.
Phils fans have had a long-suffering history, full of bitter disapointments and blowing sure-fire chances at success. They've endured Mitch Williams in 1993, the collpase of 1964, the underachieving late-70s squads, and living with the fact that they used to boo Mike Schmidt. They are kinsmen in the woeful franchise club, foul-mouthed, drunk, angry men young and old striving to be redeemed from the sins of their fathers and grandfathers.
Terry Francona used to be the Phillies manager.
Charlie Manuel's mother just passed away, what type of insensative, deliberate Buchanan-voting frontrunner can't get behind that?
The kind who live in Florida.
Bill Cosby is a Phillies fan. Joe Queenan is a Phillies fan. Gerald Early is a Phillies fan. Dwight Schrute, I'm sure, is a Phillies fan and you just know Charlie Kelly is.
And for this week, I am a Phillies fan.
Also, who doesn't want to see a team that just gave Cory Lidle and Bobby Abreu to the Yankees win it all two years later? Great job Cashmoney!
Go Sox, in '09.
But until then, go Phils.