Year In Review : 2008 National League
Off the field...
The price of petroleum hit $100 per barrel for the first time in 2008, the mortgage crisis continued, banks & insurance companies folded, and an economic crisis struck countless families throughout the entire year / season. Some say it is a recession, others say it is not, regardless of what they choose to call it — times are hard.
The chairman and richest man in the world, Bill Gates, officially retired as the chairman of Microsoft Corporation on June 27 to concentrate on philanthropy.
During most of August countries from around the world took part in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing, China. More than 10,000 athletes competed in 302 events covering 28 different sports and most memorable for all who watched were the records: 43 new world records and 132 Olympic records were set.
In the American League...
The end of Yankee Stadium, it almost does not seem possible to imagine baseball without the House That Ruth Built, but 2008 marked the final season in what can arguably be considered the single most historic stadium in all the sporting world.
The 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays finished four games shy of a 100-loss season and in last place of the East. This year was truly their Cinderella story as they changed their name to the Tampa Bay Rays then took a payroll that was $160+ million dollars less than the New York Yankees to a first place finish in the East are in the post season every current major league franchise has now been to the playoffs at least once.
Six months of baseball wasn't enough in the Central to determine who would receive the final playoff spot. The White Sox defeated the Indians, 5-1, on the final scheduled day of the regular season while the Twins beat the Royals, 6-0, to keep the Twins a half-game ahead of Chicago in the American League Central. That half-game made it necessary for Chicago to make up a September 13th rainout against Detroit. The White Sox won the makeup game forcing a tiebreaker game which they also won to truly earn a sport in the postseason.
In the National League...
Shea Stadium opened for business on April 17, 1964. More than forty former players and managers were on hand to watch the New York Mets close out their regular season in what would become the final game in Shea Stadium history — for the second successive year, they were eliminated by the Florida Marlins. For the record, the last out of the last game at Shea was recorded at 5:05 p.m. ET.
Washington D.C. officially welcomed the game back home by christening
Nationals Park in 2008. A few hours after the President of the United States delivered the first pitch,
Ryan Zimmerman sent everyone home happy with the season's first walk-off home run.
The Rays made it to the postseason on virtually no payroll (29th overall), could the Marlins (30th overall) setup a possible "Alligator Alley" Series? The Fish stayed in the race for one-hundred fifty-seven games and finished one Jorge
Cantu home run away from having four infielders with thirty-plus round trippers.
Around the League...
Cubs versus White Sox in Chicago. Angels versus Dodgers in Los Angeles. No New York team for first time in postseason history since 1993! The Devil Rays, oops, who are now called the Rays, with a payroll which if doubled would not break the top ten beating out both the Red Sox & Yankees. The 2008 regular season was truly one for the books or should we say Baseball Almanac...
Josh Hamilton put on a home run slugging display that was simply beyond phenomenal during the 2008 Home Run Derby. MLB.com columnist Mychael Urban said the balls hit by Hamilton, "bordered on ridiculous" and we could not agree more.
The trade deadline used to be a thing of excitement; would your team get a big slugger, another ace, a dominant bullpen pitcher, a solid fielder, or some other piece of their postseason puzzle. The past few years have been a let down for most teams as big names did not seem to change, 2008 was different as these stars changed to new constellations: Ken Griffey, Jr., Rich Harden, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia & Mark Teixeira.