WHO SAYS SEASON ISN’T LEGIT?
TELL THAT TO THE GUYS WHO HAVE SOX IN PLAYOFFS AND CUBS ON DOORSTEP
A60-game regular season? That’s not baseball. That’s no way to determine which teams truly are of playoff caliber, let alone who’s worthy of the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and other individual awards.
Sixty games? More like 60 asterisks. The whole thing just isn’t legit.
The above fairly captures what many of us surely felt as Major League Baseball scrambled to get a season going in the muck of a pandemic and the mire of bad-faith negotiations between it and its players’ union. Whatever followed would be fine if it worked — baseball is a lot better than no baseball, after all — but there would be, even in the best-case scenario, a limit to its legitimacy.
Yet here we are. The White Sox have wrapped up their first playoff berth since 2008. The Cubs are a breath away from a magic number of zero. Both teams should win their divisions.
As we head into the last full week of the season, the Sox’ Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson — the latter going for his second consecutive batting title — each has a clear shot at winning his first American League MVP award. The Cubs’ Yu Darvish is at or near the top of the National League’s Cy Young race. The Sox’ Luis Robert and Rick Renteria practically can reach out and touch their AL Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year awards.
They, and their teams, no doubt share an opinion on the ‘‘legitimacy’’ issue. They probably wouldn’t verbalize it as we will here, but if we may speak for them:
Kiss our asterisks.
What are they supposed to do, apologize? Sixty games might or might not be a definitive sample, but tell that to Darvish, who has rewritten his script — from megamillions bust to master of his domain.
Tell it to Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito, who, like Darvish, has cemented himself as an ace. Tell it to Abreu, who has made a mockery of the idea that his team might not have re-signed him after his sixth season. Tell it to Eloy Jimenez, who has ascended from rough-around-theedges to rock star. Tell it to Robert, whose swing-and-miss ways are nothing in the grand scheme of his jaw-dropping ability. Tell it to young pitchers Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, who keep rising to the moment.
Tell it to Cubs center fielder Ian Happ, who has moved to the front of the line in a lineup that desperately needed his kind of help. Tell it to Jason Heyward, whose gaudy contract isn’t an issue anymore. Tell it to out-of-nowhere Alec Mills, who has held down a spot in the rotation as reliably as Jose Quintana or Tyler Chatwood would have. Tell it to rookie manager David Ross, who has been good enough that nobody’s talking about Joe Maddon.
Tell it to big-money free agent Dallas Keuchel, who looks like a master stroke for the Sox, and to tiny-money free agent Jeremy Jeffress, who has been a steal for the Cubs. Tell it to Sox closer Alex Colome, who continues to solidify himself as one of the finest at his craft, and to Cubs supposed-tobe closer Craig Kimbrel, who has had just enough time in this short season to work himself out of the woods with an outstanding — though he isn’t closing — September.
That’s a whole lot of ‘‘tell it tos.’’ Sorry if we went overboard. But you know what? Baseball in Chicago for the last couple of months has been a hell of a good time. We’ve learned some things, too, along the way — enough for us to say, again speaking for this pair of teams headed for the postseason: Kiss our asterisks.
Sixty is the new 162. ✶