Wow, what a crazy, improbable, unbelievable Division Series week we just witnessed. This is why baseball is pure magic. Whether or not you are a fan of the four teams left, you can’t deny that they all earned their way in. After four Game 5’s in four series, we finally got the NLCS and ALCS matchups finalized with a ridiculous game in Washington.
In the type of game that has become routine for the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, they laughed at a 6-0 deficit in the third inning and slowly chipped away to cut the lead to 7-5 by the top of the ninth inning.
Luckily for Cardinals fans, this team is at it’s best when down to their last strike of the season. With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso hit a game-tying single, then came around to score on a single by rookie shortstop Pete Kozma. The Cards held on to win 9-7 and advance to the NLCS, shocking the nation’s capitol and pastime’s fan base in the process…again.
My girlfriend is the biggest Cardinals fan in the world, and this is her reaction video to watching that top of the 9th inning. She had to record, turn off her phone, and watch later – I already knew what had happened but kept my best poker face on for the next few hours as we watched it back. She had no idea I was taping her reaction. But check out what pure, unadulterated love for a baseball team looks like:
That’s a good fan if I’ve ever seen one. Good luck to the Cardinals, Giants, Tigers and Yankees in the Championship Series, starting tonight in New York!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Did you watch the ESPY’s yesterday? Yeah, me neither. Sorry, I have better things to do than watch a bunch of athletes dress nice and split hairs determining which player, coach, moment and team is just a tad bit more popular than the rest.
And thank god I didn’t have to see Brian Wilson and his more-attractive “date.”
Anyway, here at Three Up, Three Down, we watch a lot of sports. I mean…a LOT. But for all the football, basketball, hockey and soccer games we’ve taken in over the years, our baby is baseball.
So here’s my try at re-awarding every ESPY award that had baseball involved in it:
1. Best Male Athlete
MLB contender: Justin Verlander
ESPY winner: LeBron James
I love JV, but the voters got it right on this one. The other nominees for this award were Novak Djokovic and Aaron Rodgers. All four are incredible athletes and dominated their respective sports. But there is no human specimen on this planet more physically capable and immensely talented than LeBron. I truly believe LeBron could have been a power-hitting outfielder, Serena Williams clone (both in looks and tennis court presence…sorry, had to do it) or star tight end. I can’t say that any of the other three could make it in the other sports.
Jeremy’s winner: LeBron James
2. Best Championship Performance
MLB contender: David Freese
ESPY winner: LeBron James
It’s hard to argue against the voters again. But this category is definitely much more difficult. The other nominees were Eli Manning, Tony Stewart and Jonathan Quick. Because Manning had so many teammates making clutch plays around him, I’m going to back off on giving it to him. Stewart is a NASCAR driver; ’nuff said. Quick was absolutely incredible tending net for the Los Angeles Kings, but again it’s a sport where individual dominance seems more aided by your teammates than most. James and Freese both came through in hugely pressurized situation, but James did it against worse competition (by that I mean, he is so head and shoulders above other players that he SHOULD win, whereas Freese is a huge underdog). With that said, the St. Louis boy and his huge World Series performance get my vote. Perhaps the fact that the World Series occurred over 8 months ago played a role here?
Jeremy’s winner: David Freese
3. Best Record-Breaking Performance
MLB contender: Mariano Rivera
ESPY winner: Drew Brees
Okay, I get it. Brees threw for a billion yards. Very impressive, considering he had one of the most prolific offenses in recent memory around him. *Rolls eyes* Just kidding – I love Brees. But, there is no way he should have beaten out Rivera for this award. That being said, Coach K’s wins milestone is a very tough nomination (Lexi Thompson was the fourth and final nominee) to beat. Coaching is an underrated challenge, but nothing tops coming into a game in the ninth inning to secure a win in front of 40,000 people. Rivera should have gotten more respect here, and in turn, the ESPY.
Jeremy’s winner: Mariano Rivera
4. Best Game
MLB contender: Rangers vs. Cardinals, Game 6
ESPY winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs
I’m going to catch some heat for this. I will never forget game six. It was one of the most epic moments of my entire life as a sports fan, and I was just watching with a beer in hand and dogs at feet. I ran around the house yelling and cheering, because (as Jack Buck so aptly announced) I couldn’t believe what I just saw. BUT, I’m a 49ers fan, and our fan base was hurting for some success after finally returning to the playoffs. And with all the doubt placed on Alex Smith over the years, his throw at the end of that game made him a local hero – I’m sticking with the Red and Gold here. Please direct all hate mail to email@example.com.
Jeremy’s winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs
5. Best Moment
MLB contenders: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit OR MLB season ends with dramatic final night
ESPY winner: Tebow to Thomas, sudden death TD
This is a freakin’ travesty. There’s no other way to put it. And it just makes me hate Tim Tebow. I know it’s not Tebow’s fault that football is now more popular than baseball in our country, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Derek Jeter is one of the all-time legendary athletes, not just baseball players, in American sports history. Achieving his 3,000th hit solidified his already-being-cleared-and-buffed spot in Cooperstown. Not okay, voters. Not okay. Oh, and Bubba Watson was another nominee or whatever.
Jeremy’s winner: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit
6. Best Comeback Athlete
MLB contender: Johan Santana
ESPY winner: Matthew Stafford
What? Seriously? Football rules again. The other two nominees didn’t stand a chance (Maria Sharapova and Sidney Crosby – wow, there really was a shortage of good comeback stories, huh?), but Santana got snubbed. Both players came back from injury to have big seasons, but Stafford had the difficult role of dropping back and throwing a football in the general vicinity of Calvin Johnson. Santana had his arm ripped apart, repaired and stitched up. Upon returning, he no-hit one of the best offenses in baseball. Is there really an argument here?
Jeremy’s winner: Johan Santana
7. Best MLB Player
ESPY winner: Josh Hamilton
This is the Big Kahuna. I’m sure it was difficult enough to narrow this category down to five guys, but the committee went with Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Braun and Justin Verlander. I’m hard pressed to say they were wrong, as much as my Dodger blue-bleedin’ heart wants to. Hamilton has been the best player in baseball at various points of the last few seasons. The only argument I feel could be legitimately made if we narrow it all the way down, is for Verlander. All of the other guys have great cases, but JV won the Cy Young AND MVP. It’s hard to top that. I’m okay with the selection of Hamilton though. Kid deserves all the respect in the world.
Jeremy’s winner: Josh Hamilton
8. Best Male College Athlete
NCAAB contender: Mike Zunino, Florida
ESPY winner: Robert Griffin III
It’s laughable that they even included Zunino and fellow nominee Jack Connolly (Minnesota-Duluth hockey player) in this category. Nobody watches college baseball OR hockey, so it was just to look like they cared. Well played, ESPN. The real competition was between Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Anthony Davis. Though I could have seen the unibrow or first overall NFL draft selection take it home, I’m not the least bit surprised it was Griffin III. He won the Heisman Trophy, the most prolific of college athletic awards, and led a team far less talented than Stanford football or Kentucky basketball to a huge season.
Jeremy’s winner: Robert Griffin III
9. Best Team of the Year
MLB contender: St. Louis Cardinals
ESPY winner: Miami Heat
The Cardinals were an awesome, incredible, inspiring team in 2011. Unfortunately, the voters got it right again. If this was Best Comeback or Best Cinderella Story or Most Likeable Team to Win a 2011 Championship, the Cards would likely win. But they had no chance in a category including the following nominees: Alabama football, Baylor women’s basketball, Kentucky men’s basketball, Los Angeles Kings, Miami Heat, and New York Giants. The real contenders here were Kentucky, the Heat and the Giants. But I think voters recognized that Kentucky can’t compete with the other two at the college level, and that if you take into account the consistency of dominance over the course of a season – it was always going to be the Heat. As it should have been.
Jeremy’s winner: Miami Heat
Don’t forget to comment below if you disagree! Give me your winners and what you think of the ESPY’s. Follow Three Up, Three Down @3u3d and LIKE us on Facebook.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)