Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Award Pages Updated

An early wish for a Happy Thanksgiving! I'm just checking in to announce a few updates to some older posts:

The Second Place Award Winners, Rookie of the Year Facts and Which Team Had the Most Cy Young Winners? have all undergone some changes. Now that the major award winners have been announced, the first two come complete with 2010 information. The last one didn't require any data updates, but it was originally constructed as a standalone post, so I made some edits in order that it might be updated more easily should any future staff be laden with Cy Young winners.

If you've read them already, go ahead, enjoy 'em again! If you haven't read them yet, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PTWSW #70: The 1973 Oakland A's

Manager: Dick Williams
Record: 94-68
Ballpark: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Owner: Charles O. Finley
Coaches: Jerry Adair, Vern Hoscheit, Irv Noren, Wes Stock

Future Hall of Famers: Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson

All-Stars: Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Rollie Fingers, Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Reggie Jackson, .293
OBP: Gene Tenace, .387
SLG: Reggie Jackson, .531 (AL leader)
OPS: Reggie Jackson, .914 (AL leader)
2B: Sal Bando, 32 (AL leader)
3B: Bert Campaneris, 6
HR: Reggie Jackson, 32 (AL leader)
RBI: Reggie Jackson, 117 (AL leader)
BB: Gene Tenace, 101
SB: Bill North, 53

Team Leaders, Pitching

W: Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, 21
SO: Vida Blue, 158
ERA: Ken Holtzman, 2.97
IP: Ken Holtzman, 297.1
CG: Ken Holtzman, 16
SHO: Vida Blue, Ken Holtzman, 4
K/BB: Ken Holtzman, 2.38
SV: Rollie Fingers, 22


Oldest Player: Vic Davalillo (b. July 31, 1936)

Youngest Player: Glenn Abbott (b. February 16, 1951)

First to Leave Us: Gonzalo Marquez (d. December 20, 1984)

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Deron Johnson (debut September 20, 1960)

Last in Majors: Manny Trillo (final game May 20, 1989)

First to Play For the Franchise: Deron Johnson (June 15, 1961)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Reggie Jackson (October 4, 1987)

Pre-union Team: The 1968 Cleveland Indians had four: Vic Davalillo, Ray Fosse, Rob Gardner and Horacio Pina.

Reunion Team: The 1978 New York Yankees had five: Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Jay Johnstone and Paul Lindblad. Perhaps George Steinbrenner targeted these guys because he knew they could win under a meddlesome, overbearing owner.


Reggie Jackson, AL MVP

Season Summary

Like the previous season, the A's were a top offensive team. They tied for the AL lead in OPS+, were third in homers and second in steals. They were great at avoiding double plays, grounding into the second-fewest twin killings despite frequently being on base, and it may have been what allowed them to score the most runs per game despite playing in a heavy pitcher's park. Their defense was once again fantastic, finishing second in TotalZone and DER, which helped their contact-oriented pitching staff post the fourth-best ERA+ in the Junior Circuit.

After winning the 1972 World Championship, the A's added some new faces to their lineup in hopes of a repeat. Former Cub outfielder Bill North took over in center, allowing Reggie Jackson to shift to right. First baseman Mike Epstein and catcher Dave Duncan were shipped out, allowing defensively-challenged catcher Gene Tenace's bat to stay in the lineup at first and new acquisition Ray Fosse to take over catching duties. Fosse wasn't the hitter Duncan or Tenace was, but his defense was superb, with 56% of opposing baserunners getting nabbed.

The AL West was a tightly-packed division for the first half of the season. The A's were as low as fifth place in June, but they were never more than six games back. On June 10 Oakland pulled above .500 for good, and before the month was out they'd worked their way into first. The second half was when the standings loosened up, and from August onward it was a two-team race between Oakland and Kansas City. On August 11 the Royals held a two-game lead, but the A's went on a 13-1 run to go up by five. By mid-September the A's had the division all but wrapped up, and they would win the West by six games.

Just as in 1972, the A's were shorthanded during the playoffs; Bill North injured his ankle at the end of September and was sidelined for October. Despite missing their leading base thief, the A's were able to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the maximum five games in the ALCS. Catfish Hunter was the pitching star of the series, earning a win in Game 2, then tossing a shutout in the clincher. Bert Campaneris was the offensive star, batting .333 and hitting two homers (after clouting only four dingers during the season).

The surprising New York Mets were all that stood in the way of back-to-back Oakland titles. The Amazins had won the weak NL East with an 82-79 record, then upset the 99-win Reds in the NLCS. The A's won a Game 1 pitching duel, but the Mets showed the same mettle they had in reaching the Series by winning Game 2 in twelve innings. Oakland second baseman Mike Andrews allowed Game 2's deciding runs to score on two consecutive errors, and owner Charlie O. Finley was so incensed that he tried to get Andrews replaced on the roster by rookie Manny Trillo. It took an overruling by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to prevent the move. The two teams split the next four to send the Series to Game 7, and the final match was decided in the third inning, when Campaneris and Reggie Jackson each hit two-run homers (the only Oakland round-trippers of the Series). The A's would hold onto the lead for a 5-2 win.

The A's became the first team to win back-to-back World Series since the 1961-62 Yankees. The victory was bittersweet though, as manager Dick Williams resigned immediately after Game 7, citing "personal reasons." Jackson was named MVP of the Series for his six RBI and five extra-base hits.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Best Baseball-Reference Sponsorships, 2010 Edition

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! Last year my humble little blog received national attention for a post I made called "The Best of Baseball-Reference's Sponsorship Comments." It was linked by Big League Stew, Rob Neyer, Baseball Think Factory...shoot, the sucker went viral! It was one of my proudest moments, because after several quiet months of independent blogging I suddenly had readers as well as commenters! I'm eternally grateful to those who linked it, and to the sponsors whose cleverness I was privileged to spotlight.

That post went up exactly one year ago today, so I decided it was time for Part 2. Some of the sponsorships from last year's list are still around, while others have expired, but either way, none of them will be eligible this time. Reruns are boring, and besides, there were a ton of great new ones this year.

Since my "honorable mentions" post didn't get as much attention as I'd hoped, I thought I'd include the ones that barely missed the cut here. Though there are many more I could've listed, in the interest of space I'll limit it to my favorite eight. Here's the Just-Short Crew:

Eric Gagne
Review WCW Anonymous Sponsor sponsor(s) this page.

It is time to give Chris Sabo back his goggles Eric. CAREER OVER
Nice. Pro wrestling-style trash-talk and an old-school ballplayer reference. Two early-30's flameouts for the price of one.

Bobby Keppel
kcchia80 sponsor(s) this page.

If nothing else, he will always be remembered for winning Game 163 against the Tigers. Sure, he probably hit Brandon Inge, and sure, the pitch he got Gerald Laird to swing at for strike 3 was a mile out of the strike zone. But, hey, you won the game.
Sheesh. Talk about damned by faint praise!

Steve Adkins
I have no recollection of your existence. sponsor(s) this page.

Questions: Why was I so devoted to a team this terrible? Why do I have no memory of this guy at all? And why did he think the best use of his Ivy League degree was walking more than a batter per inning?
In the 20 years since Adkins stunk it up for the Yankees we're still waiting for a good pitcher to come out of the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeff Liefer
A broken door handle sponsor(s) this page.

"I don't want to be remembered as the guy who got stuck in the bathroom."
It would appear to be pure nepotism for me to include this one in the top ten, as Mr. Door Handle commented on last year's post to tell me I'd inspired him. Still, you can't deny that it's pretty funny.

John Lackey
Benedict Arnold sponsor(s) this page.

John Lackey won game 7 of the World Series as a rookie, and game one of the 2009 ALDS to begin a 3 game sweep. Then he betrayed the Angels for an 82 million dollar payout.
When even America's most infamous traitor thinks you're a dirty double-crosser, you know you're in bad company.

Corey Patterson
Walkoff Walk sponsor(s) this page.

Corey Patterson does a lot of things well. Batting leadoff is not one of them.
As adult narrator Kevin on The Wonder Years would say: "And there you have it."

Jason Schmidt
Darryl Abbate sponsor(s) this page.

The guy was an ace for the Giants, then signed with the Dodgers and got paid $45 million for just 3 wins. What's not to love?
Come to think of it, that did work out pretty well!

Rheal Cormier
Nofe sponsor(s) this page.

[To the tune of “King of Pain”] I grew up playing hockey but I changed my game I came south of the border to pursue my fame I’m the French-speaking lefty with the circle change And it is my destiny to be Rheal Cormier... Cormier... I will always be Cormier....
And now it's in your head. I couldn't resist mentioning this one because, well, who comes up with a Police song parody for a journeyman reliever? This Nofe person must be a true original.

So bravo, guys (or girls, for all I know). Maybe next year you'll find your way into the top ten! Speaking of the top ten, let's get to them now!

10. Willie Keeler
Phil Dellio sponsor(s) this page.

My whole problem when I used to play: I hit it where they were, if at all.
As a fellow terrible athlete, I know exactly how Mr. Dellio feels. How clever though, to take Keeler's famous quote ("Hit it where they ain't") and present the flipside so many more of us are familiar with. Hey, some of us were born to play the game, and some of us were born to pass on our appreciation of the game to others. It's not so bad on this end.

9. Brian Wilson
Mitch Williams sponsor(s) this page.

I'm still picking the Phillies to win in 5 games
I've noticed something in recent years: The San Francisco Giants just might have the funniest fans in baseball. I'm serious. It seems like every time I come across a Giant blog, website, BB-Ref sponsor, etc. I find myself chuckling. I hope they don't lose their edge now that their team finally has a World Series trophy. Self-deprecating pessimism can go a long way.

This message brings back memories of 2005, when we Sox fans fed off much of the same media disrespect. We also got Steve Perry to sing "Don't Stop Believin'" at the victory rally and busted a substantial drought, so the whole experience must've been déjà vu for Aaron Rowand and Juan Uribe.

8. Ryan Doumit
An Anonymous Supporter sponsor(s) this page.

Even though it's his position, let's be real; calling Doumit a "catcher" is like calling diarrhea "constipation"
Doumit's never had much credibility as a backstop, and it looks like he'll have to change positions before too long if he hopes to remain in the majors. This anonymous fan, employing a colorful simile, takes it a step further by claiming that Doumit is the exact opposite of a catcher. What is our friend Ryan then, if he's the acid to catching's base? Let's see...it means he can't call pitches, handle balls thrown his way, guard the plate, throw out baserunners...I guess he's either a designated hitter or a pinch-runner, then?

7. Joe McGinnity
Breckerplace sponsor(s) this page.

There's no Iron Man 2
Ideally, we'd have a unique appreciation for each of our Hall of Famers. It's more special when a player represents something extraordinary, whether it be a superlative achievement or a rare attribute that makes him induplicable. Joe McGinnity may be a lower-tier Hall of Famer, but be does have one thing that distinguishes him from the pack: the nickname "Iron Man." Why, it conjures up the image of a superhuman stalwart whose arm could be pushed far beyond the limits of realistic expectation! Indeed, McGinnity was a workhorse, pitching over 40 games and 300 innings all but one season of his ten-year career, exceeding 50 and 400 twice.

Cal Ripken may share the nickname, but in this era of pitch counts we look back on a hurler who could wear the "Iron Man" moniker with awe. McGinnity's place in baseball history is secure because unlike his cinematic nicknamesake, there is no much-hyped sequel.

6. Eugenio Velez
The McCoven sponsor(s) this page.

When sponsoring a profile, I have to be focused. I was focused. The thing is, it happened.
Confused? So was I at first. Seeing as how this message linked to the legendary McCovey Chronicles though (sponsors of last year's #1), I knew there had to be a really funny joke in there somewhere.

Fortunately, I got to the bottom of it: Back in April, Velez misplayed a Shane Victorino fly ball in extra innings which allowed a crucial insurance run to score. When discussing it with reporters afterwards, Velez's comment was: “In that situation, I have to be focused. I was focused. The thing is, it happened.”

It all makes sense now. To lose is one thing, but to lose because of such an embarrassing miscue? Maddening. There's not much a fan can do about it, except...sentence the player to a year of humiliation by posting a variation of his inarticulate, borderline-nonsensical postgame remark on his BB-Ref page! Like I said above: Giant fans are a witty bunch.

5. 1903 New York Highlanders
Burlin White sponsor(s) this page.

What could be worse than stealing another city's team? Fitting start for such a "classy" organization.
Before you say anything, yes, I know there's some debate over whether the New York Highlanders were in fact connected with the old Baltimore Orioles. I'm also aware that the Baltimore franchise was a mess and that moving it to New York made financial sense for the American League. Still, we non-Yankee fans have been beaten over the head with this notion that the Yankees epitomize "class" for such a long time that you can't blame us for wanting to puke every time we hear it. Sometimes a questionable-but-not-completely-meritless accusation is a small counterargument we can cling to. To this sponsorship message I say: Ich bin ein Burliner!

4. Gustavo Molina
Howard Megdal sponsor(s) this page.

WARNING: This is not an authentic Catching Molina Brother.
It's brilliant because it provides a necessary service. I still remember the first time I became aware of this player's existence. I was following a White Sox game on MLB Gameday and a name in the live box score caught my eye. "Molina? Catcher? Could it be?" I thought. Excited, I immediately scoured the internet until I received the disappointing confirmation that there wasn't a fourth Molina sibling in the big leagues. In the event of any future misplaced excitement, one need only visit Gustavo's BB-Ref page to see the distinctive yellow certificate of inauthenticity.

3. Brad Mills
A Friend in the Bronx sponsor(s) this page.

General Mills and Minute Maid Park. First in cereal, first in juice and fifth in the NL Central.
I love it. Clearly it's a play on the old Washington Senators vaudeville joke: "First in war, first in peace and last in the American League." It's a shame the Astros finished in fourth place, or it would've fit perfectly. We have to rank the Central teams by their Pythag if we want Houston to come in fifth. Perhaps "General" Mills is on his way to becoming the new Mike Scioscia.

2. Kevin Joseph
James Kunz sponsor(s) this page.

Without your clutch hold on 8/15/02 (2 runs in 0.2 innings of a 11-5 STL victory) we may well not have won the division. Go Kevin Joseph!
Just drips with sarcasm, doesn't it? This long-forgotten middle reliever, with only eleven big league appearances to his name, earned his one career "hold" in what ironically may have been his worst outing for the 2002 Cards. Is it any wonder no one really gives a crap about that superfluous statistic? Oh, and in case you were curious, the Cardinals had a four-game division lead that day and went on to win the NL Central by 13 games. With this sponsorship message, Kevin Joseph's little-viewed page becomes a shrine to his inconsequentiality.

1. Pat Bourque
Grant Sbrocco sponsor(s) this page.

In 1972 at the tender age of 9 I heard Jack Brickhouse say "and Pat Bourque is looking for a bat" to which I shouted at the television "I hope he doesn't find one" to this day I still get tickled when I remember this great moment in Cubs History
Oh, the joys of self-amusement. I know many a joke I've told can now be found in the "ones only I laughed at" file. Judging by the description here, little Grant's joke was of the same variety. No matter. I don't blame him for being proud to this day of that spontaneous rejoinder (and elevating it to the level of a landmark moment for the Chicago Cubs franchise) because, well...I'm still proud of my own wisecracks too. Even when no one else laughs, deep down you know that if someone with the right sense of humor had been present there would've been guffaws all around. I know I laughed when I first read this message, so Grant, if you're reading this: You're not alone, buddy.

It was a lot of work putting this post together, but it was worth clicking through an endless number of pages to uncover these various gems. Think you can come up with something better? Sponsor a page on Baseball-Reference and you just might see it here this time next year!

Friday, November 5, 2010

PTWSW #69: The 1972 Oakland A's

Manager: Dick Williams
Record: 93-62
Ballpark: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Owner: Charles O. Finley
Coaches: Jerry Adair, Vern Hoscheit, Irv Noren, Bill Posedel

Future Hall of Famers: Orlando Cepeda, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson,

All-Stars: Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Joe Rudi, .305
OBP: Mike Epstein, .376
SLG: Mike Epstein, .490
OPS: Mike Epstein, .866
2B: Joe Rudi, 32
3B: Joe Rudi, 9 (AL leader)
HR: Mike Epstein, 26
RBI: Sal Bando, 77
BB: Sal Bando, 78
SB: Bert Campaneris, 52 (AL leader)

Team Leaders, Pitching

W: Catfish Hunter, 21
SO: Catfish Hunter, 191
ERA: Catfish Hunter, 2.04
IP: Catfish Hunter, 295.1
CG: Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, 16
SHO: Catfish Hunter, 5
K/BB: Catfish Hunter, 2.73
SV: Rollie Fingers, 21


Oldest Player: Joe Horlen (b. August 14, 1937). Horlen was just three days older than teammate Diego Segui.

Youngest Player: George Hendrick (b. October 18, 1949)

First to Leave Us: Gonzalo Marquez (d. December 20, 1984). Marquez, then a player-coach for the Caracas Leones of the Venezuelan Winter League, was killed by a drunk driver while on his way home from a game.

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Orlando Cepeda (debut April 15, 1958)

Last in Majors: George Hendrick (final game October 2, 1988)

First to Play For the Franchise: Diego Segui (April 12, 1962). Segui was traded to the Cardinals in June, so he unfortunately didn't get to be a part of the victory celebration.

Last to Play For the Franchise: Reggie Jackson (October 4, 1987)

Pre-union Team: The 1969 Seattle Pilots had six: Ron Clark, Larry Haney, Mike Hegan, Bob Locker, Don Mincher and Diego Segui.

Reunion Team: The 1973 St. Louis Cardinals had four: Matty Alou, Dwain Anderson, Larry Haney and Diego Segui.

Season Summary

The A's were one of the most colorful teams to come along in years. They wore flashy green and gold uniforms, sported moustaches and long hair, and were constantly making headlines thanks to controversial and outspoken owner Charlie O. Finley. Their owner and look weren't the only thing that set them apart; they were also the best team in the American League. The "Swingin' A's" led the AL in OPS+ and home runs, and were second in slugging, though their batting and on-base averages were only middle-of-the-road. They finished third in steals thanks mostly to shortstop Bert Campaneris' league-leading 52 swipes. They were also strong on the other side of the ball, with a third-ranked TotalZone and ERA+. Their staff exhibited good control, with a low walk rate and the second-fewest hit batsmen and wild pitches.

After the brief strike that delayed Opening Day by a week, the biggest early-season story was the holdout of 1971 Cy Young winner and MVP Vida Blue. Blue eventually agreed to terms in early May and made his debut at the end of the month, but he never shook off the rust, as he didn't live up to the standard he'd set the year before. It was OK though, as Catfish Hunter, Blue Moon Odom and offseason addition Ken Holtzman picked up the slack in the starting rotation. Oakland spent most of the year leading the AL West, though the White Sox briefly pulled ahead with a hot August. The A's responded by tinkering with their starting lineup, putting Gene Tenace at catcher and new acquisition Matty Alou in right field. The A's quickly jumped back into first, and they went on to win the division by 5.5 games.

The ALCS against the Tigers was a dramatic affair, going the full five games, two being decided on extra-inning comebacks. The A's won the first two in Oakland, and in Game 2 Campaneris got himself suspended for the rest of the series for throwing his bat at Detroit reliever Lerrin LaGrow. The Tigers took the next two at home to even things up, their Game 4 victory coming on a three-run rally in the tenth inning. Missing their leadoff man and coming off a crushing defeat, the A's had to win Game 5 in Detroit the very next day. They ended up being successful, as Odom and Blue allowed only one run between them. The only bad news to come out of the final game was that center fielder Reggie Jackson was injured stealing home and had to miss the World Series.

The World Series matchup provided a distinct contrast between the shaggy, stylish A's and the conservative, clean-cut Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati was favored to win it, especially so with Jackson sidelined. The A's quickly erased any doubts that they could compete with Cincy by winning the first two games on the road. Tenace's two homers provided the margin of victory in Game 1, and left fielder Joe Rudi saved Game 2 by robbing the Reds' Denis Menke of an extra-base hit in the ninth. The Reds bounced back with a 1-0 victory in Game 3, but the A's took a 3-1 series lead by scoring two runs on four straight singles in the ninth inning of Game 4. The Reds weren't done yet, winning the next two to force Game 7 in Cincinnati. Like they had in the ALCS, the A's won the sudden death game on the road. Tenace was again the hero, driving in two runs in Oakland's 3-2 victory. It was the franchise's first World Series title since 1930, when it was based in Philadelphia and Connie Mack was the owner. Tenace was named Series MVP for his .348 average, four homers and nine RBI.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Chapter Worth Highlighting

It was a long time coming (53 years, to be exact), but the Giants have finally brought a championship to their fans in the Bay Area. Even though I was slightly rooting for the Rangers (and remain disappointed that the Series didn't go at least six games), this is a grand moment for the game of baseball, one that should never be forgotten. Unlike last year, I don't have to write a lament about a predictable, anti-climactic ending. Instead, 2010 proved to be a season worthy of celebration. Legacies have been written and rewritten, and posterity will view several franchises and figures in a different light than we did before Opening Day.

The San Francisco Giants, while not always a marquee franchise, have always been one of the most noted. As descendants of the New York Giants, they headed west in 1957 surely expecting to continue the proud winning tradition they built in the Big Apple. Instead, the San Francisco legacy became one of great players, a miserable ballpark and a frustrating inability to capture that elusive World Series title. While they don't quite have a national following, their pessimistic-yet-loyal fans are an abundant group.

On Monday everything changed. No longer are fans tormented by years of failure, the type that weighs on the mind until it feels like cosmic destiny. Just as the Giants' miserable old ballpark has been out of the picture for eleven years, so now is the monkey on the backs of Giant fans. 2010 represents the beginning of a new era, one where the fans believe, because they once saw it with their own eyes. Boston Red Sox fans were in the same boat six years ago, and they went from pessimistic to empowered almost overnight. Not only does this win reshape the franchise's image, the halo effect may trickle down to the individuals within the organization.

Bruce Bochy has long been viewed as a good manager, but you'd have a hard time finding anyone who rates him among the best in the game. He's now a member of the select "pennants with two franchises" club and has a World Series title to his name. While he's not (yet) a Tony LaRussa-like superstar, he may have reached the level of a Lou Piniella-like star.

Brian Sabean has developed a reputation among baseball's intelligentsia as one of the worst general managers in the game, mainly due to his poor spending decisions. In spite of it all, he's now the big name in a championship-winning front office, which is what he'll be associated with from now on. That Barry Zito signing? Yep, a big mistake. That World Series title? Hey, he must be doing something right!

Tim Lincecum's career is only four years old, and with two Cy Young Awards on his mantel no one would deny that he's one of baseball's best young pitchers. The only thing is, before this year he was most famous for being "The Freak," that long-haired guy with the quirky mechanics and a free-spirited personality. For all his greatness, he still seemed more like a fun character than a potential Hall of Famer. Yes, it was partly due to his youth and relative newness, but I imagine if he were a more conventional guy he'd have inspired a greater sense of awe. With a World Series-clinching win on his resume at the age of 26, he's finally acquired that air of a legend. We can be sure that wherever his career goes from here, whether he flames out or ends up in the Hall of Fame, his memory will be spoken of with reverence by Giant fans. Mere greatness is one thing; using it to lead your team to a title is another.

Then you have the Texas Rangers, perhaps baseball's most overlooked franchise. Before this season they'd made only three postseason appearances, all quick first-round exits. With no postseason accomplishments to speak of, they were a franchise without much of a legacy past their traditional homer-bashing and a long list of steroid suspects. If your rooting interest was in the American League, the Rangers were a team you played a few series with during the regular season and then forgot about. No longer is that the case. The Rangers won their first two playoff series in the same year, and they did it not just with home run power, but with pitching and speed. Nope, these aren't your father's Rangers; these guys have a year of glory in the books, and the tapestry of baseball is only woven with a brighter thread for it.

Texas' season was also special for many individual players. Michael Young, "Mr. Ranger" himself, got to be part of the franchise's first pennant. Vladimir Guerrero, whose Hall of Fame career is nearing the end, won't have to go down in history as one of those greats who never got to play in the World Series. Josh Hamilton, the inspirational story of 2008, suffered through injuries and poor production last year, only to bounce back as the favorite for AL MVP. None of this would've been possible without the acclaimed Texas front office, which is the talk of baseball for the first time I can remember. Whenever the Rangers finally do win a World Series, this season may be the turning point they trace it back to.

The great stories, however, go beyond our World Series participants.

The San Diego Padres were a nearly-unanimous pick for last place in the NL West during Spring Training. To the surprise of just about everyone, they spent most of the season in first place behind a pitching-defense-speed roster construction. Their luck ran out in September, but they still finished with 90 wins and just barely missed the playoffs, nothing to be ashamed of. If San Diego fans aren't too disappointed about the way it ended, this year will be fondly remembered as one where they defied all odds.

Cito Gaston managed the Blue Jays to their only two pennants (and World Series titles) in the early '90s, but that tenure ended with him being fired during the last week of the 1997 season. He never found another managerial job until the Jays brought him back in 2008, and while he didn't reinstitute an era of postseason glory, it gave Gaston the chance to go out on his own terms. He announced at the end of last season that 2010 would be his final year in the dugout, and he was able to walk away to a standing ovation in the Rogers Centre. The fans in Toronto can now remember their only championship manager leaving with dignity, not with an unceremonious dumping.

Scott Rolen, widely considered to be a future Hall of Fame snub, is one of those guys you always think is going to be done soon. I mean, you know he's coming off another good season, but with age and durability issues creeping up on him, you figure the guy can't do it forever, right? This year, at the age of 35, he not only proved the naysayers wrong yet again, he made his first All-Star team in four years while helping the Reds to a playoff appearance. Will Hall of Fame voters take note?

Though his spot in the Hall of Fame seems more secure, Jim Thome was a similar story. After two straight down years that suggested he was nearing the end, Thome managed to put up a 178 OPS+ as a part-time DH for the Twins in a season where he turned 40. It may have been a last hurrah, or it may have been a sign that he's got a few more useful seasons left in the tank. Either way, you couldn't help but feel happy for the guy, even when he was beating your team with home runs.

Roy Halladay has been one of the most respected aces in baseball for some time now, but he was buried in Toronto, away from the daily consciousness of the American media. With his move to the spotlight of Philadelphia, he's more famous now than he ever was. This year he added a perfect game to his legend, and then, if you can believe it possible, found a way to top that performance: In the first playoff start of his career he threw a no-hitter against a heavy-hitting Reds lineup, allowing only one baserunner in the process. He's a near lock to win the Cy Young Award, and if there were ever any doubt about his future in Cooperstown, it's probably gone now.

All in all, 2010 has been a season of redemption for MLB. For me personally, 2009 will be filed under "Forgettable," while 2010 will be a season of cherished memories. I can only hope 2011 will follow in the footsteps of its immediate predecessor.

In other news, baseball season may be over, but it's something of a busy season for Baseball Junk Drawer. First of all, I plan to put up part two of my most popular post to date on November 16, so be on the lookout for that. We also have award winners being announced later this month. I won't offer any predictions, but I do have some lists that can be updated once the winners are released, and I'll be sure to let you know when they are. Will this year give us the third instance of both leagues' Rookies of the Year facing off in the World Series? I know I'm hoping so. I also haven't posted a World Series winner profile in over a month, and I plan to resume production on them soon.