David Lennon has been a staff writer for Newsday since 1991, when he started covering New York City
Enjoy that Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera, because there will be no World Series trophy for the Tigers this October.
Cabrera began Saturdayby accepting a cool-looking commemorative crown from Bud Selig, along with the Hank Aaron Award -- presented by the Hall of Famer himself -- for being the American League's top offensive player.
But the evening went downhill from there, and before long, the 42,262 fans stuffed into Comerica Park didn't bother with the 'M-V-P" chants that usually serenade Cabrera's trips to the plate. Apparently, like the Tigers, they had given up. All that's left is for Detroit to be put out of its offensive misery in Sunday night's Game 4.
"We're just not getting it done," Prince Fielder said. "Obviously, you don't visualize this."
The Tigers' frustration is evident. Cabrera ate his postgame dinner alone in the clubhouse kitchen, already in street clothes just 10 minutes after Omar Infante whiffed for the final out of the Tigers' 2-0 loss to the Giants in Game 3. He left without talking to the media, walking out with clear plastic shopping bags filled with World Series souvenirs in each hand.
The Tigers might not want to remember this one. As chilly as it was here -- the first-pitch temperature was 47 degrees -- Detroit's lineup looked frozen solid, and Cabrera again was outslugged by fellow Venezuelan Pablo Sandoval, who is a lock to be the World Series MVP.
Cabrera, shortly after accepting his blue-and-gold Triple Crown, went 1-for-4 in Game 3 and has only a pair of singles in nine at-bats. During this postseason, Cabrera is batting .267 (12-for-45) with one home run and six RBIs.
Sandoval eclipsed that in Game 1 of the World Series alone, and the man known as Kung Fu Panda is crushing the Tigers with a 7-for-11 performance in three games.
For Cabrera, the regular-season MVP will have to serve as a consolation prize. He ended a 45-year Triple Crown drought this season by leading the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs. The debate over whether he deserves the MVP rages on, however, and probably will continue long after the award is announced Nov. 15.
Aaron doesn't have a vote this year. But what he does have is 755 homers and his very own MVP, which he won in 1957 by finishing atop the NL in home runs (44), RBIs (132) and runs scored (118). In his Hall of Fame opinion, he believes Cabrera deserves the nod over the Angels' precocious rookie, Mike Trout.
"I think he did everything you could possibly do," Aaron said. "I think that if anybody is the most valuable player of the league, he certainly is."
Trout is the darling of the sabermetric crowd, which has determined his worth to be greater than Cabrera's based on a more detailed statistical breakdown of the two. By considering additional factors, such as Trout's ability to take extra bases and cover an expansive section of lawn in centerfield, the argument comes out in Trout's favor.
For Aaron, who retired in 1976, there's obviously a generation gap at work here. He's 78, but as someone who held the Triple Crown in high regard during his playing days, it's impossible for him to dismiss the achievement as some sort of mythical prize from a bygone era.
When Cabrera was presented the trophy, a beaming Bud Selig stood on one side of him with Frank Robinson -- a Triple Crown winner himself in 1966 -- on the other. Aaron must have felt a tiny twinge of jealousy. Three times in his 23-year career, he led the NL in homers and RBIs but couldn't get the third leg. In those three seasons -- 1957, '63, '66 -- he hit .322, .319 and .279. He also was a two-time batting champion, winning the title with a .328 average in 1956 and a .355 mark in '59.
In Saturday's news conference, Aaron made a point to mention that the Triple Crown was "the one thing that I didn't do." He also recounted a conversation he once had with Jackie Robinson, who told the young Aaron that the two most important parts of baseball were scoring runs and driving them in.
Sounds simple enough, but the words stuck in Aaron's mind above all else. "That means you have done something to help your ballclub win games," Aaron recalled Robinson saying to him. "And I always felt that way."
Cabrera isn't doing it anymore, and the timing is going to mean curtains for the Tigers.