As the 2011 season draws to a close, most of the playoff teams have staked their claim on a postseason berth. Only the wildcard qualifications have yet to be determined and those will excitingly come down to the final games of the season. While I was opposed to the wildcard implementation in 1995, I now see that it promotes exciting September baseball and affords the best non-division winner to overcome divisional deficiencies and still make the postseason. I do reserve the right to plead with the Commissioner and MLB to refrain from further expanding the wildcard and prevent fixing what isn’t broken.
Individual awards will not be announced until mid-November but they are only predicated upon regular season statistics. In March 2011 I made predictions on this very web portal regarding NL & AL Cy Young, MVP and Rookie of the Year.
My Manager of the Year picks:
AL Manager – Buck Showalter, BAL With all due respect to Joe Maddon and Jim Leyland, Buck Showalter has a much larger hill to climb trying to save the Baltimore Orioles franchise. Despite their 2010 and 2011 season records, Showalter has amassed 99 victories over the past 13 months. Moreover the team has been playing much better during the month of September in a spoiler role and can put some icing on that cake in the season finale.
NL Manager – Clint Hurdle, PIT Most writers will go for the manager that has most wins on the season (Manuel) or perhaps largest separation between division winner and their second place team (Leyland) or new manager taking his team’s division for the first time in 30 years (Roenicke). Even Kirk Gibson took his squad from worst to first.
Clint Hurdle took over the Pittsburgh Pirates, a franchise that has been losing for the better part of a generation. Not since 1992 have the Pirates sniffed the playoffs and on July 15, 2011 Clint Hurdle had his Pirates in first place. There is hope in Pittsburgh and we’re not talking about the Steelers for a change.
|NL Manager of Year||TEAM||W||L||COMMENT|
|Kirk Gibson||Arizona||93||66||Worst to First for Sparky’s legacy|
|Tony La Russa||St. Louis||88||71||How many postseason appearances?|
|Clint Hurdle||Pittsburgh||71||88||July 15 first place first time in 19 years|
|Charlie Manuel||Philadelphia||99||60||Best record in MLB; Fifth NL East title – what more can be said? Don’t ask Charlie that!!!|
|Ron Roenicke||Milwaukee||94||65||First Division title since 1982; Mike Scocia’s coaching tree includes Joe Maddon and Bud Black as well!|
|AL Manager of Year||TEAM||W||L||COMMENT|
|Terry Francona||Boston||89||70||Wins 90 games and lose a job for a 9 game lead? Possible|
|Ron Washington||Texas||93||66||2010 AL Championship wasn’t fluke but still no respect|
|Jim Leyland||Detroit||92||67||No one picks Leyland to win and yet he often does. Why?|
|Buck Showalter||Baltimore||67||92||100 wins since August 2010|
|Joe Maddon||Tampa Bay||88||71||when will this manager get respect?|
Still to come will be Rookie of the Year candidates as well as GM of the Year and comeback player of the year. You’ve seen Cy Young Award, MVP candidates and Manager of the Year candidates. Voting will proceed through the final week of the regular season and postseason – though postseason stats and performance will not count for these regular season awards.
MLB Wildcard Podcast Forum
Brenda Sepanek (Boston Red Sox), John Morgo (Atlanta Braves) and Matthew Hesse (Arizona Diamondbacks) join Adrian Fedkiw (Philadelphia Phillies) to discuss the AL & NL Wild Card.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org