It was as good a day in MLB as a day can get in the regular season. Of course, Astros fans will disagree and who can blame them. But the Cubs won the pennant and Roger Clemens pitched his last regular season game and won his 310th game of his historic career. There is one more day in the regular season, but everything is settled now so let's reflect on the Cubs and Roger Clemens.
Let's start with the Cubs. The Cubs lost a lot of ballgames last year. If they didn't lose a hundred, they came close to it. And this year, they were in a dead heat with the Astros with three games to play. But the Cubs couldn't play the first of those three because of a rain out (boy, weren't the Cub fans happy about that!). If you have followed baseball as long as I have, you would know how hard it is to win two games of a double-header. But that's just what the Cubs did.
The Astros didn't have their best pitchers available for the games that were on the line (that's hard to figure) and lost two games to the pesky Brewers and it's over. The Cubs win the pennant. Somewhere, Harry Carey and Leo Durocher are smiling.
Sammy Sosa hit his fortieth homer in the second game. That gives both him and A-Rod six straight forty homer seasons. Of course, Sammy's included three years in the sixties! Sosa has played fourteen years now and has 1450 RBI. The 103 per season would be impressive enough, but Sammy has packed that into ten years as he wasn't a starter in four of his first five seasons. Consider Sosa's run of RBI from 1998 to 2001: 158, 141, 138 and 160. And now he's off to the playoffs. Good luck Cubs!
Roger Clemens pitched his last regular season game today and pitched six strong innings with only a run given up. The win gave the 41 year old 17 for the season (!) and 310 as his final career tally. The reaction he got from Yankee Stadium upon leaving the game was very touching and in a class act, Mike Hargrove and the entire Orioles bench were standing and clapping too.
I have tried in the past to put Clemens' career in perspective and here are some more numbers that may help. In MLB, a quality start is considered six or more innings and three or less runs. Clemens CAREER was a quality start as he averaged 7.01 innings per game and three runs a game.
Roger Clemens pitched thirteen seasons with more than 200 innings. Only eight of those seasons featured Clemens giving up more than 200 hits. In 18 years, Clemens never gave up more than a hundred earned runs in a season. In 18 seasons, Clemens only needed to intentionally walk 52 batters. Think about that one for a while.
Roger Clemens struck out more than three times as many batters as he walked in his career. And he averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings lifetime. He had fifteen seasons where his winning percentage was over .600 and five where it was over .700 (two over .800!).
Roger Clemens was one of the best pitchers of all time. He isn't quite done yet. He has to win some playoff games before he quits.
Javy Lopez, the catcher for the Braves set a new Major League record for homers by a catcher when he hit is forty-second of the year today. He broke the record set by Randy Hundley. Forty-two homers for a catcher is unbelievable. What a great season.
Here are the Fan's post-season awards for the 2003 season:
- AL Cy Young - easy. Roy Halliday. Estaban Loiza had a terrific year, but he lost four in a row down the stretch when the White Sox needed the wins for the pennant drive. Andy Pettitte had a nice year but his ERA is too high for the award.
- NL Cy Young - also easy. Eric Gagne. I don't like the award to go to relief pitchers, but the man has been totally amazing.
- AL MVP - I have to go with David Ortiz. A-Rod and Delgado were the players of the year, but Ortiz win a lot of big games for the Red Sox and I can't see them where they are without him.
- NL MVP - Javy Lopez. His game calling and bat made a so-so Braves team special.
- AL Rookie of the Year - Mark Teixeira. Teixeira started slow but had a great second half with a lot of homers and RBI.
- NL Rookie of the Year - Mark Podsednik. The Brewers leadoff man stole the award from others (Webb, Willis).
- AL Manager of the Year - Everyone will say Tony Pena. But the Royals didn't get there. The Twins did and Rod Gardenshire gets my vote.
- NL Manager of the Year - Jack McKean. The Marlins were flipping in shallow water until McKean came along and finally got that "potential" word off of the young pitchers heads.