Among the tidbits in Tom Verducci's (slightly preliminary) decade wrap-up, the best is this: "Almost every category has long been decided, but there is a Batting Champion of the Decade race that is a real beauty: Suzuki and Pujols battling to the last day of the season."
Indeed, at this moment Pujols holds a one-point lead, .334 to .333.
Verducci says Ichiro's only six hits behind, for the decade. But I think he didn't do the exact calculations, because I have Ichiro eight hits behind. Which I bring up only because that's essentially the gap he'll have to close before the season ends, made all the tougher because Pujols probably will be rested some down the stretch. Still, in a late September and early October that will be completely free of pennant races, we need something to track, right? Any port in a storm ...
Oh, and then there's this little monument to East Coast Bias:
- The team of the aughts will be decided this postseason. The Yankees have the most wins this decade and the most World Series appearances, but the Red Sox have the most world championships and are looking for a third when no one else has two. The Cardinals could get into the mix with their second world championship this decade.
I'm not sure what "into the mix" means. Is that like when somebody tells me that when we're talking about the Cy Young Award in the American League, Scott Feldman is "in the mix?"
I suppose it depends on the depth of one's ballot. MVP voters have to list 10 candidates, and are advised to carefully consider all 10 places. By that standard, Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez and Marco Scutaro all should be in the American League MVP mix.
But that's not the standard most of us are thinking about. When we're talking about the MVP or the Cy Young, we're interested in who should (or will) win, with little thought of fifth place. And I think the same is true when choosing our Team of the Aughts. Sure, the Cardinals have a shot at third (or even second) place if they win the World Series next month. Shoot, we can name them National League Team of the Aughts right now.
But that's not the question. The answer to the question has to be the Yankees or the Red Sox. A few relevant numbers:
Wins: Yankees 955, Red Sox 909
Postseason Wins: Yankees 41, Red Sox 34
American League pennants: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2
World Championships: Red Sox 2, Yankees 1
Gosh, it's not as close as I thought.
If the Yankees advance farther than the Red Sox next month, it's a landslide.
If the Red Sox reach the World Series but don't win, you might make an argument for them, based on the primacy of world championships, their historical significance, their sentimental value, and their jewel of a ballpark.
If the Red Sox do win the World Series, then you'd have a pretty decent case because of their big edge in world championships and American League pennants, and because they would have closed (and perhaps eliminated) the Yankees' edge in postseason wins.
So yes, the jury's still out. As usual in those parts, nothing will be decided until autumn in New England.