The Week That Was in Baseball: November 23-29, 2009
The MVP Postmortem (Beyond the Obvious) The Reign of Bud Reaches Twilight
Notes on the TGG All-Decade Nominations
Early Thoughts on the 2010 HOF Vote

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For Those Keeping Track
St. Louis Cardinal slugger Albert Pujols, winner of the NL MVP, became the tenth ballplayer to win the award three times—and the tenth player to win it back-to-back. The last player to earn a MVP in consecutive years was Barry Bonds, in 2003-04. Coincidentally, one more MVP for Pujols will put him alone in second place with four career awards, behind only Bonds—far and away the leader with seven.

Cold Comfort
St. Louis pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, beat out by San Francisco's Tim Lincecum for the NL Cy Young Award, each captured more votes than Lincecum in the NL MVP tally.

For the Résumé
San Francisco reliever Jeremy Affeldt picked up a tenth-place vote in the NL MVP count.

Get Your Hypocrisies Straight
Just wondering: Did any of the same voters who refused to pick
Carpenter for the NL Cy Young Award—because he missed a month of the season—opt for Joe Mauer in the AL MVP race, even though he missed the first month of action this year?

It All Makes Sense Now
For those not too heavily in baseball’s know, perhaps the most surprising result of the AL MVP vote was that Tampa Bay second baseman
Ben Zobrist finished eighth. Now perhaps it’s understood why Akinora Iwamura was dealt to Pittsburgh.

Lord Jim For a Day
It was a very good day for Colorado manager
Jim Tracy this past Tuesday. Not only did the 53-year old skipper win the NL Manager of the Year Award, he was rewarded by the Rockies with a new three-year contract worth at least a million bucks annually. Tracy led the Rockies completely out of nowhere when he replaced Clint Hurdle in May and took the team to playoffs as a wild card. It also brought his career record back over the .500 mark—not bad for a manager whose resume includes a two-year sentence piloting the woebegone Pittsburgh Pirates, from 2006-07.

We Ought to Tell You: Our All-Decade Nominations
With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s) in sight, This Great Game this week revealed its nominees for the best and worst of the decade that was. Categories include best and worst team, hitter and pitcher; the most memorable moments, on and off the field; the best one-year wonder, and more. A PDF ballot is available for download and can be sent back to TGG by December 21 for us to tally; the winners will be announced in the December 28 edition of the Weekly Comebacker.

Fun Facts About the All-Decade Nominations
Barry Bonds picked up the most nominations with four; Andruw Jones was second with three, although he’s not to be proud with the dubious nature of two of those nominations.

Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge is nominated in the category of best performance in a season by a pitcher—and the worst.

Some discussion is sure to be generated by the fact that two of the five teams nominated for Best Season didn’t win the World Series—in fact, one of them, the 116-win Seattle Mariners of 2001, didn’t even get there. Intangibles and expectations were considered in the evaluation process.

The biggest crowd of potential nominees came in the category of Most Memorable Moment, from which we could pick only five. Among those ousted out of the top five were the infamous All-Star Game tie of 2002, Bonds’ 73rd home run in 2001, and umpire Doug Eddings’ bizarre “strike three mechanic” call on A.J. Pierzynski’s passed-ball move to first base in the 2005 ALCS.

Joined at the Glove Lace
Shortstop Omar Vizquel and outfielder Andruw Jones, both nominated for the Oughties above in the category of Best Defender, both signed one-year contracts this past week for the Chicago White Sox after fulfilling similar obligations in 2009 for the Texas Rangers. The regressed abilities of both players over time is reflected in the fact that the White Sox will only pay them a combined $1.875 million in 2010 (with incentives kicking the fees up if met).

Sure, Yep, (Yawn)
The Toronto Blue Jays emerged as the busy bees of the free agent scene this past week, prying shortstop Alex Gonzalez away from the Boston Red Sox and resigning back-up middle infielder John McDonald. Meanwhile, the Red Sox and the New York Yankees slept soundly through the night, awaking to begin the task of acquiring Toronto ace Roy Halladay, who almost certain to be traded this winter. (It was also rumored at week’s end that the Red Sox, trying to quickly fill the void left at short by Gonzalez, are talking to the Florida Marlins about acquiring Hanley Ramirez.)

Time to Say 'So Long', Bud?
The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Commissioner Bud Selig will step down in 2012 after overseeing the next round of CBA talks with the players’ union. Selig, who will be 78 when his current term expires, wants to move on to other things such as books, teaching and, who knows, maybe even a return to used car sales while he still has the time. If Selig does move on as planned, it will be after a 20-year reign (including his time as “interim commissioner” from 1992-98), the longest by any commish since the very first, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, from 1920-44.

Sizing up the 2010 Hall of Fame Eligibles
This year’s complete listing of Hall of Fame candidates was announced this past week, with a final vote tally to be announced in January. None of the new candidates appear to be a lock for first-year induction, but it is assumed that, sooner or later, you’ll see Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin get in. Other newbies who’ll secure votes—just not 75% of them—are Fred McGriff, Andres Galarraga and Edgar Martinez. And for those looking to make the vote a farce, be ready to mark an X next to first-year Hall of Fame candidates Dave Burba, Mark McLemore and Fernando Vina.

The rat race will continue for return eligibles such as Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven and, yes, Mark McGwire. And for those looking to the future, things get interesting next year when confirmed steroid users Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez join the parade.

End of a Long, Long Era
The New York Yankees officially announced this week that long-time Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard is retiring. This was hardly earthshaking news, given that Sheppard, who turns 100 next year, hasn’t been behind the mike since 2007. “Time has passed me by,” said Sheppard, “I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don’t think, at my age, I’m going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well.” Sheppard’s first game for the Yankees was back in 1951, which was Joe DiMaggio’s last year in pinstripes; he also did P.A. work for the New York football Giants for 50 years, most recently in 2005.

This Week's Episode of Divorce McCourt
Sometimes it’s so easy to see through the desperate spin of a divorce lawyer. An attorney for Jamie McCourt, at legal war with estranged husband Frank McCourt over control of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said there should be concerns over Mr. Dodger’s ability to honor a $100 million payroll when his personal checking account recently dipped as low as $167,000. Even that lawyer’s fifth grader should probably figure out that the players get paid from the Dodgers’ money pot, not McCourt’s.

A Beautiful Artifact, So Spoke the Lawyer
The New England Sports Museum is hoping it can show off the World Series trophy given to the 1912 Red Sox, who defeated the New York Giants in an exciting and controversial seven-game series during the team’s inaugural year at Fenway Park. (Actually, the Series went eight games; one of them finished in an unresolved tie.) The Museum has received the okay from the owner of the silver cup, but the problem is that a second person claims to be a co-owner and as such is suing in the hopes that he could profit from any potential sale of the award. It was bought in 2007 for $55,000, and was recently appraised at $250,000.

Farmer Russ Goes to Washington
Most major leaguers spend their offseason these days kicking back, vacationing, staying in shape and/or continuing to play winter ball in the Caribbean. You wouldn’t think any ballplayer would take on a government internship in Washington, but that’s what Pittsburgh pitcher Russ Ohlendorf is doing, working 20 non-paid hours a week at the Agriculture Department. The 27-year old right-hander, whose 11-10 record and 3.92 ERA was one of the few bright spots on a Pirate team that lost 99 games, is working in D.C. to have a better understanding of “how government works” so he can apply that knowledge to his father’s cattle business outside of his hometown of Austin, Texas.

Now Playing at TGG
Uploaded this week is Ed Attnasio’s They Were There chat featuring with former major league reliever Bob Locker, who reveals his experiences with the one-year Seattle Pilots and the great Oakland A’s teams of the early 1970s.

Also Now Playing at TGG
TGG's year-end review of the regular season is now live, breaking down the best, worst, most surprising and most disappointing performances from each major league team.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.

We Ought to Tell You: Our All-Decade Nominations

With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s) in sight, This Great Game has revealed its nominees for the best and worst of the decade that was. Categories include best and worst team, hitter and pitcher; the most memorable moments, on and off the field; the best one-year wonder, and more. Take a good look at the nominees and then get your chance to vote on the winners! TGG will tally the final vote and announce the winners at the end of the year.