Warning: it’s extremely long.
By Nick Childs
Major League Baseball announced this week that Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton won their respective league’s Most Valuable Player award. I think the writers got this one right. While you may be able to make a case that Carlos Gonzalez was as deserving in the National League, you can’t argue against either Votto or Hamilton.
I am not going to say that Votto should not be the league MVP, but I will tell you why Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies is my MVP.
He did everything this year. Offensively, he finished in the top four in every meaningful category except for stolen bases. He finished 10th there with 26 bags swiped. His counterpart, Votto, finished with just 16. Carlos carried his team for the entire year, especially while Troy Tulowitzki, who finished 5th in MVP voting, was out with injury.
Not to mention what he was able to do on the defensive side of the game. Starting at all three outfield positions at different points of the year, depending on what the Rockies needed from him, he won his first Gold Glove. With a combination of speed, great jumps and a cannon for an arm, he proved to be one of the best outfielders in the game. (On a sidenote, the Rockies are in talks with the Diamondbacks about outfielder Justin Upton. Imagine Dexter Fowler, CarGo and Upton all in the same outfield. Would anything fall?)
He was the most impressive player I have ever watched over the course of a year, and the other players agreed. The PLAYERS voted Gonzalez as the most outstanding player in the entire league, let alone just the NL.
And as for the American League MVP, I don’t have a take other than that it is impossible to overstate how impressive Josh Hamilton’s story is, on and off the field. He has become one of my biggest role models and has proven that you can overcome anything as long as you want it badly enough.
Congratulations Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto.
By Nick Childs
Yes, the World Series ended a couple days ago, and yes, I haven’t posted in awhile, but this is why I am a Rangers fan and not afraid to admit it.
As a life-long Red Sox fan, I am used to be called a band-wagon fan, but I don’t believe in this notion. What really inspires true sports fans is teams that truly inspire us as fans. That team was the Texas Rangers this year.
This is why I don’t see a problem jumping on the “bandwagon” that everyone talks about so passionately. The opportunity to root for great teams that inspire me to be a better competitor or better person is why I love sports so much.
I am not saying I am going to be a life-long Rangers fan now, but they are a team that I respect and will follow closely while they maintain the core of players that they have now.
What wasn’t to like about the Rangers?
They were a group full of GREAT stories. They are all guys you can root for and respect. They are a group that you would want to go out and have a beer with… I mean have a Pepsi with, sorry Josh and CJ. They are a group that you don’t hear about in bad press. So why not be a fan?
They had a recovered alcoholic/drug abuser that has completely turned his life around for the better in Josh Hamilton. There isn’t much to say about this guy that hasn’t been covered already, but you can’t stress what he has done enough. Beyond his incredible life journey is the type of teammate that he seems to be. And this has seemed to be infectious to other members of the team. The Rangers looked like a team that loved being around one another.
There need to be more people like Hamilton in the game, players that people can root for on and off the field. Hamilton battles in a fight off the field that is far more intense than anything on the field. Baseball is his sanctuary, and that is something we can all respect.
Also, unless you are the tin man, you couldn’t help but be moved at least a little when Hamilton talked about how he was tearing up with two outs in the 9th of their clinching ALCS game. Hamilton always gives the glory to God and his teammates while denying the opportunity to speak about himself. This dude has his priorities in order.
Lets move to the pitching staff.
CJ Wilson is another person to learn from and respect. He goes through a similar battle off of the field as Josh Hamilton- without the dramatic history.
CJ Wilson leads a “straight-edge” lifestyle in which he says no to alcohol, drugs and promiscuity. After reading about a lot about the “typical” lifestyle of a professional athlete ,and knowing a little bit about it from being a collegiate athlete myself, it is easy to see how difficult maintaining this lifestyle is. I use the term “typical” lightly because I can’t say exactly how all of these stars live away from the game they play, but you hear more bad than good most of the time.
The late addition of Cliff Lee is the best move of the year and should be more than enough for the Rangers general manager to be named GM of the year. Cliff Lee is a work horse that will give you nine innings no matter what. What impresses me most about Lee is that no matter where he goes, all you hear from his teammates is that he has the best work ethic of anyone they have ever played with and that he is one of the best teammates anyone has ever played with. That’s what you respect about athletes.
Michael Young. ‘Nuff said. The guy has been with the Rangers forever. For the good. For the bad. He is the model of consistency and persistence. He has set the franchise record for hits and doesn’t look like he will stop any time soon. He moved from shortstop to second base for A-Rod, moved to short to make room for Alfonso Soriano and moved from short to third to make room for Elvis Andrus. Unselfish, humble, deserving- all come to mind when you talk about Young.
Lastly, Vlad. I was very disappointed to hear that the Rangers declined Vlad’s team option for next season, but that’s baseball. This year Vlad provided MVP type numbers which allowed Josh Hamilton to have the protection to put up the undoubtedly MVP-deserving numbers that he did this season. Vlad did all of this after he was written off by most other teams in baseball. People thought he was too old, too slow. As someone that is likely in their last year of competitive, collegiate athletics, I would do anything for the opportunity that the Rangers provided Vlad- the chance to say, ‘I’m not done yet.’
There are countless stories that go with this team that I have left unaddressed, but these are my personal favorites and they are why I am a fan of the 2010 Rangers. Say what you will, but I don’t think I’m a bandwagon fan.
In anticipation of tonight’s World Series opener, let’s crank out a quick preview with a few things to look for:
1. Will this be the fastest World Series game ever played? The matchup is being played in one of the pitcher-friendliest ballparks in MLB, the starting pitchers have turned out two of the three best pitching performances thus far in the post season, and the nerves will most likely be eating at both teams’ batters. I don’t want to take the easy way out and suggest this game could very easily end up in a 1-0 box score…but this game could very easily end up with a 1-0 box score. Lincecum had the great start at home in the game one NLDS destruction of the Atlanta Braves that may have been more dominating than Halladay’s no hitter. Cliff Lee is Cliff Lee. ‘Nuff Said. I expect both guys to cruise through the lineups early and unless Lincecum allows his pitch count to get too high, both starters could very easily still be in the game in the eighth and deeper.
2. Can the Giants keep up their timely hitting? The Giants thus far have been the kings of winning close games. Their run output may not be impressive, but every time this team needed to get a rally going or get a big hit, they came through in a big way (the NLDS game four is the best example). This is usually the mark of a great playoff team, but obviously it’s not something that can be relied upon forever. Will the small layoff hurt the Giants’ momentum? Will this bunch of “misfits” continue to prove everyone stupid? I’m not betting against them.
3. Will the Giants challenge Josh Hamilton at the plate? We can all pretty much agree by now that the Giants have the best pitching staff in the big leagues and it is mostly responsible for their appearance in the fall classic. But how confident is Giants manager Bruce Bochy that his team can get the soon-to-be AL MVP out on a consistent basis? Hamilton has been owning playoff pitching to the tune of 4 HRs and 8 RBI. Would the Giants actually pull out the Barry Bonds treatment–the MLB equivalent of the Hack-a-Shaq–and intentionally walk Hamilton when he comes up with no one on base? It will be interesting to see especially given that the Giants rely heavily on right-handed pitching. My guess is that the Giants will challenge him at AT&T Park but in Arlington we might see them refuse to pitch to the Rangers star. Even the mighty Yankees bowed to Hamilton’s greatness.
Prediction: We just can’t bet against Cliff Lee in a playoff game. Rangers take game one 2-1.
No explanation needed here. A pretty cool moment.
Nolan Ryan testified in a Fort Worth bankruptcy court yesterdaythat he wants the auction of the Rangers to take place as scheduled on August 4th. Ryan, who was testifying in his role as the current President of the Rangers, said that a delay in the auction of the team could prevent them from re-signing star Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is eligible for salary arbitration and is competing for the AL MVP award with Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. As a baseball fan, hope that the auction date gets put back like the creditors want. The reason Ryan wants the auction date set for Aug 4th is so that no rivals can muster up the capital that is going to be needed to purchase the team. The creditors have sought a later date because the bid from the Ryan group will not come close to paying off the debts of Tom Hicks. If given more time, it is highly likely that Mavs owner Mark Cuban could successfully bid for the Rangers. [Dallas Morning News]
By Nick Childs
What’s up Generation Y?
It’s a beautiful Thursday, and I am in a great mood, so let’s talk about what is going right in the world of sports, this morning.
The MVP race in the American League is one of the more intriguing stories in baseball right now. I think it’s going to shake down to be a battle between Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera, and if you ask me, it is a win-win either way. Both guys have made big strides in life off of the baseball diamond, and that is always great to see. In a world where so many athletes go the opposite direction, Cabrera and Hamilton have cleaned up their acts and become men–real men with incredible talent. After overcoming troubles with alcohol (and weight), Cabrera has come into his own and shown the brilliance everyone saw while he was coming up in the Marlins. And we all know Hamilton’s story. Both players are very easy to root for. Both men have a legitimate shot at winning the elusive Triple-Crown this year.
As far as the MVP race goes, I have to go against one of my favorite columnists, Tim Cowlishaw, and give the edge to Hamilton. The reason for this is his ability to make plays on both defense and the base-paths, as well as at the plate. With the steroid era having come and gone, the game has shifted from the “big-fly” to a more balanced game. Speed and defense are essentials to a great team, and Hamilton gives the Rangers that. Plus, he hits for average and power. He is a five-tool player.
Hamilton started off the year incredibly slow, but in the last couple months, he has been on an imrpessive streak, raising up to being in the top five in just about every important offensive category. I only see him continuing to improve and he will edge out Cabrera by a small margin. It doesn’t hurt that the Rangers have a five game lead in their division.