Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Quick Hits

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Justice was served today as Justin Verlander was awarded the AL MVP award. Despite Verlander's sensational season (24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 strikeouts to go along with a no-hitter), there was some speculation as to whether or not the voters would gave him honest consideration seeing as the award is typically given to a position player. But Verlander received 13 first place votes and outpointed Jacoby Ellsbury 280-242 to win the award becoming the first pitcher to be named the AL MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starting pitcher to win it since Roger Clemens in 1986. Additionally, Verlander winning means I'm now 7 for 7 in picking baseball's end of the year awards and just a Ryan Braun NL MVP award away from going a perfect 8 for 8. Here's a good piece of trivia for you if you're into that sort of thing. With today's MVP award, Justin Verlander becomes just the second player in baseball history to win the Rookie of the Year award, Cy Young award, and the MVP award. Can you name the other? Scroll down to the bottom of the blog for the answer.

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Sidney Crosby stepped back onto the ice for the Penguins tonight for the first time since January 5th and quickly silenced any doubters who thought he might have trouble getting back up to speed. Crosby needed just 5 minutes and 24 seconds to score his first goal of the season and finished with another goal and two assists as the Penguins routed the New York Islanders 5-0. Not a bad night for The Kid. The win moves the Penguins into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of the Flyers.

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The Rangers didn't waste long reloading for 2012 as they went out and signed Joe Nathan, the former Twins closer, to a 2 year deal worth $14.5M. Nathan, who missed all of 2010 following Tommy John surgery, has 261 career saves including 36 or more in every season between 2004 and 2009. The move also means that incumbent closer Neftali Feliz will be making a move to the starting rotation next season. The hard throwing right hander has never started a game in the majors since being called up in 2009, but did start 54 games in the minors including 27 starts in 2008. The Rangers have had a lot of success converting relievers to starters over the past few years moving C.J. Wilson into the rotation in 2010 (15-8, 3.35 ERA in 33 starts) and the Alexi Ogando this past year (13-8, 3.51 ERA, 29 starts). Feliz may have the best stuff out of those three so if he can make the transition into the rotation as well, look for the Rangers to be right back in contention next season.

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I've talked a lot about how crazy it is that Tim Tebow keeps winning games, but last night I was reminded of another guy who just seldom seems to lose. Playing in place of the injured Michael Vick, Vince Young rallied the Eagles to a 17-10 victory over the first place Giants as the former Titan improved to 31-17 in his career as a starter. In fact, Young has never had a season where he posted a record below .500 as the starting quarterback. Considering that he's thrown more interceptions (46) in his career than touchdowns (44), it's pretty impressive that he's been as successful as he has. It wasn't pretty last night either as Young tossed 3 more picks, but despite playing without Jeremy Maclin and having a 60 yard pass play taken off the books thanks to a taunting penalty on DeSean Jackson, Young still finished with 258 yards and touchdown passes to Steve Smith and Riley Cooper while engineering the game winning drive in the 4th quarter. Considering the Eagles' inability to close out games this year, going into the Meadowlands and pulling out a victory is huge. But hey, that's what guys like Young and Tebow seem to do, right? Somehow they find a way. The Eagles will be at home this weekend when they face the Patriots on Sunday.

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Devastating news out of Chicago last night as following the Bears big win over San Diego it was announced that Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb during the game that will require surgery and cause him to potentially miss the rest of the regular season. So now the 7-3 Bears, who had just started to hit their stride with Cutler, turn the reigns over to Caleb Hanie. Hanie has never started an NFL game during the regular season however you may recall his breakout performance in last year's NFC Championship Game against the Packers when he led a pair of second half scoring drives after coming on for the injured Jay Cutler and the awful Todd Collins. The Bears schedule isn't terrible the next few weeks as they go at Oakland, play at home against Kansas City, then on the road to take on Tebow and the Broncos, and then back home against Seattle. Even without Cutler those are winnable games. With the Bears ability to run the football with Matt Forte and their defense playing as good as ever, Hanie shouldn't have to do too much. So while this injury is going to have an impact, there's no reason to think that the Bears season is over. One other thing, I think it's kind of funny that nobody's talking about Cutler's toughness right now. I mean he finished the game and went through all the postgame stuff as if nothing was wrong and now it's coming out that he has an injury that could keep him out the rest of the season. Just thought it was interesting after how quick everyone was to criticize him during last year's playoffs.

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Don Newcombe won the Rookie of the Year award in 1949, and the Cy Young and MVP in 1956.

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