Since he left the Red Sox, Orlando Cabrera has been with the Angels, White Sox, Twins, A's, and now the Indians. In 2004, he was the replacement for Nomar Garciaparra, and he helped bring the Red Sox over the hump. I still can't believe that they didn't keep him.
Last night, he was the 23rd out that didn't go quietly, so instead, he was the first hit in what could have been Justin Verlander's 3rd no hitter (Sandy Koufax, anyone?). Quietly, the Motor City is producing a pitcher who is flat out dominant (4-0 on a 2 hitter). Sure, there's the flip flop wins of the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees to keep the division close (as Derek Jeter goes on the 15-day disabled list to postpone the great annunciation of the the next member of the 3000 hit club), but last night, there were 3 base runners and 12 whiff victims as Verlander was flat out dealing.
It's stuff like that, which makes Albert Pujols sub .300 performance not matter (even if he had a homer last night in his team's losing efforts against the frickin' Nationals). One for three with 2 walks means he's only hitting .275, but Verlander... he's pitching to the tune of 8-3, 2.66, and 105 total strikeouts. That's just sick. And we didn't even mention the 0.89 WHIP after 15 games (that would be number one - just over Cole Hamels, who is slightly better on ERA and slightly less in strikeouts over 1 less game).
And while Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have more Ks and a lower ERA than he does, he's better than them on all other things. And he's doing it all in obscurity. Sure, Clayton Kershaw has a lot of strikeouts, too, but it's not like he's much better than the 6-3 record he's posting for the crappy Dodgers.
So when it comes time to meet up for the All Star Game in the desert this July, we need to be voting with something other than East Coast bias for the perennial favorites. It's time to reward some obscure excellence and some youthful greatness. This isn't about seeing the same old dinosaurs and extoling their former virtues. This is about raising a game from the aging nature of its stars that have long since gone away.
For that is the future of the game.