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Reasons to be Thankful

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There is one thing I hate about my new job, and it's not really my new job, as such. It is the karmic way that the worst, longest, most troublesome support calls inevitably land on your phone, five minutes before you're scheduled to leave. I have had two monster calls now: one lasted eighty minutes, the other a staggering ninety-eight. Both of them started within the final ten minutes of my shift, leaving Mrs. SnakePit to wait in the parking lot for, last night, an hour and a half. Aargh. I think it's being so close to leaving, and then having it snatched away, that hurts; I am convinced the phone system is possessed of malignant intelligence, and directs the calls accordingly.

Mind you, I was mightily cheered to come home and see that Derek Jeter had been stiffed in the AL MVP award. I think that was perhaps more of an unexpected delight, even than Brandon Webb winning the Cy Young. I mean, this year, you could actually argue a decent case for Jeter the Cheater; that, combined with the inevitable East Coast Bias, which has already handed him large numbers of undeserved awards (hello, Gold Glove voters) meant he seemed like an absolute shoe-in for the prize. But Yankee-hating runs deep: there's a reason only three Yankees have won the MVP since 1963, despite fifteen division titles during that period. Hell, if the 1998 Yankees, who went 114-48, couldn't win an MVP or Cy Young, what hope for Jeter? And particular applause to Joe Cowley, beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, who placed Jeter only sixth. That's the spirit!

To me, the really surprising thing was not that Jeter lost to a Twin, but the Twin to which he lost: in my mind, Joe Mauer was the Metrodome inhabitant I'd have said was most worthy of the award. But he only finished sixth overall, with nobody placing him higher than third; winner Justin Morneau, on the other hand, was placed first or second by 23 of the 28 voters. That's a remarkable decision: just as a reminder, in the SB Nation poll, Mauer won, with 175 points, compared to Morneau's 81. Though I didn't have a vote in that one, I concur with the general sentiment: for a catcher, Mauer's season was almost unprecedented, and deserved credit much more than a position which can be played adequately by a garbage-can with a glove attached to it.

The paranoid conspiracist in me is whispering something about collusion at this point. Specifically, the anti-Yankee AL writers - which could be 26 of the 28, in my opinion - getting together to ensure that the Twins vote didn't get split between Mauer and Morneau (and possibly Santana). Quite why they decided go with Justin rather than Joe, however, eludes me. But I do think that Morneau may be the least deserving AL MVP in quite some time. Interestingly, I note that Newsday listed the ballots of all the voters, so you can see who exactly went with what. Now, if only I could find something similar for the NL voters...

  1. From the "Ouch! That'll leave a mark!" department.
  2. Reaves writes on AZ's Cy Young run
  3. The Bullpen residents brutally deconstruct it

Just realised today is the sixth anniversary of my arrival on US soil as a permananent resident, becoming one of the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Tired? Check. A 12-hour flight from London does that. Poor? Well, while almost all I had was the clothes I stood in, that was because my other possessions were in 49 boxes, making their way slowly across the Atlantic by boat. Indeed, six years later, some of those boxes are still not unpacked... I'm not sure if one British guy quite counts as a huddled mass, but I was definitely yearning to breath free: see "tired", and add the recycled air in coach class.

A lot of things have changed since that date, not least for the Diamondbacks. Then, Bob Brenly had been manager for barely three weeks, replacing Buck Showalter, and we were about to add another piece of the World Series puzzle, by signing free-agent Mark Grace to play first-base. Miguel Batista had just started the first of his two stints in Arizona. And some guy called Brandon Webb, an 8th-round draft pick that June, completed his first season in the minors, but had yet to discover how to throw a sinker. This 21-year old kid threw 16.2 innings at South Bend, striking out 18, and with an ERA of 3.24. Now, he's the reigning Cy Young winner, and I'm married. But we're both pretty happy, I imagine. ;-)

And that seems like an appropriate note on which to take a Thanksgiving break. Mrs. SnakePit wants to wake up early tomorrow and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade; me, I tend to think that once you've seen one Snoopy-shaped helium balloon, you've seen them all. I guess this proves that I haven't quite become truly American yet! But among the D-backs' related things I will be giving thanks for - outside the usual stuff like health, family, friends - will be:

  • Living in a city with major-league baseball
  • Brandon Webb
  • Our prospects
  • A GM who appears to have a plan
  • Chase Field's retractable roof
  • Dollar Hot-dog Night
  • And last, but not least, a genuine sense of anticipation for the 2007 baseball season. I'll get the countdown clock to Opening Day up there over the Thanksgiving break...