Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. It's hard to put into words what that means.
A baseball season gives an excellent example of the relativity of time. A season is 162 games. Some seem to fly by. Others seem to drag. Weeks fall off the calendar and you're not even sure what happened during them. Then you get a game that feels like it will never end, with moment after excruciating moment. Teams separate themselves from the pack, fall back, separate themselves again. You start to picture it like a stop-motion montage.
Yet you have to wait for the final weeks, the final games, the final innings, before it all comes together. The American League playoff picture was a complete mess, for example, then suddenly tied itself a bow at the end. And that wasn't nothin' next to the final day of the 2011 regular season.
Then there's Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown season.
A Triple Crown is so rare that it has only been done by 15 ballplayers in the entire history of the game. Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx. ... When talk of Cabrera possibly winning a Triple Crown began to pop up a few months ago, it was easy to dismiss. Triple Crown? Yeah, right. That'll never happen. It hasn't happened before in my lifetime. It happened more than a decade before I was born. Few players have even come close.
You win a Triple Crown all at once, but you earn it throughout the year. Cabrera started hot, then got hotter. September and the few games of October marked Cabrera's most successful month as a Tiger in 2012. This month, the possible of a Triple Crown became real, as Cabrera launched home run after home run and drove in key run after key run. He had 11 home runs and 30 RBI since Sept. 1. He batted a little worse than .338.
All of a sudden, Cabrera was leading in batting average and RBI, and was tied in home runs, and it was late in September. Time slowed back down. Way down. Each day, multiple players could derail Cabrera's accomplishment. Each day, he held them off.
Wednesday, the scenarios were in place. Josh Hamilton had to hit two home runs. Mike Trout had to have a perfect day. Neither happened. Before the Tigers even took to the field in Kansas City, the Triple Crown essentially belonged to Cabrera.
How do you prepare yourself to watch an accomplishment that hasn't been done in decades? How do you think you'll feel? I wondered that throughout the day, concluding that the slow boil of the day would keep the moment from having the emotional impact.
Boy was I wrong.
I've never been one for memorizing statistics. It's funny. I write about a game that revels in certain numbers that seemingly everybody remembers. I'm lucky if I recall the number of wins the team reached a year earlier.
But I'll remember a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI line for the rest of my life.
I guess that's how I'll remember the achievement. I'll literally remember the achievement.
You can have a fun debate whether Cabrera is the Tiger of All-Time, and you'll never be able to come to a conclusive answer.
But Cabrera is the Tiger of our time. I wasn't around for the others, so that's the time that counts to me.
Cabrera took a season that seemed mundane, that seemed like a disappointment, and he made it a year we'll never forget for the rest of our lives as baseball fans. And on top of that, he pulled his team into the postseason along with him.
Superlatives can't capture what it means to be a Tigers fan at this moment. I'm just going to revel in it.