Road Trip: Taking in the Tigers and Orioles at Camden Yards

There are two words in the English language that get me, as Thumper might’ve told Bambi, twitterpated.

Those words … Road Trip!

I suspect it has something to do with my former career as a sports writer when I crisscrossed the Midwest following the team I was covering to various remote outposts.

Doug and his family on the field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards earlier this month.

More likely, however, my love of seeing the home team in enemy territory stems from my upbringing in rural Decatur, Ind., where there was no home team to root for.

We were equidistance from Cincinnati, Chicago, and Cleveland. I suppose you could say my father and I were a couple of the original road warriors.

Whatever the reason, I’ve truly grown to appreciate being a stranger in a strange ballpark, stadium, arena, or concert hall.

The beauty of being that stranger is the discovery. It’s not as though I’ve become Lewis and Clark, but it’s the exhilaration of approaching the gates, handing that smiling face my ticket, and embarking on three hours of new adventures. What unknown architectural wonders, concession stands, and native customs await me after I pass through the turnstiles?

I’ve taken such trips with friends, gone solo, and, more recently, enjoyed the occasional road trip with my family. Mercifully, my wife Carol, daughter Helena, and son Jake, all enjoy baseball enough that two-plus hours at a ballpark are possible.

Such was the case during our Spring Break 2011 trip to Maryland. Following a four-day walking tour of our nation’s capital, we embarked for a couple of days in Baltimore – including a Tigers-Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Continue reading Road Trip: Taking in the Tigers and Orioles at Camden Yards

Cabrera Victim of Circumstance in MVP Race

Who are we kidding? Miguel Cabrera is not winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
And it’s not because of anything he has or hasn’t done.

In any other year Cabrera’s story of redemption would be a much bigger story. It’s just that this year Josh Hamilton‘s road to redemption will likely be more appealing top voters given the obstacles he’s overcome and the fact he’s playing on what’s assuredly a playoff team.

Hamilton, who’s still nursing sore ribs after running into an outfield wall in Minnesota on Sept. 5, has eye-popping stats: a major-league best .361 average, 31 home runs, 97 RBI and a 1.049 OPS.

[callout title=Tigers Often Fall Short of MVP]
Of course, this isn’t the first time a Tigers player has been the victim of the voters’ love affair with players on winning teams.

In 2007, Magglio Ordonez lost out to Alex Rodriguez, and in 1990 and ’91, Cecil Fielder lost out to Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken, respectively.

The most egregious example of the a Tigers player falling short of the MVP award was in 1987 when Alan Trammell did everything right: hit for average, hit for power, played clutch baseball down the stretch and led his team to a division title.

But it still wasn’t enough.

Toronto’s George Bell — who went 1 for 11 against the Tigers in a division-deciding, final-weekend series — won the award. (You can read the post from 2007 in which I wrote about this, here.)[/callout]

Cabrera, as we know, is putting together a year for the ages himself: .333 average, 34 homers, 116 RBI and a 1.052 OPS.

Consider this, though: Cabrera has 30 intentional walks this season, the most in the majors. Hamilton? Five.

What would Cabrera’s stats look like if he’d had the protection of Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and a more consistent Brennan Boesch all season long? Would it be enough to tack 30 points on Cabrera’s average? Doubt it.

Still, Hamilton has the protection of guys like Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler. That has to account for something … maybe a lot.

The big difference between these guys is one number: 9.

That’s the number of wins the Rangers have over the Tigers at the start of play today. Which means that even though writers cast their votes for awards before the postseason begins, Hamilton will be playing in October and whereas Cabrera will not.

Miguel Cabrera can mount a challenge to Hamilton over the next three weeks but it likely won’t change the minds of voters who see Hamilton’s stats, triumphant personal story and winning team as irresistible.

I hope I’m wrong.

What do you think?