The Seattle Seahawks punched their ticket to the Super Bowl tonight thanks in part to some great defense by cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman broke up a pass from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, then had one of the most interesting post-game interviews you’ll ever find.
Shouting at the top of his lungs, ostensibly because the stadium was so loud, Sherman said to reporter Erin Andrews, “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like [Michael] Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me!” Andrews followed up, asking Sherman who was talking about him. Sherman replied, “Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best.”
The interview garnered some mixed reactions, including some from baseball’s premier players. Injured Mets ace Matt Harvey tweeted that the interview convinced him to root for the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Tigers ace Justin Verlander was a bit more direct with his feelings:
Threatening to risk an opponent’s health and career with a “high and tight fastball” is far worse than being cocky in an interview.
Verlander has cooled down on throwing at hitters as he has matured. After hitting a league-leading 19 in 2007 and 14 in ’08, Verlander has hit a total of 24 over his last five seasons, including just four in 2013.
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: