It was 1967 when it last happened. I was a seven year old living in Washington State. Then it was Carl Yastrzemski who hit .326 with 44 home runs and 121 Runs Batted In. It was remarkable and even during the steroid era no batter in either league led the league in average, home runs and runs batted in. No one. In fact it was only done 14 times before Yaz did, twice by Ted Williams(1947, 1942) and twice by Rogers Hornsby (1925, 1922). Four of the winners did it in the pre-modern era of baseball. The last time a Detroit Tiger won title was 1909 when Ty Cobb did it.
With the resurgence of pitching and changes in the way the game is played, especially with deep relief pitching that have made it tougher for hitters it was believed that it might not happen again. However, tonight Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first player in 45 years to win Baseball’s Triple Crown.
He did it in a pitcher friendly park, Detroit’s Comerica Park. He hit .330, had 44 home runs and 139 RBI. He did it against some of the best pitchers in baseball. He edged New York’s Curtis Granderson who hit 43 home runs and he outdistanced Angels’ rookie outfielder Mike Trout in average and Rangers’ Josh Hamilton in Runs Batted In.
Cabrera’s record is something that many of us may not see again in our life. It is a hard record to get. There are players that can hit the ball out of the park with wild abandon, there are others that can drive in runs like they are going out of style and still others who can get on base with the best of them.
With the way the pitching is and how the game has changed in regard to pitching the odds are that a repeat of this will happen for a long time. Could it happen? Certainly, this is baseball. That is what makes baseball such a great game.
Congratulations to Miguel Cabrera. He and the Tigers now move to the AL Division Series against the incredibly hot Oakland A’s. I remember going to see the A’s play the Tigers back in the 1972 ALCS. This is good.
Baseball. It is a great game.
“All right people, we got 10 minutes ’till game time, let’s all gather ’round. I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big shitburger to eat!” Lou Brown (Charles Gammon) as the Indians Manager in Major League
When the season began no one expected for the Oakland Athletics even to have a winning record. Most experts predicted them to finish last in the American League West. In fact it wasn’t until September that most experts even believed that they were for real, that they wouldn’t fold going down the stretch. They had to. They didn’t have the payroll and most people couldn’t name five of their players. The Angels and Rangers would battle it out and Texas would win the division. The Angles despite a bad start would take a Wild Card bid, they had to. They had the depth, the payroll and the all-star lineup.
At the end of June they were 13 games behind the Rangers. With 9 games left the A’s still trailed the division leading Rangers by 5 games. The experts were ticking down the magic number, the A’s would have to battle for the Wild Card. But the A’s stunned the baseball world taking 5 of 7 from the Rangers in the last 10 games of the season, winning 8 of their last 10 games. They did not take sole possession of the division lead until today.
On game 162 after the A’s had defeated the Rangers to tie division the teams met in Oakland to decide the AL West. The A’s took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first but saw it go away in the top of the third when the Rangers scored five runs. But the A’s were not done. Their pitching kicked in and their bats came alive. In the bottom of the 4th the A’s put 6 runs on the board. They followed adding another in the bottom of the 5th. With two outs in the bottom of the 8th it appeared that the Rangers would be able to keep the game in reach, but then the A’s broke loose with another 4 runs. Grant Balfour came in and retired the Rangers in order in the 9th and the A’s won 12-5.
It was such an unlikely scenario. The A’s have the lowest payroll in the American League. Their rookie pitchers won 53 games, a Major League record. Baseball Prospectus said they would win just 72 games.
It is one of the most amazing stories in recent MLB history. The A’s certainly gave the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and the experts a big “shitburger” to eat.
Congratulations to a most deserving team. It will be fun to hear the A’s being announced during the Division series as the “American League West Champion Oakland A’s.”