Column: October baseball rewrites the books

Jonas Fortune

In the third inning of Game 6 in the 1991 World Series, Kirby Puckett scaled the centerfield wall at the Metrodome, robbing Atlanta’s Ron Gant of an extra base hit.

Puckett then stepped to the plate in the 11th inning and delivered the game-winning home run that sent the series to Game 7 and an eventual World Series title for the Minnesota Twins.

On that October day, Puckett solidified himself as a future baseball hall-of-famer and etched himself forever in memory. That is what October baseball is all about.

This year only looks to add to the postseason lore that seems to develop every year. Which role player will thrust themselves into stardom? Which superstar will appear legendary? Will the damn Yankees win another title to add to their 26 others?

Promising players look to showcase what they can do this postseason. The Tigers feature a young flame-thrower by the name of Justin Verlander who has been turning heads all season. If he can put the late-season fatigue issues behind him, look out Yankees.

The Yankees feature two young players in Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano. Wang has anchored the pitching staff by becoming a groundball machine who lets Derek Jeter and the other gold glovers do their jobs. Cano, on the other hand, has the sweetest swing in a lineup jam packed with former MVPs and bona fide stars.

A youth movement took place in L.A. this summer. Catcher Russ Martin and third baseman Wilson Betemit definitely need to come up big in order for the Dodgers to advance against the New York Mets and the most exciting young tandem in baseball: shortstop Jose Reyes and third baseman David Wright.

After a slow start the Twins turned up the volume and rode a winning streak all the way to a Central Division crown. Losing rookie sensation Francisco Liriano hurts, but a Johan Santana-led pitching staff could still take them deep into the playoffs.

This season the Twins’ Joe Mauer became the first catcher to win the American League batting title. The only other catchers to accomplish this feat were National leaguers Bubbles Hargrave in 1926 and Ernie Lombardi in 1938 and 1942. Mauer and Justin Morneau have quickly become steady, potent bats for perhaps the most dangerous team in the playoffs.

But when the dust settles, and it’s time to crown a champion, there is a good chance the New York Yankees will be fitted for their 27th ring. Acquiring table setter Johnny Damon and the mid-season addition of Bobby Abreu all but sealed a trip to the big dance.

The only question is who they will face.

The National league seemed to become a little more clouded this week when it was announced that Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez will miss the playoffs. All season the Mets have dominated their league foes, but, with the loss of Martinez, a weak pitching staff is getting stretched even thinner. Will the Mets still be able to reach the World Series without their dominant ace? I guess will we just have to watch all month to find out.

Contact sports columnist Jonas Fortune at [email protected]