Baseball: The Dark Days of the Offseason

by Phil Kehres*
Special to iVoryTowerz

Phillies fans finally have their championship, and with that comes a period of revelatory celebration and a honeymoon period that will carry them through the beginning of next season. For the rest of us, these are the darkest days. Even if we non-Philly fans were rooting for the Phillies, the end of the World Series brings about emptiness beyond description. For one thing, as captivating as it was, it wasn’t our team taking home the hardware. Worst of all, the end of the World Series means the end of baseball until next spring. Sure, there’s football and basketball and hockey and all those shenanigans — that’s all well and good, but it’s not baseball. So what do we do to keep ourselves occupied until the 2009 season starts up? Fortunately, there’s plenty to look forward to, particularly in this offseason.

First and foremost, we have the end-of-season awards. As always, there’s a great deal of intrigue and drama surrounding the announcements of the recipients of baseball’s most prestigious awards. Will Cliff Lee cap off his miraculous turnaround season with an American League Cy Young, or will voters be seduced by Frankie Rodriguez’ gaudy saves record? Will Albert Pujols win the MVP he quietly deserves, or will Ryan Howard’s 48 homers provide an “OOH, SHINY!!!” excuse for voters to overlook Albert? Who takes home the AL MVP from a field of worthy candidates where no one person stands out? Only the Baseball Writers' Association of America knows the answers. Here are some key dates to watch for award announcements:

- AL Rookie of the Year: Nov. 10
- NL Rookie of the Year: Nov. 10
- NL Cy Young Award: Nov. 11
- AL Manager of the Year: Nov. 12
- NL Manager of the Year: Nov. 12
- AL Cy Young Award: Nov. 13
- NL Most Valuable Player: Nov. 17
- AL Most Valuable Player: Nov. 18

The next thing to watch for is the 2008 Major League Baseball General Manager winter meetings, from December 8-11 in Las Vegas. Here, GMs from around the league meet for days of tough negotiations, often leading to blockbuster trades that will shape the future of a ballclub. Last year’s meetings produced the infamous Miguel Cabrera trade that prompted many to predict the Detroit Tigers would win the Series (How’d that turn out for ya, Detroit? Not too good, I hear). Regardless of the outcome of a particular trade, though, this year’s juicy list of free agents, headlined by the likes of pitcher C.C. Sabathia and left fielder Manny Ramirez, is sure to produce some headlines coming out of Vegas.

Baseball fans will get a special treat this offseason, as the World Baseball Classic (WBC) returns in March, pitting national teams from around the globe in a double elimination tournament. Can the U.S. team redeem itself after an embarrassing elimination in 2006, or will the team again be outshined by their international counterparts?

In between the winter meetings and the WBC, there’s plenty of spring training fun too. But let’s be honest — there’s only one date that really matters, and that’s April 6th. Everything else up until then is hibernation in one form or another. On April 6th, the sun will shine again and John Fogerty will crank up the band.

Rest up — 2009's gonna be another wild season.

*Phil Kehres is one of the authors of Excuse Me, Is That Your Blog?

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