24 wins. 250 strikeouts. Cy Young Award. American League MVP.
Just another day for Justin Verlander, right?
Not quite. With his shiny new MVP trophy came the knowledge that JV is the first pitcher to win the award in 19 (!) years. That is pretty amazing, not only for Justin, who must be on cloud nine right now, but also for the Tigers organization and the city of Detroit.
Despite Cleveland writer's best efforts, JV has successfully bucked the trend of Tigers being shafted during awards season. And it's no wonder. With his absolutely dominating season, even ESPN realized there was baseball outside of New York or Boston. So suck on that, Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury! Actually, New York fans from what we could tell have been pretty gracious. It's the whiny, still-hurting Sawx fans that are really upset. Not like we care. Not like Justin cares.
Obviously this means a lot to Justin. He himself said that "not even in his wildest dreams" did he think this could happen. We hope Tigers fans everywhere appreciate that not only is he one of the best pitchers that will ever come through the organization, but also that he is one of the most humble and generous. As soon as the award was announced he thanked the city of Detroit, his teammates, and the fans, and also said he was never prouder to "represent Detroit--city of resilience and pride." He then got #DetroitPride trending on Twitter in the United States in ten minutes.
Who else does this? How many athletes do you see these days putting the city and the fans, especially a city as down-on-its-luck as Detroit, before themselves, especially when they and they alone have accomplished so much? Most pros would not do that. In a sports world that has been bombarded lately with scandals and fines and crappy sportsmanship, it is refreshing and heartwarming to see one who, despite all his success, plays with his city and teammates in mind, not himself. It's even better to know that this man is a Tiger, and will be for a while.
It's so important that we fans appreciate his greatness, and never take it for granted. Players like Justin Verlander only come around every so often. Seasons like the one he just had are even rarer.
Congrats, Justin Verlander, 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner. You make Detroit proud.