I must say that usually the summer is when the sports news usually slows down and we take the time to reflect. Not this season, between free agency, the draft, US Soccer, Lance Armstrong going for #8, and the death of Air McNair, the news has continually flowed in.
However, lets not forget that game that's played on the diamond. There are some exceptional stories happening in baseball, regardless of any steroid allegations or that dude named Bud Selig. Let's get into it.
National League MVP - Albert Pujols, Cardinals: He hit an absurd 14 HRs in June, and now Pujols sits at 31 HRs and 82 RBIs at the half. 60 HRs is a real possibility as the Cardinals battle for the NL Central title. His OPS (On-Base % + Slugging % for you novices)is near 1.200 overall (that's alot), By the way, and he stole 9 bases for good measure. At this point, he is the preeminent force in baseball today, and folks are going to realize, either you walk him or he's gonna beat you.
American League MVP - Torii Hunter, Angels: Sitting quietly in the suburbs of LA, Torii Hunter wants you to respect his gangsta. He's been saying it for years, "I can lead a team, and I am a great player." After signing him to a 5 year, $70M contract in 2008 the Angels wondered if he was really worth the investment. He is cashing in royally now, currently hitting a remarkable .305 average while bashing 17 HRs and 65 RBIs while stealing 13 bases. The Angels are in 1st place while dealing with injuries and new young players and a ton of thanks goes to Torii. Respect given sir.
National League Cy Young Award - Tim Lincecum, Giants: The MLB 2K9 coverboy has led up to his billing, and at this point he's probably the best pitcher in baseball. Averaging more than a strike per inning, he's got a low-2 ERA and 9 wins at the half. The San Francisco Giants are actually relevant again since the Bonds era. Dan Haren probably could win this award too, we'll see what happens.
American League Cy Young Award - Zack Grienke, Royals: Kansas City is just blessed to have this guy rolling, at one point Grienke was battling depression and thought that he might not ever pitch again. Now? He's the best pitcher in the American League. 10 wins and at a strikeout per inning clip will do that for a pitcher. Now if the Royals could only improve at every other DEPRESSED position on their team, then they might be on to something. Sorry about that Stank-O and any other Kansas City fans.
National League Breakout Player - Pablo Sandoval, Giants: Also known as "Kung Fu Panda" by Giants' fans, the 5'11", 245-pound corner infield has brought flexibility, power, and versatility to the Giants' lineup. Able to play first base, third base, and catcher, he helps out big time. Plus, he's sporting a .328 average with 13 HRs and 48 RBIs at the half. Keep it up Big Panda.
American League Breakout Player - Aaron Hill, Blue Jays: Who saw this coming? I surely didn't or I would've picked him on my fantasy baseball team...(By the way, if you are in my fantasy baseball league, I need to make some trades so holla at me)...Getting 20 HRs at the half from your second baseman is huge, and he brings his glove to the field as well. I foresee a golden glove sitting on his mantle by the time the season ends.
National League Rookie of the Year - Colby Rasmus, Cardinals: Hitting in front or behind Albert Pujols doesn't hurt, and Rasmus has begun to prove that he's worthy of handling such a role. The rookie has 10 HRs and 32 RBIs at the half and more playing time is sure to follow, plus he plays a mean center field.
American League Rookie of the Year - Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: If you haven't heard, the Jays are thinking of moving Roy Halladay, maybe the best pitcher in baseball. Why would they do that? I have no clue, but one reason might be Romero. He's been lights out since getting called up and has not disappointed yet. He's currently 6-3, with a 2.85 ERA and a recent pitching gem against the hated (or loved) New York Yankees, holding them to one run.
We all know that this is just the first half of the season, and as wild card races and pennant races start to tighten up, these players will be called upon to do great things. We'll see what happens as summer turns into fall.
DID I PICK THE WRONG PERSON? WHO SHOULD REALLY WIN THESE AWARDS? WHO'S WATCHING THE HOME RUN DERBY? LET US KNOW!