Miggy takes baseball back to antiquity
If Miguel Cabrera - known as Miggy - doesn't ring a bell, that's probably because you are not an ESPN-addicted insomniac and baseball is not your game.
Nevertheless, Cabrera's achievements last week rank with some of the great events in sport.
He ended the regular season in the American League unsurpassed in home runs, batting average and RBIs. It's called the Triple Crown and was last registered 45 years ago by Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox, who chain-smoked off the field.
Home runs are straightforward, baseball's batting average not so. It is the number of hits divided by "at bats" and is a descendant of the cricket version.
A season batting average higher than .300 is considered outstanding. One of .400 is Bradmanesque and was last achieved in 1941, when Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox hit .406, seven years before Don Bradman retired with a test average of 99.94.
Cricket's next best, by the way, were Graeme Pollock (60.97 in 23 Tests and 41 innings, four of them unbeaten) and George Headley of the West Indies (60.83 from 22 Tests and 40 innings, four unbeaten). Bradman played 52 Tests, batting in 80 innings and was not out 10 times, which shows just how good he was.
Williams, who had a career average of .344, did the Triple Crown twice and coached Yastrzemski in hitting, died in 2002 at the age of 83. His head and body have been frozen (separately at an Arizona cryonics lab). Two of his children wanted him preserved to "be able to be together in the future, even if it is only a chance". Someone should have thought about that for Bradman "even if it is only a chance".
"Runs batted in" (RBI) is a baseball statistic (often now derided) that credits a batter who has contributed to a run, even if he doesn't make it to first but gets a runner home.
To tick all three these batting boxes at the end of a season makes Miggy something special. Some of baseball's greats never made it. They include Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, and even Willie Mays, a personal favourite. Those who did were Williams, Mickey Mantle and Ty Cobb.
Miggy plays for the Detroit Tigers, the oldest team in the American League, which has kept its name and stayed in the same city since it was formed in 1894. Cobb played for them when he did the treble in 1909.
One reason for Miggy's success this season has to do with Prince Fielder, a burly bloke who throws left, hits right and was briefly a vegetarian. He came to the Tigers from the Brewers last year on a nine-year $214-million contract. He's a power-hitting first baseman, whose average last season was .344. He bats after Miggy, so there's no point in the pitching team walking Cabrera.
This is why Miggy has held off rivals (some of whom came close to spoiling his Triple Crown) for a home-run total of 44, batting average of .330 and RBIs of 139.
And the reason for sharing all this? It's a fine story, the defeat of the Boks was dealt with here last week already, and my colleagues wouldn't give Miggy his due in The Times last Friday.
The Tigers beat Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Saturday night in the first play-off for the divisional title. Cabrera went 0 for 3 with a walk.