You may need to go back to the final days of the 1967 season when the Red Sox were perched in the same preposterous position to find a prospect more delightfully improbable than the Orioles prevailing over the AL East as they are preciously on the verge of doing this year. It's a fine illustration of what makes baseball -- like no other game -- impossible to predict or sometimes even comprehend. In Baltimore this season, the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.
Out West, they argue the Oakland A's -- re-crafted overnight by Billy Beane and Bob Melvin -- might just be more remarkable for having scratched and clawed to the brink of the playoffs on a $49.1million payroll that's the lowest in all of baseball; precisely a quarter of what the Yankees are paying their pampered elite and less than a third of what the Angels are shelling out for the privilege of having to chase the A's futilely all season.
With days left, the Angels could still catch the A's; something we should devoutly hope does not happen. If the A's do make the playoffs they'll become the first lowest salaried team to do so in the modern "Big-Bucks" era. It's a satisfaction we don't need to be denied and for Beane, it will be quite a sequel to his "Money Ball" antics.
Otherwise, with the NL's relatively uninspired playoff picture mostly settled there is only the usual scramble for individual honors to focus upon. Here's how it looks from this corner:
AL MVP. It's the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera and it won't be close. He has the triple crown in reach, something no one's boasted since our Mighty Yaz in '67. The big question being will Cabrera's heroics be sufficient to lead the Tigers to the Playoffs. The guessing here is he'll find a way.
AL Cy Young. It's a pure toss-up among the Tigers' Verlander, the Angels' Weaver, and the White Sox Sale. He who dramatically leads his team to the post-season wins the Cy too.
AL Rookie. Not since Freddie Lynn has there been a more runaway pick than the Angels' Mike Trout, though in the long run the A's Yoenis Cespedes may prove just as worthy.
AL Manager. Ordinarily the A's Melvin and White Sox Ventura get serious consideration but the support for the Orioles' Buck Showalter is a veritable tidal wave and deservedly, because not since Williams in '67 has a manager made such a difference.
NL MVP. One pulls for Pittsburgh's sterling Andrew McCutcheon, if only to allow the Pirates -- edging on their 20th consecutive losing season -- some solace. But in the end it will be one of the catchers, either Posey of the Giants or the Cards' resident Molina.
NL Cy. The Mets R.A. Dickey was the season's best story but the Mets are irrelevant so Washington's Gio Gonzalez wins instead.
NL Rookie. The suspicion persists they'll find a way to give it to Washington's teenage phenom Bryce Harper, deserved or otherwise.
NL Manager. The Giants' Bruce Bochy is one of those superior skippers who could win most every year and not have to apologize.
Let the second season begin.
|Page 2 of 2
If you found this article interesting please consider helping us continue to spread the Good News.