So how about those St. Louis Cardinals? They won the 2011 Major League Baseball championship in what turned out to be one of the most exciting World Series in a long, long time. To me, it was almost as exciting as the 1991 World Series, which the Minnesota Twins won over the Atlanta Braves in seven games (I was a huge Kirby Puckett fan at the time, and I'll never forget watching him hit a home run during that World Series on a black and white TV in a friend's dorm room while I was in college). Anyway, it was a bit sad to see the Texas Rangers lose (again) and poor Ron Washington, the Rangers' manager who is now loved by practically everyone, has to go home without a championship trophy. But the games were exciting to watch, David Freese did deserve to be the MVP of the Series, and the Cardinals got to walk away with their eleventh World Series trophy.
So now what? There's still some excitement left for baseball fans - they still have to announce all those post-season awards, like MVP, Cy Young award Winner, Rookie of the Year, etc. Wanna know who I think will win each award? Check it out.
American League Cy Young: This is the biggest no-brainer since people tried to figure out if Ricky Martin was gay. Detroit's Justin Verlander should win the award unanimously in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (they're the ones who vote for these awards - oh, how I would love to be a part of their little group someday!). He finished the season with a 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA, and it didn't hurt that he pitched a no-hitter in there as well.
American League Most Valuable Player: There are some fans out there who think that Justin Verlander should become the first pitcher since Boston's Roger Clemens in 1986 to win the Cy Young and MVP, but the real debate should be between the Yankees' Curtis Granderson (.266 batting average) and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who batted .341 with 29 home runs and 103RBIs. I, of course, the Yankee-hater, think Cabrera should get the award.
American League Manager of the Year: Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon is the hands-down winner. The Rays became the first team to make the postseason by overcoming a nine-game deficit during September, and while I knew they wouldn't make it far into the playoffs, Maddon's leadership was definitely admirable (sorry, Ron Washington; you get my honorable mention!).
American League Rookie of the Year: Some of the names being tossed around are Rays' pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, Angels' first baseman Mark Trumbo, the Royals' Eric Hosmer and the Yankees' Ivan Nova. I say give it to Hosmer for the simple fact that Royals' fans haven't heard any good news since George Brett was inducted into the Hall of Fame (Hosmer's .293 batting average and 19 home runs don't hurt either).
National League Cy Young Award: Lefty Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the man, with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 241 strikeouts. Roy Halladay has pitched well for Philadelphia, but since I don't like the Phillies, I think Kershaw should get the award (good thing they don't ask me, eh?)
National League MVP: Tough call between Milwaukee teammates Ryan Braun (.333 batting average, 33 home runs and 110 RBIs) and Prince Fielder (.293, 35, and 114). Braun actually stole 31 bases though (my father can run faster than Fielder), so I think the MVP will go to him.
National League Manager of the Year: Arizona's Kirk Gibson has two strong starting pitchers (Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson) and a decent bullpen. I couldn't stand him as a player with the Dodgers when he hit that famous home run against the Mets in the 1988 playoffs (yes, the one where he was fist-pumping as he ran the bases), but in his first full season as manager he led the Diamondbacks with intensity and took them to the playoffs.
National League Rookie of the Year: Braves' first baseman Freddy Freeman (.287 batting average with 21 homers and 76RBIs) is a good candidate, but Atlanta's closer, Craig Kimbrel, has 46 saves, a 2.00 ERA, and 126 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings. It's safe to say that this award will go to a Brave.
So now we'll see how accurate I am when the awards start being announced in the coming weeks. Between my All-Star picks that didn't make it and my World Series prediction that didn't come true, you all are going to think that I'm just full of hot air! But please keep checking my blog on occasion during the off-season; there's some wheeling and dealing to be had (with Fielder and Pujols headlining the list of free agents), contracts to be signed, and players to be traded. The off-season promises to get interesting!