Before I get to the highlights of the 2017 Major League Baseball season I must first turn my attention to the tragedy that occurred yesterday afternoon. Major League Baseball, the sports world, and all of humanity lost one of its own way too soon. Roy Halliday, winner of 2 Cy Young awards, ace of the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies passed away in a plane crash over the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida. Halliday was only 40 years old.
2010 was Halliday’s most successful season. Pitching for the Phillies, he won 21 games and struck out 219 batters. The two biggest highlights of his epic 2010 campaign were his two no-hit games. The first one was on the Saturday night of Memorial Day Weekend. Halliday pitched a perfect game in Miami against the then Florida Marlins. He followed up that performance in his first start of the post-season. Halliday threw the second no-hitter in playoff/World Series history in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Rest in peace Roy Halliday, and on behalf of all baseball fans and beyond, thank you for some great memories.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season began with a championship flag raising that was 108 years in the making. It ended with a 55-year-old franchise that has played in both leagues, hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time. There were so many other twists and turns in between.
For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs players raise the 2016 World Championship flag themselves at Wrigley Field.
There was a revival on Broadway, as the Yankees were the surprise of the American League East. Led by rookie right-fielder Aaron Judge and his and his 52 home runs, the Bronx Bombers qualified for the post-season by winning the first Wild Card. They would defeat the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Game, eliminate the top seeded Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, and come within a game of the World Series. They lost to the eventual World Champions Houston Astros in seven games. There is a bright future in the Bronx for sure.
Indians fans celebrate after their beloved Tribe win their American League record 22nd consecutive game.
About those Cleveland Indians, despite a disappointing seven game loss to the upstarts from the Big Apple, and seeing their championship drought advance to 69 years th Tribe had a season that should still make Cleveland proud. They led the American League with a 102-60 mark and won the Central Division by 17 games over the second Wild Card winning Twins. The highlight of the Indians season however, was their American League record 22 game winning streak that began with a 13-6 drubbing of the Boston Red Sox on August 24th, and was snapped by the Kansas City Royals on September 15th.
Yes, there was a great season in the Bronx, but in South Florida (a/k/a the Sixth Boro) there was also plenty going on. The Marlins hosted an epic All-Star Week in July, with lots of Yankee influence. Aaron Judge came from 22 homers behind to hometown first baseman Justin Bour to win his first round match-up in the Home Run Derby. Judge would go on to win the Derby. The following night, in a low scoring All-Star Game, former Yankee Robinson Cano (currently with the Seattle Mariners) hit a solo home run in the top of the tenth inning to give the American League a 2-1 victory. The game winning home run earned Cano the MVP award.
Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton led the Majors with 59 home runs.
All-Star Week wasn’t the only news to come out of South Beach. For a team that finished the season with a 77-85 record, and finished a distant second (20 games) to the Washington Nationals in the National League East, the Marlins made plenty of headlines. Giancarlo Stanton flirted with Roger Maris’ home run total as the season came to a climax. He fell two shy, ending the season with 59 round-trippers. He also paced the Majors with 132 RBI. Stanton’s teammate Marcell Ozuna finished in second behind his teammate with 124. Miami second baseman Dee Gordon won the Stolen Base title with 60 swipes. Finally, the Majors saw one no-hitter this year. It occurred at Marlins Park, when Marlins’ Edinson Volquez held the Arizona Diamondbacks hitless in a 3-0 win.
In Hollywood there was another young star that burst onto the scene. Cody Bellinger was brought up from the Minor Leagues at the end of April. At the time the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies were neck and neck for the first three spots in the National League West. After Bellinger’s promotion, the Boys from Hollywood went 43-7 over their next 50 games. They would run away from Arizona and Colorado (who would win the two NL Wild Cards) during that stretch and finish the regular season with a MLB best 104-58 record. Bellinger finished his rookie campaign with 39 home runs and 97 RBI.
The Houston Astros celebrate after winning the 2017 World Series.
The 2017 season ended with a seven game epic World Series between the Dodgers and the Houston Astros. After splitting the first four games, the two teams would have a slug-fest for the ages in Game 5 . In a contest that ended around 1:00 am in the east, the Astros went into the top of the ninth with a 12-9 lead. The Dodgers plated 3 in the top of the ninth to tie it. Houston erased three Los Angeles leads in the game and won the game via a walk-off single by Alex Bregman. The Dodgers would stay alive with a 3-1 win in Game 6 on Halloween night, the Astros would win Game 7 by the score of 5-1.
The Astros World Championship was fitting in my opinion. The victory capped off a memorable summer in Southeast Texas. Hurricane Harvey ravaged the area in August, some areas are still rebuilding.
This is the season finale for Wednesday Night Baseball. I will be checking in on the Hot Stove Season from time to time on my Sunday Sports Blog. Wednesday Night Baseball will return during next year’s Spring Training and the start of the 2018 season. It’s been a joy to bring you all of my thoughts and memories throughout this year.
My Sunday blog will be on hiatus this coming Sunday as I spend time with family. I will see those of you who follow me on Sundays on November 19th. For you baseball only fans, I’ll see you at the Hot Stove, an have a great winter!