WHO SAYS SEA­SON ISN’T LE­GIT?

TELL THAT TO THE GUYS WHO HAVE SOX IN PLAY­OFFS AND CUBS ON DOORSTEP

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY STEVE GREEN­BERG sgreen­berg@sun­times.com @slgreen­berg

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. ✶

GETTY IM­AGES, AP PHOTO

Ian Happ

Luis Robert

Yu Darvish

Jose Abreu

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