Baseball Awards, pt. 2 & DFTU
Hello again everybody...
Happy Wednesday to you all. I hope you're somewhere warm, because I'm sure as hell not. Winter has hit the Twin Cities this week, and when you throw in the "wind tunnel" effect in downtown Minneapolis, well, let's just say it wasn't the most pleasant walk into work today!
But no worries, I made it in! Did a number on my hair though!
I'll let that one marinate for a second...
Okay, so today I'm running down the winners of the rest of the baseball awards and comment on one that I thought was a rather large surprise. Then it's this week's version of the DFTU. Off we go...
"The purpose of life is to fight maturity."
- Dick Werthimer, American author
That's right folks... Dan Cook... Fighting maturity for 34 years and still going strong!
When I last talked about baseball, we were about two-thirds of the way through the major awards. Here are the rest, along with who I voted for:
AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians
Dan's Pick: Lee
This one qualified as one of several "no-brainers" in this years awards. Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. That's sick enough on it's own, but when you consider how much Cleveland struggled this year, it's truly amazing.
Mildly surprising was the fact that it wasn't unanimous. Lee got 24 of a possible 28 first-place votes. Roy Halladay got the other 4. Halladay is a perennial contender for the award, so I'm not surprised he placed second. But with the kind of year Lee had, I'm not sure how a voter justifies voting Halladay first. But that's just me.
NL Most Valuable Player: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Dan's Pick: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
You can color me fairly well floored on this one. I know that Howard's average was low and strikeouts were high for your usual MVP candidate, but I was fairly well shocked that Pujols got this award.
Howard led the league in home runs and RBI, which means of the 3 triple-crown statistics, the only one Pujols beat Howard is was batting average. And let's not forget Howard helped get his team into the playoffs. Pujols didn't do that.
If the voting had been closer, I might not be grumbling about it so much. Pujols got 18 first-place votes to Howard's 12. And Pujols won by 60 points. Some chuckle-head out there actually voted Howard 10th. 10th?! Really? Carlos Delgado was more valuable than Ryan Howard? What was that dude smoking?! Wow.
Okay, I'm moving on...
AL Most Valuable Player: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (whom I hate)
Dan's Pick: Pedroia
Thought you'd seen the last of the "(whom I hate)" for the year hadn't you! Well don't blame me, blame Pedroia for winning the MVP by default.
Pedroia's numbers (.326, 17, 83) don't bowl you over, but then again, neither did anybody elses. Justin Morneau of the Twins finished second in the balloting, which further proves that had he not disappeared over the last 2 weeks of the regular season, he likely would've won the award.
Oddly enough, the top 4 vote-getters came from just two teams. Pedroia and Kevin Youklis from the Red Sox (whom I hate) finished first and third respectively. Morneau and Joe Mauer from the Twins finished second and fourth. This further shows that the voters had a hard time making up their minds.
So that finishes off the awards. Looking through my ballot I ended up 5-3 for the 8 awards. Above .500 again! Who says 2008 is a bad year?!
Finally today it's time for everybody's favorite segment, Dan's Favorite Teams Update!
Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 6-5 (3-5 in the Big 10).
I described my feelings on the Wisconsin/Minnesota game on Monday, so I won't belabor those points. *cough* 12 out of 15 *cough*
But more importantly for Wisconsin, they've come to the end of their Big 10 campaign and finished 3-5. Certainly not the result I was hoping for at the beginning of the season, but I'll give the club credit for not folding after their atrocious 0-4 start in the conference. Finishing 3-1 sounds better than 3-5, so I'll focus on that.
Beating Minnesota guaranteed that the Badgers will go to their 11 straight bowl game. It's not quite Michigan's streak of 33 that ended this year, but it's not bad!
And after the Badgers get done mopping up with Cal Poly this week, they'll be 7-5 on the year which I imagine will be good enough to get them to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, AZ, on New Year's Eve. I actually thought about trying to get down there, but I can't get that day off. Maybe I can convince my folks to go root for Bucky for me, assuming that's where they end up!
As I said, the Badgers finish up the 2008 regular season on Saturday with a non-conference tilt against Cal Poly. So after next week, the football team will take a hiatus until the bowl game. Fortunately, the college hoops season is getting underway, so never fear, the Badgers will continue to be a DFTU staple!
Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 11-4-1, with 23 points and back in first place in the Northwest Division.
Slowly but surely the Wild are getting healthy. Marian Gaborik's still on the shelf with that balky groin. But Brent Burns and Owen Nolan have both made their way back into the lineup.
The Wild's top line of Mikko Koivu centering Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunette leads the team in scoring, and have stepped up nicely in Gaborik's abscence.
But as usual, defense has been the Wild's calling card. And that starts with the man between the pipes. Nicklas Backstrom remains amongst the league leaders in wins, save percentage and goals against average.
And though the Wild defense-corps still inexplicably includes Martin Skoula, they've gotten faster and more skilled with the additions of Marek Zidlicky and Marc Andre Bergeron. Their ability to not only stand up in their own zone, but quickly transition the puck to the offensive zone has made a huge difference for the Wild this year.
I'm cautiously optimistic based on the results so far. I didn't like the team's chances coming into the season, but perhaps the losses of Rolston and Dimetria will turn out to be "addition by subtraction". I'm not saying they're bad guys, but it's pretty clear that they weren't happy with Jacques Lemaire's system. And no matter how talented you are, if you don't like the way you're being asked to play, there's no way you'll realize your full potential.
So maybe the Wild have a chance to make a nice run in the playoffs after all. We'll see. There's still a lot of season to go.
The Wild start their stretch of 8 of 9 at home tomorrow night when they face the Vancouver Canucks at the Xcel Energy Center. They host St. Louis on Saturday and the Washington Capitals on Monday. Oh, and that little squad from Dallas pays a visit to the X one week from tonight!
That's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow with the usual smorgasbord of college football. Until then, thanks for reading!
Posted by Dan Cook at 1:14 PM