I’m looking at the National League leaders from last season where names like Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols pop up in the top five nearly every offensive statistic. Fielder and Pujols are about to find themselves in a different column all together after a wild off-season sent the heavy hitters to the American League, changing the MLB landscape.
Aside from the money (both Fielder and Pujols signed multi-year contracts worth over $200 million… yes, 200 MILLION DOLLARS), it shouldn’t come as a shock that guys hitting 37 and 38 home runs (Pujols and Fielder, respectively) are leaving the NL for the AL, home of the designated hitter. Between Fielder’s weight (275 lbs. on a 5’11 frame) and Pujols’ age (32), it would make sense for both guys to make the switch to full-time batter within the next few years.
I don’t understand why baseball has allowed each league to have different rules, especially considering it was not always that way. I love to see pitchers at the plate. Even though most pitchers stink at hitting, I think there is something to be said for every single man on the roster being responsible for throwing and hitting the ball at some point in every game. I find it fascinating watching a pitcher pitch to his fellow hurler, and when a pitcher does get a hit (or a home run, which I watched my hometown Dodgers fall victim to four times last season), the reaction of his teammates and fans is usually priceless.
On the other hand, I get that a guy hitting 30-something home runs in a season is much more exciting. Despite his struggles in the first few months of the last few seasons, the roar of the Fenway Park crowd each time David Ortiz takes the plate is something special. Sure, Big Papi was instrumental in Boston’s World Series titles, but there’s just something about a big guy like that at bat. No need to worry about him trying to catch a runner in the outfield, or make a big play at third, just enjoy him doing what he does best.
The designated hitter position has required the AL to stack the deck with the best pitchers in the game, although the top five guys in each league were all spectacular last season.
If Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia , Jered Weaver and James Shields thought they had their work cut out for them last season staring down the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson and a slew of others, now they get to add Fielder and Pujols to that list. YIKES.
The AL West alone looks ridiculous! The two-time World Series runner-up Texas Rangers added Yu Darvish to the lineup and the the new-look Pujols-infused Anaheim Angeles should improve mightily on top of already owning a fantastic pitching staff.
In the AL Central, the division-winning Detroit Tigers will only get better, now with Fielder, Cabrera and Peralta in the same lineup.
As further evidence of a power swing, I just typed an entire blog about the AL without mentioning the Yankees or Red Sox. Saying nothing about New York or Boston says a lot about the direction in which the American League is heading.
Opposite journeys down the Yellow Brick road led both the Lions and Tigers to victory on Sunday giving fans in Detroit something to cheer about.
In football it was staging a ferocious comeback and in baseball, it was fiercely protecting a delicate lead.
The Lions victory came indoors under the bright lights of the world’s largest video screen in Arlington, Texas while the Tigers conquest came under dark, rain-drenched skies in the Bronx, New York.
Two road victories gleefully received both 620 miles and 1,200 miles away back home in Detroit.
This was a copycat performance of sorts for the Lions, who have overcome a double digit, second half deficit on the road for the second straight week, this time, erasing a 24-point, 27-3 Cowboys third quarter lead.
The Lions defense preyed on a somewhat enigmatic Tony Romo, intercepting the Dallas QB twice in three passes. Friend of Romo and former Cowboy Bobby Carpenter returned the first pick 35 yards for the touchdown, and Chris Houston followed suit on the Cowboys’ next possession, with a 56-yard interception returned for another touchdown.
Detroit’s defensive surge seemed to wake up the offense as Calvin Johnson scored two TD’s (tying Cris Carter’s record of four consecutive games of scoring two touchdowns), not to mention a 51-yard Jason Hanson field goal. Like last week in Minneapolis, the Lions dug themselves a hole, pulled themselves up and pushed themselves to the brink to get a win. The Lions caused the Cowboys’ worst collapse in franchise history.
Shortly after Dallas ended up on the wrong side of a 34-30 victory, becoming the latest victims of a Lions comeback, the Tigers took aim at the Yankees, looking to even the AL Division Series. Unlike their football counterparts, the boys of summer started off hot, with Miguel Cabrera hitting a two-run home run off Freddy Garcia in the top of the first inning. The Tigers defense wasn’t too shabby either, as starter Max Scherzer impressed, pitching a no-hitter through six innings.
Detroit led 5-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth when the home team decided to rally. Nick Swisher hit a solo homer off of Jose Valverde followed by an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly, scoring Jorge Posada, cutting the Tigers lead to 5-3.
With two men on base, the winning run, Robinson Cano of all people, came to the plate. In the Yankees game one win, Cano hit a grand slam and drove in six runs. Cano hit a solo home run in the eighth inning, putting New York on the board in game two. Now here he was, the potential winning run, staring Valverde in the eyes through the pouring rain. The pitcher kept his composure and the hero of game one grounded out to end game two. With the win, the Tigers snapped the Yankees’ seven-game ALDS winning streak spanning three consecutive post seasons.
This is the Tigers’ first playoff appearance since 2006, when they dropped game one to the Yankees before winning the next three games to take the series. They swept the A’s in the ALCS, advancing to the World Series where the Tigers lost to the Cardinals in five games. Their last world series title came in 1984.
The Lions are 4-0 for the first time since 1980. Jimmy Carter was president at the time. The Lions last playoff appearance came in 1999, and they last won the NFL Championship in 1957. It’s been a long time coming for the Lions in many respects.
1934 was the last time the Lions were 4-0 and the Tigers made the playoffs in the same year.
Although a trip to the World Series is still a ways away for the Tigers, and the playoffs even further down the road for the Lions, Detroit’s fans should appreciate Sunday’s success and enjoy the journey.