Celebrating MLB’s year of records

By Kevin Olsen

Major League Baseball may have played a cruel trick this year in turning the White Sox into bottom-feeders and the Cubs into division champs, but it provided the fans so much more than that. This was truly a historic season in baseball, and I would like to thank the sport for providing us with a memorable season, even amid the continuous steroids investigations.

You may not have liked to see records broken and milestones reached by some of the players, but you have to respect the greatness, no matter what controversies may surround certain players.

We saw three players join the 500 home run club, including former White Sox legend Frank Thomas and current Sox designated hitter Jim Thome – not to mention 32-year-old Alex Rodriguez. Sammy Sosa hit his 600th career home run while Barry Bonds’ infamous season saw him break the most hallowed record in all of sports when he hit No. 756 to pass Hank Aaron.

But home runs were not everything. Craig Biggio joined the 3,000-hit club while Tom Glavine won his 300th career game; Roger Clemens reached 350 victories and Trevor Hoffman became the first closer to reach 500 career saves.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson had three of the greatest statistical seasons ever. Rollins and Granderson became only the third and fourth players to hit 20 doubles, triples and homers and steal 20 bases in the same season. As for Rodriguez, he made voting on the AL MVP an unnecessary step to winning the award.

But all of those accomplishments were only background in an exciting season. Mark Buehrle and Justin Verlander threw no-hitters in dominating performances. Jake Peavy, Josh Beckett and C.C. Sabathia all finally pitched to match ridiculous expectations and two of them will probably be taking home Cy Young awards. Rookies Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki emerged on the scene looking like veterans and playing like MVPs. Not to mention the heartwarming comebacks of recovering drug addict Josh Hamilton and Rick Ankiel’s power surge after returning to the major leagues as an outfielder.

But all of that is on an individual level. None of that compared to the finish of the season in the National League. With three days left in the entire season, not a single team had clinched a playoff spot and there was a potentially absurd five-way tie in the making, consisting of the NL East crown, the NL West crown and the wild card. The Diamondbacks and Cubs clinched on Friday, lessening some of the excitement of the weekend, but talk about comebacks and collapses for the ages when Sunday and Monday rolled around.

The New York Mets finished off a collapse for the ages Sunday by winning just five of their last 17 games to catapult the championship-envying city of Philadelphia and the Phillies to the postseason for the first time since 1993.

But that mind-blowing collapse was only an opener for the drama. The playoffs hadn’t even officially begun yet, but Monday’s Padres and Rockies tiebreaker game was the single best game of the season.

In case you missed it, the Rockies and Padres remained tied until the 13th inning when the Padres’ Scott Hairston hit a two-run homer to make it 8-6 with all-world closer Trevor Hoffman coming in. The Rockies calmly responded with three in the bottom half of the inning, including a game-winning and controversial sacrifice fly. Instant replays were inconclusive as to whether or not Matt Holliday touched home plate, but either way, he sent Colorado to the playoffs for the first time since 1995 – a first for Todd Helton in his impressive 11-year career with the Rockies.

And to think, October is just beginning. The Rockies ended the season with a ridiculous record of 14-1 to squeak by San Diego. For the majority of the season, the Rockies, Phillies and Cubs were not in a playoff spot, but all three ended up in October together. The Yankees had a preposterous comeback that sadly forces us to never doubt them no matter how bad they play, how old they look or how poorly they pitch.

I can only hope the playoffs match the intensity and excitement of the regular season.

Kevin Olsen is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]