It was a tale of two 28-year-olds, but did you know who Corey Kluber was before the 2014 season began? Surely everyone knew his competition in Seattle, but unless you’re an Indians fan or follow baseball closely, perhaps not. Wednesday night the Birmingham native hopefully became a household name after capturing the 2014 American League Cy Young Award.
The end of Daylight Saving Time, frigid weather, and the conclusion of a stellar World Series make November a sad time for many baseball fans. Thankfully the sport gives us one last treat by recognizing the season’s best players during the 11th month.
Announcements run this coming Monday through Thursday, so let’s take time to offer predictions on the winners.
I am generally a National League guy, as more interesting, strategic baseball is played on the Senior Circuit. But with the NL featuring franchises we’ll see in the World Series for a fourth consecutive October, I’m more excited for the Royals and Orioles to open the ALCS at Camden Yards Friday night.
The Minnesota Twins fired manager Ron Gardenhire last week, leaving Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia as not just the longest-serving skipper in Major League Baseball, but by a landslide. After a first-round playoff debacle against the wild card Kansas City Royals — his team scored just eight runs in its last 52 innings — it’s long past time for the Angels to relieve Scioscia of his duties.
Lloyd McClendon is guiding the Seattle Mariners to their best season since 2007 and perhaps their first playoff visit in 13 years. Yet when Houston’s Bo Porter was fired last week and Texas’ Ron Washington simply quit on his club Friday, ESPN’s Calvin Watkins couldn’t help but distract from Seattle’s success when the Mariners visited Arlington.
I wrote a similar piece last year and in 2012, but didn’t think I’d need to opine on the same topic again this season. I was wrong.
Last September, the Cleveland Indians seemingly regained fan confidence when, under the stewardship of veteran skipper Terry Francona, they won their final 10 games to finish 92-70, capturing the top AL Wild Card spot. Not bad for a squad that collapsed the August prior and fell to a 68-94 clip.
With the Independent and Minor League Baseball regular seasons a month from closing, and the Northwoods League schedule roughly a week away from conclusion, we’ve hit the proverbial dog days of baseball across the Heartland. Few locales was this more evident than a steamy night in eastern South Dakota when two last place teams separated by just 85 miles did battle.
When the Indianapolis Indians marked 15 years of baseball at beautiful Victory Field in 2011, the running local commentary was that few believed the ballpark was that old due to its magnificent condition. While perhaps not as grandiose at the Triple-A stadium in downtown Circle City, Newman Outdoor Field, also in existence since 1996, could boast similar claims.
I was roughly two hours into a 12-hour drive from Minnesota to Oklahoma Monday when I heard the news Tony Gwynn died at age 54 after a courageous multi-year battle with salivary gland cancer. For safety reasons, I pulled off the road to collect myself, confirm it was true and commiserate with friends and family.