Bleacher Bits: Tipping my cap to Cabrera's season
The Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera pulled off one of the rarest feats in Major League Baseball history this week, when he became just the 16th player in the history of the game to win baseball's Triple Crown.
To those who think of names like "Secretariat" or "Affirmed" when discussing the Triple Crown, that's a horse race of a different color.
We're talking baseball, and Cabrera is the first man to lead his league in home runs (44), RBI (139) and batting average (.330) since 1967.
But Cabrera's lofty accomplishment is not being placed on the perch where it belongs. His season was absolutely unbelievable.
I've followed the game for 43 years, and I've seen or at least been around for some of its "rarities." There have been just 15 unassisted triple plays turned in the majors, so this must be rarer than the Triple Crown, right?
Numerically speaking, yes, but that feat has been turned four times in the last 20 years.
How about pitching a perfect game? After all, by its mere definition we're implying that there is no way to top it. Well, 23 pitchers have retired all 27 batters without allowing one to reach base, and it's been done 15 times since 1968.
C'mon, how many times has a batter circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run when the bases were loaded? Tons, when compared to Triple Crown winners, and it's happened 22 times since 1967.
Well, it can't happen often that a pitcher — with the help of a wild pitch or passed ball — strikes out four batters in the same inning. Yes it can, it's occurred 57 times.
What Cabrera has accomplished is epic, no matter how you look at it. The fact that he did it while his team was in the thick of a pennant race makes it loom that much larger. Dude was an absolute offensive juggernaut.
It takes a certain kind of swing and bat speed to hit home runs; it takes a certain type of batting eye to wait for the pitches you can square up and drive consistently for a high average; and it takes a level of mental toughness to continually come through with runners on base to drive them in.
I know a monumental baseball accomplishment when I see it, and I recognize great writing when I read it. As Eric Adelson wrote so eloquently on Yahoo! Sports, "(Cabrera) completed a work of baseball art on Wednesday by picking up a special brand of paintbrush that millions have used, but almost never quite as beautifully."
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.