From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera is waiting for the crown that was presented to him at the World Series to arrive at his home. He'll give it a prominent spot in his office."I'll show it to my friends, my family," the Detroit Tigers third baseman said Monday after adding another honor by beating out Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen and Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout for player of the year as voted on by their fellow major leaguers. "I think it's going to be something special for my kids. ... It's going to be a good story for my grandkids."Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in the big leagues since 1967, hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs for the AL champion Tigers. The slugger was given an actual crown by Major League Baseball during the World Series in honor of his achievement.Detroit was swept by San Francisco in the World Series. Cabrera hit .231 with three RBIs and ended the Series by taking a called third strike."It's really disappointing because we didn't want to finish like we finished," he said. "It was very hard to accept how we lost."But winning the Players Choice Award was special because the voters were his big league peers."It makes you feel proud and makes you feel like you've got to work harder, you've got to work to get better," the 29-year-old Cabrera said. "You've got to get better every year."Retiring Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was voted Marvin Miller man of the year for excellence on and off the field over finalists Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox and Michael Young of Texas in Players Choice voting announced Monday.Other awards went to Cabrera (AL outstanding player), McCutchen (NL outstanding player), Tampa Bay's David Price (AL outstanding pitcher) and New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (NL outstanding pitcher). Trout and Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier were voted the outstanding rookies, and Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco catcher Buster Posey were chosen comeback players of the year.Voting took place in September.
“We’re a blue-collar team…”
Devin McCourty didn’t hesitate when asked about the Patriots’ identity. Moments prior, McCourty and his teammates had just stomped the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, 33-8, to run their win streak to a half-dozen games. The Pats are tied for the best record in the AFC with the Steelers
“We played at a high level,” said McCourty. “They made some plays, but I thought we executed our game plan and did exactly what we wanted to do today.”
- Curran's Patriots-Raiders preview/review
- Charlie Weis shares text he sent to Brady during game
- Game notes: Patriots tie Browns for second-longest streak
After surrendering a 100-points per game through the first month (ok, it was only 32), the Pats defense has flexed their muscle during this stretch, allowing 12.5 points per game, which would be the best in the NFL were this a season-long thing. We’re not looking at the same unit even though the personnel is largely the same. If anything, from a talent-level, this defense has less skill than it did when the season started. Their best player, Dont'a Hightower, is out for the year, lost during the first win of this 6-game streak. They’ve also survived three-game absences from $31-million cornerback Stephon Gilmore and their most consistent interior defender, tackle Malcom Brown. Yet the defense keeps showing up, keeps improving and its confidence is growing by leaps and bounds.
“We’re just playing together…we’re kind of figuring that out,” said McCourty. “We’re understanding how we need to prepare, how we need to practice, whether it’s a hard, full-padded practice, whether it’s a walkthrough, we know what we need to do on each of those days and when we do that, we give ourselves a chance. You’re seeing that on Sundays. Everyone running around, everyone knows their job and it’s all about execution.”
“I thought our players gave a great effort tonight,” said Bill Belichick. “We came out and performed well early, throughout the game and played really good situational football.”
The Pats were opportunistic, forcing three turnovers, including one in a huge spot, when Marquis Flowers stripped the ball from wideout Seth Roberts as the Raiders were knocking on the door. It was 14-0 at the time, and Oakland had life. Second-year cornerback Jon Jones battled Roberts, Flowers popped the ball free and safety Pat Chung pounced on it. Instead of milking the clock and heading into halftime up two scores, the Pats turned that fumble into points, driving to midfield before Steven Gostkowski kicked a career-long 62 yarder. That further energized a Pats team that was already surging.
“It’s something we talk about every week,” said McCourty. “We’re playing solid defense, executing the game plan, but changing the game with turnovers - you know, even Duron’s interception was a third down so it was kind of like a punt. The energy that brings - when the offense takes the field after we get a turnover - that’s huge. And then with them driving again in the red area before the half is what we talked about, getting that stop.”
“We had some real critical swings with those turnovers,” admired Tom Brady, a chief beneficiary of those change in possessions.
Earlier this week, I asked McCourty if he got a sense that the team was coming together at the tail end of their stay in Colorado Springs. He smiled and joked initially, but you could sense the veteran safety can see and feel what the rest of the league is now a witness to.
“I hope so. I mean, it’d probably be terrible if I say yeah and then we go on a five-game losing streak. I can see the headline: ‘McCourty was wrong.’ So, no, I think we understand how the season starts to pick up. You know, each game means more. We understand that seven wins (now 8) doesn’t mean anything. We have to continue to get better. So, I think why we end up usually improving is because it’s the understanding of there’s no tomorrow.”
The defense ordered that Code Red after losing to Carolina in Week 4, and since then, they have worked harder, worked longer and cleaned up so many of the issues that ailed them that opening month. It’s a credit to the players, “they won’ the game tonight,” said Belichick, and the coaching staff as well. if you’ve followed this team over the years, you know even now, they’re not satisfied. There are “things to work on” added Belichick and they’ll start that work on the flight home from Mexico City to Foxboro.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE
What predictions did Tom E. Curran get right? What predictions did he get wrong? Find out in the preview/review of Sunday's game between the Patriots and Raiders