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Who’s On Base?: Mind-Blowing Season
GLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND — This 2001 baseball season brought about a lot of mind-blowing events. We’ve seen two all-time greats retire and watched a player join the 500 home run club. We saw the single-season record for hits, walks, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage topped. The team record for most wins was tied, while career records for walks and runs were overrun this year as well. Now. what else happened that I’m forgetting? Oh yeah, how could I forget Ichiro Suzuki breaking the single-season mark for hits?
All of the records are remarkable, but for all of this to happen in one season makes this even more striking. But, before we get started, can we all just give another round of applause to Barry Bonds for his accomplishment? By blasting 73 home runs, Bonds became the single-season home run king, at least for another year. What made his accomplishment even more outstanding is the fact that he hit 73 home runs the same year he broke the record for walks in one season with 177.
Even with the season as exceptional as it was, it was still overshadowed by the events that changed the American way of life on September 11, 2001. In the midst of these horrific events, baseball and all other professional sports stopped play for an entire week. For most of us, we realized what was important in our lives and clearly felt that sports actually served as a type of therapy for moving forward with our lives. What we showed the world is that you may attack our land, and our way of life, but you can’t break our spirit or take away our pride. America may be the melting pot for the world, but we are Americans forever and that can never pass us by.
Now, with the playoffs here teams gearing up to make their run at the World Series rings, let’s look at the teams and their chances to make it to the top of the mountain. Starting in the NL, there are the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, and St Louis Cardinals.
The Astros right now are at the bottom of the list of teams that may have a chance to make it to the Series. Even with Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Moises Alou, the Astros have lost seven of their last ten games, and all three of these players are, collectively, sporting a whopping .155 batting average. Since the Astros will be playing the most experienced team in the playoffs, the Atlanta Braves, their chances just seem to worsen.
The Braves, on the other hand, probably have the best chance next to the Arizona Diamondbacks. With Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Burkett and John Smoltz, the Braves are a tough team to beat in a short five-game series. Add Brian Jordan, Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones and the Braves become a seriously tough, veteran team to beat.
The St Louis Cardinals enter the post-season ready to beat an Arizona team that has its sights locked on the World Series. Any team who realistically thinks they can beat Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson on different occasions in less than a week may need to rethink their strategy. The way to beat the Diamondbacks is to keep the game as close as possible and try your chances against the bullpen. But if you allow either one of these guys to finish a game, you can hang it up. These two guys may be the best one-two combination, ever, in baseball.
Albert Pujols The Cardinals do, however, have some very tough competitors. With Rookie of the Year Albert Pujols leading his team in RBI’s, home runs, runs, and batting average, the Cardinals should be able to score a run or two and stay in the games long enough to squeak out two or three wins. But it will be incredibly difficult. The Cardinals still have Big Mac, the former single-season king, to try and knock in a run or two, but his sub .200 batting average will not help out against the Diamondbacks.
The NL pennant, if I have to make a prediction, will be between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves. If Atlanta can find a way to break the rotation with Johnson and Schilling, they may have a chance to make it to another World Series. And since they are in their 10th consecutive year in making the playoffs, why would you bet against them?
Just as a side note, Sammy Sosa became the first player ever to hit 60+ home runs three times in a career and has the highest four-year average of any player during any four-year span in the history of the game. Hey, Sammy, we still love ya and we love what you have done for your people in the Dominican. We just want to let you know, Sammy, that we haven’t forgotten about you at all! We’ll be looking for you to challenge that 73 home run mark in 2002.
Edited by Pam Gare