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FROM MY SEAT: Triple Play

A troika: DeAngelo; MLB's rightful MVPs; and Sayonara to Jeremy.


I couldn’t decide among a troika of topics this week, so consider this three for the price of one.

Having gained 136 yards in the University of Memphis’ loss at UCF, DeAngelo Williams already has 885 for the season and 4,947 for his career. With six regular season games to play, Williams needs to average 108.3 to move into fifth place in NCAA history (Travis Prentice of Miami-Ohio gained 5,596 yards from 1996 to ‘99.) If Williams averages 176, he’ll join Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, Texas’ Ricky Williams, and Pittsburgh’s Tony Dorsett as the only players in NCAA history to rush for 6,000 yards. You’ll note that each of those three happened to win the Heisman Trophy. The diminishing chances of Memphis (now 2-3) reaching the C-USA title game or a bowl contest will hurt Williams in his pursuit of 6,000.

There’s been much debate over baseball’s compelling MVP races this year. Here’s one more opinion for you to digest.

NATIONAL LEAGUE: With apologies to the Cubs’ Derrek Lee (.335 batting average, 46 homers, 107 RBIs), this is a two-horse race between Atlanta’s Andruw Jones and St. Louis’ Albert Pujols. Jones won two-thirds of the Triple Crown, leading the senior circuit in home runs (51) and RBIs (128). The fact that he will win his eighth straight Gold Glove at one of the game’s three hardest positions (centerfield) makes me want to give him my vote. But I can’t.

Over his first four seasons, Pujols finished fourth, second, second, and third in MVP voting, Barry Bonds winning each year. And while this is an honor that should reflect 2005 performance only, there are intangible tie-breakers that factor into a voter’s consideration, and you can bet Pujols’ track record will. He finished third in home runs (41) and second in RBIs (117) but has a considerable edge over Jones in four other major categories: batting average (.330 to .263), on-base percentage (.430 to .347), slugging percentage (.609 to .575) and runs (129 to 95). He’s no Gold Glover at first base yet, but being the central offensive force for the only team in the majors to win 100 games earns Phat Albert his first MVP hardware.

AMERICAN LEAGUE: This is also a contest between two players, and neither is named David Ortiz (the front-runner in many circles). I find the thought of giving the game’s highest individual honor to a designated hitter nothing short of repulsive, so Boston’s resident RBI machine is disqualified for those two scarlet letters that follow him as he sits most of every game on the Red Sox bench. (If you give a DH the MVP, might as well give NFL honors to a placekicker.)

It should be remembered that Ortiz is protected in the Boston batting order by Manny Ramirez, and not the other way around. Ramirez (.292, 45, 144) is like Pujols in that he’s already among the greatest players in the game’s history without an MVP trophy on his shelf. And this just might be the reigning World Series MVP’s year, were it not for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod won yet another home run title (48) while hitting .321, with 130 RBIs, 124 runs, and even 21 stolen bases. All the while -- pay attention, Mr. Ortiz -- donning a glove at the hot corner for the Bronx Bombers. Rodriguez edges Ramirez for my vote.

With his dismissal from the University of Memphis basketball team last week, Jeremy Hunt did the Tiger program and coach John Calipari a sad favor. Recovering from a knee injury and having made news most recently for some fisticuffs on Beale Street, Hunt would have been a walking distraction from the opening tip this season. The senior swingman is in disfavor among a majority of season-ticket holders, continues to face legal hurdles over his domestic assault arrest last winter, and plays a position that would have been crowded by his presence. With Darius Washington locked in at the point, incoming freshmen Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts will be fighting for play at the shooting guard spot (and as Washington’s backup). As impressionable as freshmen can be, the last model these two needed was the mercurial Hunt. The 2005-06 team will be led by Washington and Rodney Carney. With Hunt out of the picture, the rest of the team is better prepared to follow in their supporting roles.

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