MLB 2004 Season
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The 2004 Major League Baseball season has been
called a lot of different things, but one of the
things it hasn’t
been called is normal. Other than the Yankee’s being in
first place in the American League East and the Braves
being in contention for their 13th straight National
League East crown the league is standing on its head.
There are five teams that have gone from hanging
around in the cellar of their respective division and have climbed
into the light of contention. The two leading Cy Young award
candidates are 37 and 41. A 40 year old pitched a perfect game.
A-Rod was a few million dollars from being traded to the Red
Sox and was then dealt to the Evil Empire baseball likes to call
the New York Yankees. An oft-injured former superstar picked
himself out of the pile of castaways and hit his 500th home run
and a pitcher ended his streak of 84 straight save opportunities
converted. It has been a crazy, different, mad, fanatical, unusual,
abnormally atypical season and it’s
only the All-Star break.
There are a handful of teams that are in playoff
contention that would’ve
been normally laughed at for talking about the playoffs at any time during the
season especially around the time of the All-Star game. The biggest turnaround
of the season comes down to four teams the Tigers, Rays, Rangers and Padres.
The Rangers and Padres were both in last place in AL and NL West division and
are now both in a dogfight for first. The Rangers lost the best player in baseball
and now are one of the best teams in the league. The Tigers and Rays are
both thriving this year when they’ve been the poster children for futility
in the major leagues. The Rays are making a serious run at the post season
and looked primed to push the Red Sox out of the AL East race. Despite all this
the biggest surprise in all of baseball has to be the Seattle Mariners. With
basically the same team, they’ve gone from finishing two wins away from
the playoffs last year to trailing the Rangers and A’s by 14 games before
the All-Star break.
The MLB must have discovered the fountain of youth
because there are pitchers who are “over the hill” and
are the best in the game right now. Roger Clemens
and Kenny Rogers are getting serious Cy Young award
run and they have a combined age of 80. Clemens wanted to retire
at the end of last year and now he’s dominating National
League hitting. When Clemens, at the age of 41,
changed leagues for the first time in his career no one told
him he is not supposed to go in and make that league look dumb.
There is usually a learning curve or a showcase of the pitchers
deteriorating skills are put out for the world to see. Kenny
Rogers has just been winning. He had one less win then he did
all year at the beginning of July for the Rangers who are contending
once again. 40 year old Randy Johnson pitched a perfect game
this season in Atlanta against the Braves. Johnson is trying
to do his best impression of a fine wine that gets better with
age. Johnson who’d only thrown one no-hitter during his
Cooperstown bound career pulled a perfect game out of the tail
of it. Johnson was untouchable striking out 13 on only 117
Some superstars fall off of the face of the earth
never to be heard from again. This isn’t the storyline
that Ken Griffey Jr. is going to follow. Since
moving to Cincinnati he had only a single productive season
and that was the sole season that he didn’t spend substantial
time on the DL. This year Griffey is contributing to the team.
He started off the season with 481 home runs and was looking
to reach the 500 home run milestone this year. He got it done
on Fathers Day with his Dad and his kids in the stands against
the Cardinals in St. Louis. Griffey took a Matt Morris pitch
into the right field seats to become the only the 20th player
in major league history to reach the milestone.
was the man who started the trend in which a starter would
be converted to a closer. John Smoltz has also followed suit
and is thriving as a closer in Atlanta. To say that Gagne has
good stuff would be an injustice. When describing his stuff
words like sick, nasty, knee-buckling and cartoonish should
come to mind. Gagne had run off a record 84 straight save opportunities.
The streak has caused some debate among baseball purists who
feel the “cheap save” should
not count as a save starting next season. During the streak Gagne picked up 32 “cheap
saves.” This isn’t meant to discredit Gagne in any way, because he
is hands down the premiere closer in all of baseball no matter how cheap, expensive,
or moderately priced the save might be.
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