JEFF: Taking a Sa-Bath-ia in Champagne
By Jeff Falconio
To get to this final day of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs, the New York Mets got a gritty, complete game performance from Johan Santana. But on the final day, CC Sabathia and the Brewers did one better. Sabathia did what an MVP caliber player does with October at stake: he delivered. Going the distance for the tenth time this year, Sabathia shut down the Chicago Cubs, giving up four hits while striking out seven.
More importantly, his performance allowed a rather punchless offense to get its act together. While fulfilling my Packers duties I kept an eye on the Major League Baseball scoreboard and all I saw was zeros. No offense from the Brewers, no offense from the Marlins, and no offense from the Packers either. Then Wes Helms, a former Brewer, swung for the fences for Florida. Then in the eighth, finally, Ryan Braun came through for the second time this week. When the ninth opened, there was no question the game was Sabathia's to win or lose.
Over the weekend somebody asked me who the NL MVP should be and I said a lot of that depends on what happens Sunday. Hey, Ryan Howard has had a great year for the Phillies. Considering he is the NL home run and RBI champ, there's a solid argument there. However, the real question is who's the most valuable? There is no doubt that without Sabathia, the Brewers don't win the wild card. Just look at this last week, pitching regularly on three days rest, Sabathia yielded just eight hits and one earned run in a mind-boggling 16 innings worth of work.
Howard's season-long barrage secured the NL East for the Phils but Philadelphia would still be in the playoff argument without him. The Brewers became a different team when Sabathia was acquired in July. And through it all, the near-disastrous sweep by the Cubs in late July, the sizzling August, the slumping September, through it all it came down to one guy. That's why the Brewers are in the playoffs and Sabathia is the most valuable heading into October.