Here we go 2011! With some fantastic off season activity this year, there has been much to talk about. After a winter hiatus from writing, its time to get back into it. I found an essay type description online, and figured that this would be a great place to start my first post of the year.
- In the first part, tell us about yourself and why you love baseball.(500 word limit)
- In the second part, answer one of the following questions (500 word limit)
- Who will win the American and National League Most Valuable Player Awards in 2011? Make a strong case for your selections.
- What will be the biggest MLB storyline of 2011? Explain why.
There are many reasons to love baseball, and each person has a smaller subset of this large array of reasons that makes baseball special to them. Many people can point to a specific game that their Dad took them too, or a memorable player interaction that their love of the game stems from. My first game, and introduction to baseball happened at such a young age that I do not even remember it. My love, however, stems more from the field that it does from the stands. I grew up playing baseball, and there was nothing that I loved more. 2nd base was my position, and there was nothing more satisfying than making a great defensive play. I loved being in the ready position, waiting for the pitch. I remember the smell of the freshly cut grass, the annoying little gnats that inevitably wound up squished on the underside of my cap’s brim, the cool breeze that came in as the sun was setting, and the joyous feeling of knowing we didn’t have to stop as the lights came on.
I couldn’t get enough baseball. I began to watch the Red Sox. I grew up in the 90’s when the Sox were constantly not good enough. I listened to games on WEEI, because I loved the descriptions of the game over the radio. Eventually, I began to understand “the curse”. It was something I had always known about, but didn’t understand for a long time. It was only after years of constant defeat did I really feel the pain. The late 90’s were supposed to be our time, the rise of Nomar, our beloved Trot, the acquisition of Pedro. I was head over heels in love with the Red Sox, and the Yankees broke my heart, year, after year, after year. The curse began to take hold of me. My hatred for NY grew immensely, as did my fear of the curse. The crushing defeats continued into 2003, where I had to deal with Aaron Boone of all people.
Then everything changed, and everyone knows the story. In the biggest hole in professional sports the Red Sox won eight straight games to end it all. Pure joy. The curse was over. My baseball love didn’t end there, how could it? I was thirsty for more. So how exactly does one top breaking an 86 year curse in spectacular fashion?
Enter the 2008 Phillies. Game 5, part two. As a seasoned baseball fan knows, Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was postponed mid-game due to rain, throwing a wrench into the travel plans of fans everywhere. As luck would have it, this provided me with a free ticket to part two of the game. I got to walk into a 2-2 tie in the 6th inning, and watch the Phillies win it all. Mayhem. Riots. Another broken fan base had their redemption and I was a part of it. Sweet revenge after the Rays had eliminated my Sox. Baseball is in my blood, and I will never tire of it.
A) 2011 AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia – This is a tough one for me, and I have tried to remove any bias there might be in me as a Sox fan, but this guy tries harder than anyone I have ever seen. In 2010, he took grounders on his knees while he had a broken foot. Already having won the rookie of the year award in 2007 and an MVP in 2008, a gold glove, and three straight all-star selections, he still has the desire to work hard and improve. With the lineup additions of Crawford and Gonzalez he has a great deal of power behind him (presuming he keeps 2nd in the batting order), as well as the return of Ellsbury to the leadoff slot to help his RBI numbers. This scrappy player will not stop short of perfect, and that dedication will win him another MVP award in the next 3 years.
2011: NL MVP: Roy Halladay – The last pitcher to win a MVP was Dennis Eckersley in 1992. This is really a shame. Since 1992 we have entered the steroid era, possibly explaining why no pitcher was awarded the honor due to inflated hitting numbers. It appears, however, that the steroid era is over. 2010 had 7 no hitters, including two perfect games. Roy Halladay threw a perfect game and a postseason no hitter. Since leaving the AL East, Halladay has been absurdly dominant, and will continue to be in 2011. With 9 complete games in 2010, a 2.44 ERA, and 21 wins, it’s a wonder Halladay didn’t get a single first place vote. In all likelihood, this prediction will not come true, but more because the Baseball Writers will all vote for position players in the end. That doesn’t make it right. Consider Halladay, because in the end he will absolutely deserve it.
B) The best storyline of 2011 will be Phantastic Phour in Philadelphia. With possibly the best rotation of all time, they are a giant force that must be taken down. Hands down the favorite for the 2011 W.S. This however, will be a slow storyline and much better in the playoffs. A much less talked about story line will be the Tampa Bay Rays. How will the additions of Manny and Damon for relatively small money impact this team? Can they keep their young, underdog attitude alive? Can they keep Manny from being a cancer? Will Joe Maddon be able to handle the veteran presence? Most importantly, if all of this works out, can they compete with the reloaded Red Sox and powerhouse Yankees? The AL East is once again the strongest division in baseball. Let the games begin.