Justin Verlander named Sporting News’ 2011 MLB player of the year

October 28, 2011 – Justin Verlander has been named Sporting News' 2011 player of the year. In voting done by 289 major league players (177 players from the AL and 112 from the NL), Verlander was the first pitcher to win the award since the Los Angeles Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in 1988. The award is presented by Gillette Odor Shield.

Verlander stood out in 2011 among even his most dominant peers with a 24-5 record, 250 strikeouts and 2.40 ERA.

"He's had one of the best seasons for a pitcher. Ever," New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia said.

"He's pretty incredible," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said after Verlander struck out 11 New York batters in the ALDS. "He's throwing 100 mph in the eighth inning. That's impressive. I don't know if there's anyone else in baseball, especially a starter, that can do that."

Verlander's maturation process in the majors wasn't immediate. After a stellar 2006 season (17-9, 3.63 ERA) that earned him the rookie of the year honors, Verlander had a strong 2007 (18-6, 3.66) but a rocky 2008 (11-17, 4.84) before he really started to dominate hitters in the fashion he did this year.

"One of my favorite lines is you can't make a senior out of a freshman," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It takes time. ... You have to go through different experiences before you really get to (your) peak. I think Justin has taken it step by step. He had the big year in 2006. Then he went through a little bit of a humbling period. He's made adjustments mentally, he's made some adjustments physically. He's figured some things out. ... He's matured a lot."

About Sporting News' awards: Voting for Sporting News' 2011 baseball awards was done by major league players, managers and front office executives. Ballots were distributed to all 30 teams, and 289 players, 55 executives and 23 managers participated in the voting. Players voted for player of the year, comeback players of the year and rookies of the year; managers voted for managers of the year; and executives voted for the All-Star teams.

Crown the champion already

One game from crowing a Major League Baseball champion and I’m already looking forward to next season, partly because it means my deployment will be over and partly because I feel good about the 2012 Detroit Tigers being back in the thick of things.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm sure a few of them come to mind when you look at this photo of Mike Illitch. Me? I'm speechless.

Admit it, you'd give anything to have a model of Tiger Stadium like this

Dallas-area hobbyist is a model Texas Rangers fan

Reginald Rutledge built a model of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in his backyard. He got his start on the hobby as a kid building a model of the Dallas Cowboys' old Texas Stadium. His current projects are the stadiums of the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots.

People show their enthusiasm for these Texas Rangers in different ways.

Reginald Rutledge did it by building an amazing, eye-popping replica of Rangers Ballpark inside his Arlington garage.

Now if only we could get a roof over the real thing.

Reginald, 50, describes himself as a “laid-off engineer.” But in his sideline as a sports nut, he works overtime.

And this has been going on a long time. Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., he got hooked on electric football, the old-school game where little players vibrate around on a buzzing field.

Reginald is still playing electric football — or miniature football, as it’s now called.

In fact, he’s the founder and commissioner of a new league, the College Bowl Series of Miniature Football. He recently presided over the league championship in Las Vegas.

And he operates an Internet-based business devoted to miniature football, footballfigure.net.

As part of that business, Reginald builds replica stadiums to go around the electric football fields. And that goes back to his youth, too.

As a kid, he was watching a Dallas Cowboys game on TV one Sunday. “Texas Stadium was still pretty new then, and I really liked the domed look of it. I started building a cardboard stadium of my own,” he said.

“It was real rough, but that was the genesis of everything.”

He has since sold model stadiums to customers all over the world. In his garage workshop, he’s now completing models of the New England Patriots’ and San Francisco 49ers’ stadiums.

But his masterpiece stands on the other side of the garage — the 6-by-7-foot Rangers Ballpark.

“I always wanted to have a piece of Ranger history, even if I had to create it,” he said.

He was suffering heart problems last year during the Rangers’ championship run. Since he couldn’t go to games, he channeled his enthusiasm into building the model stadium.

Banks of tiny LED stadium lights illuminate the field. He can route radio play-by-play of games through stadium speakers. And he plans to add a real video screen to the right-field scoreboard.

The model is highly detailed — right down to manager Ron Washington standing at the dugout. But it’s not meant to be architecturally exact.

“I don’t spend time scaling it or anything. I just start to build,” he said.

Reginald really got excited when I asked: Can you put a roof on it?

“Absolutely,” he said. “Rose and I are always talking about doing that.”

He and his wife, Rosemary, were regulars at games this year. And that meant a lot of suffering.

“It was so frustrating being out in all that heat,” he said. “It was miserable, just miserable.”

Amen to that. I was at two games this season with starting temperatures of 105 degrees.

As an engineer (aerospace and electrical), Reginald has spent a lot of time pondering his model, thinking about ways of adding a retractable roof to the real park. His judgment is painful to hear.

“There’s a way to do it,” he said, “but it’s probably cheaper to just start all over on the stadium.”

Demolishing the ballpark seems unimaginable. I still think of it as our “new” stadium, although it opened in 1994.

The Rangers have investigated the possibility of retrofitting the ballpark with a roof or even some sort of light shade structure, but the costs have been too high.

And Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said Wednesday that he’s heard no mention of building a new stadium.

“It does get hot at times,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that.”

Reginald predicts more and more discussion of building an air-conditioned, retractable-roof park. And he’s all for it, even if it means building a new model.

“I want a roof,” he said. “It’s hot out there.”

Rough weekend, great year

(Photo By Detroit News)

I could have avoided the television and internet over the weekend and went on in complete bliss.  Saturday night was a big night for this fan, landlocked in Afghanistan and completely at the mercy of the American Forces Network for live/taped sports and ESPN.com and twitter for the latest scores and stats.  Not a good statistical day for the biggest game on the slate, Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

But let’s focus on the positive. 

So now we're all in clinical depression. Where from here

A few observations.

1. I don't need to pay for additional television access to baseball games. I can't keep up with what's on during the playoffs already. If baseball were food, I'd weigh 500 lbs. Since I'm usually eating when watching games on TV, I'm quickly approaching that number anyway.
2. My wife thinks I'm an alcoholic, since I drink during Tiger playoff games. I drink because they lose, I drink because they win. I drink because I'm worried about what will happen next year. I drink cause I still think the Tigers never should have traded Granderson, but all my friends disagree. You have become "all my friends." Gee, maybe I am an alcoholic.
3. And now for the important stuff: what are we gonna do about next year. Somebody get me a Stroh's.

ESPN: Delmon Young activated, will play in Game 2 today

From ESPN website

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Detroit Tigers added Delmon Young to their American League Championship Series roster to replace Magglio Ordonez, who is out for the season with an ankle injury, the team announced Monday.

Manager Jim Leyland said Monday afternoon that Young will start in left field and bat third for the Tigers in Monday's Game 2 (4:19 p.m. ET first pitch).

"He was tested by the doctors and did all kinds of other workouts and exercised yesterday. I just spoke with him," Leyland said. "We were going to wait. It was going to be like an NFL kind of game-time decision. But we've already made the decison. He's fine, swinging good. And he will play.''

Young had been removed from the Tigers' ALCS roster for the series against the Texas Rangers because of an oblique injury, but the Tigers' lack of alternatives in the minor leagues prompted the team to bring him back in hopes that he might be able to contribute.

"He's feeling pretty good," Leyland said. The Tigers skipper said Young "did all kinds of workouts ... We've already made the decision ... he will play."

Leyland had prepared two lineups for Game 2 with Young in one but not the other and was waiting to see Young hit and throw before making his decision.

With Brennan Boesch already out for the season with a thumb injury, Detroit was down to Austin Jackson in center field, Ryan Raburn in left field, and left-handed hitters Don Kelly and Andy Dirks in right.

Clete Thomas had been mentioned as a possibility to replace Ordonez, but he's a left-handed hitter and batted .251 with a .715 OPS in Triple A.

Maggs Out!! Who Gets Called Up?

Ok boyz, Maggs is now out for the year because of an ankle injury. He probably broke it again is my guess. Ok, who gets called up now? My guess is Will Rhymes, but after last nights twitter incident who knows. Will Leyland hold a grudge? I think the sleeper is Clete Thomas who is the only other outfielder on the 40 man roster.

What do you think and how does this affect the Tiger's chances? Stay tuned.

Breathe Deeply, it's just the first game...

Relax, last night wasn't really all that bad. Just one of those nights.

Verlander will get another shot, and everything will be OK. I hope.

Meanwhile, pay attention to the commercials tonight. There are some pretty good ones you've been missing while you're running for beer. Then vote on your favorite at right. (I tried to include a direct link, but I just couldn't do it.)