Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (Photo Courtesy: US Presswire)
There were no such thing as cellphones, Twitter and even the Internet the last time it happened, but Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown feat Wednesday still seemed lost in the dark ages.
Cabrera became the first player in 45 years to win baseball's Triple Crown, and only the 14th player in history, but the conclusion to what became an inevitable feat this week hardly resembled a coronation.
"Miguel has long been one of the most accomplished hitters in the game, and this recognition is one that he will be able to cherish for the rest of his career in baseball and beyond," said Commissioner Bud Selig.
Only three national baseball writers were in attendance to document the event Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo., where a spirited crowd dutifully recorded Cabrera's at-bats with their smartphones.
ESPN, however, did not cut in to Cabrera's at-bats, sticking with live coverage of the New York Yankees' chase for a division title.
We might see the Yankees win another 27 World Series titles before another Triple Crown.
"I don't think people realize what a special accomplishment it really is," Tigers President David Dombrowski said. "To lead all three categories the same year, to win the Triple Crown, is something most of us have never seen, and maybe will never see again."
Cabrera, hitless in two at-bats in his final game, led the American League in batting (.330), homers (44) and RBI (139), if not notoriety.
Tony La Russa managed the St.Louis Cardinals during the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, a story that dominated the sports news cycle for an entire summer.
"To win the Triple Crown, and do it on a first-place team, is absolutely heroic," La Russa said. "I hate to get on my soap box, but this should have been the lead story every day. It's magnificent what he's done."
Said 1967 winner Carl Yastrzemski: "I am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title. I was fortunate enough to win this award in 1967 as part of the Red Sox Impossible Dream Team."
Yet the Triple Crown, detractors say, simply doesn't have the same significance in today's baseball world. Sabermetricians believe that WAR (wins above replacement) is a much more accurate gauge of value. Further, batting average does not include walks, and RBI can largely depend on opportunity.
"I don't understand that; I really don't," Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig said. "Every player is in awe of what he did. But people tend to put more attention on other stats."
Yet Cabrera's accomplishment, players and managers say , is far more difficult now.
"Back in the day, you would see a pitcher four times in a game," said Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who finished second to Cabrera in home runs with 43. "Now you're lucky to see him two or three times. . The game is different."
Apparently, so is the interest.
By Bob Nightengale