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Giving Thanks: The American League East

Nov 25, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

Thanksgiving

I don’t have a ton of Thanksgiving traditions, but there are a few: I tend to start drinking right around the time the Macy’s Parade ends. I force myself to watch part of the Detroit Lions game because it almost, but not quite, reminds that there was a time in my life when I cared about what happened to the Detroit Lions. I turn the Lions game off ten minutes later and tell someone in my family what I really think about them. And since 2007 I think about what baseball teams have to be thankful for this holiday season and package it all up in a few posts so that the shut-ins and loners in Greater HardballTalkistan have something to read on a day when every other blog goes dark.

So, without further ado, the first of six installments you’ll read today about those things for which teams have to give thanks:

Tampa Bay Rays: The spring, which was very, very good to them, particularly on the road, allowing the Rays to jump out to a decent lead in the AL East. When the weather got hotter and the bats began to wilt, that cushion was nice to have.

New York Yankees: The little guys. At least relatively speaking. If I told you before the season that Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Burnett and Posada were all going to have off years you wouldn’t have guessed that the Yankees would be playing in October. But they did thanks to Robinson Cano — probably too big to be a little guy, but compared to the other infielders, he is — Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher and Phil Hughes. Big contributions from so many guys who were thought of as bit players saved this team in 2010.

Boston Red Sox: Kevin Youkilis. Right now we don’t know if Adrian Beltre will come back. We don’t know if they can land Jayson Werth. But with Youkilis around we do know that they’ll still have an All-Star bat in the lineup and, more importantly, the flexibility to pursue both third base and first base options out on the market to fill the holes. Am I too optimistic about Youkilis’ prospects at third base? Maybe, but I really do think he can handle it alright if Beltre bolts and the Sox find themselves a first baseman.

Toronto Blue Jays: Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil and whatever motivation was gained by everyone and their brother picking the Jays to finish in the cellar. The young rotation took a big step forward, Jose Bautista was insane, and even Vernon Wells stepped into the juvenation machine to help Toronto play some damn fine baseball all year. The sort of which, if it had occurred in other divisions, would have had them snagging more headlines than they ultimately did.

Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter. I’m still not convinced that Showalter isn’t really just a sophisticated version of Annie Savoy’s garters, convincing the Orioles that their downright respectable second half was all his doing as opposed to chance, metaphysics and regression to the mean. But it probably doesn’t matter either, because the Orioles seem to believe in it. Their fans seem to believe in it. And if the O’s can avoid another awful start in 2011, maybe it doesn’t matter if it was Buck or the fates that put them on the right track late last year.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Nov 25, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    That painting by the struggling artist seems to have faded to black and white since last year. Were beagles domesticated by 1621?
    Happy Thanksgiving to the Shyster family, and Aaron, Drew, D.J. et al.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 25, 2010 at 9:17 AM

      Don’t worry: the pics will change throughout the day. There’s sort of a theme, actually.

      • yankeesfanlen - Nov 25, 2010 at 9:33 AM

        Great- Can hardly wait until Disco Thanksgiving somewhere in the middle of the Lions game.

    • Glenn - Nov 25, 2010 at 9:27 AM

      All beagles were wild and untamed in 1621. They weren’t captured and domesticated until the mid 1960’s.

      Bless you, Craig, for doing this. I feared the HBT withdrawal..

  2. Glenn - Nov 25, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    BTW: When did the Macy’s Parade coverage become one big stage show advertisement for Broadway? It’s almost like the parade is getting in the way. Meanwhile, CBS is showing a bunch of pre-taped musical performances that have nothing to do with the parade at all. Do we really need to see an impersonation of the Beatles on a roof top (right down to the ad libs!)?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 25, 2010 at 9:33 AM

      Yeah. My kids are watching it. I haven’t watched it for a while. I don’t remember as many Broadway shows being a part of it, but maybe they were. I was mostly just groovin’ on the balloons.

  3. heiniemanush - Nov 25, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Being a fellow former Lions fan I feel your pain. But since giving up on watching football my days are filled with radiant sunshine. Only 80 some days until pitchers and catchers!

  4. rmalmstrom - Nov 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Thanks for giving me something to read while I let the better half sleep in. Happy thanksgiving to you.

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