In baseball, the bats are made of wood, the gloves are made of leather, the balls are made of horsehide, the players are made of flesh-and-blood, and the story lines are made of irony. Because baseball is a great real-life, real-time drama, the favorite tool of literature often and irrepressibly manifests itself in uncountable forms.
So congratulations to the 2011 American League Champion Texas Rangers and their iconic superstar, Michael Young. It wasn’t so long ago, in fact it was Spring Training this year, when the Rangers signed free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and traded for Mike Napoli and left their perennial All-Star and career leader in just about every offensive category as a man without a position. Here is what I wrote in my column here on February 13:
“The other iconic star is Michael Young of the Texas Rangers, who finally started receiving some notice from the national media this season as the Rangers went on their magic carpet ride to the first World Series in their history. This is a different story, and here I feel it will not end well for the Rangers or their newly-discovered, developing fan base.
The Rangers desperately wanted to retain the services of Cliff Lee, who helped guide them to their first-ever American League pennant; when that failed, they turned their attention to acquiring Adrian Beltre, who had a fabulous year with the Boston Red Sox and opted out of his contract. Now Michael Young is among the Rangers’ career leaders in almost every category, a perennial all-star, a batting champion, a Gold Glove. He moved from second base to shortstop to third base. He has done everything the Rangers have asked him to do. When the Rangers signed Beltre, and later traded with Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Napoli, it left Young without a clear role. Designated Hitter? Super-utility man? Expensive roles for a guy with three years and $48 million on his contract!
Young has finally gone public with his discontent. He has put the Rangers on the spot. If they don’t trade him now, he vests as a 10-and-5 man in May and can veto any trade. If you thought the Yankees were disrespectful of their captain during the Jeter negotiations, the Rangers have surely dissed the face of the franchise. It will not turn out well for them.”
Young was simply brilliant in 2011, posting 213 hits, 106 RBI, a .338 batting average and sparkling .854 On-base Plus Slugging average to go with his seventh All-Star Game selection while playing all over the infield and serving as Designated Hitter. A magnificent response! I am pleased that I was so wrong and happy that I stood up for one of the great players of the game. His wonderful third inning last night, with two two-run doubles, one down the left field line, one down the right, slew the valiant Detroit Tigers and sparked the Rangers to their second consecutive World Series.
Oh and Cliff Lee, who spurned the Rangers for Philadelphia? He’s probably duck-hunting in Arkansas this week.