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October 24, 2013

EXTRA INNINGS: Save these important dates for baseball news

OPINION — CIRCLE THESE upcoming dates (and some past) for Major League Baseball news.

Monday: The Pirates’ Francisco Liriano and Yankees’ retiring reliever Mariano Rivera were named Sporting News’ Comeback Players of the Year. As this column predicted last week, Liriano was a no-brainer.

The Pirates’ staff ace went 16-8, including an 8-1 mark and 1.47 ERA at PNC Park in 2013. He was 8-2 with a 1.26 ERA following a Pirate loss. He posted a career high in wins and his lowest ERA (3.02) since his 2006 rookie season.

Liriano’s teammates were second (Mark Melancon) and third (Marlon Byrd). Voting was by 186 major leaguers.

Rivera missed most of last season, then racked up a 6-2 record with 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA during his farewell tour this time around.

Also Monday: Miami’s Joe Fernandez and Tampa’s Wil Myers were selected as each league’s Rookie of the Year.

Yesterday: Although not announced until after press deadline, not even commissioner Bud Selig could screw up this year’s National League Manager of the Year award. The Bucs’ Clint Hurdle inherited a team that had won 57 games in 2010. In Hurdle’s first year, his 2011 Pirates won 72 games, followed by 79 last year. Picked for last or next-to-last this year, Hurdle told the world in March that his team would win 95 games, then watched his Bucs rumble to 94 wins and the top wild card spot, losing the deciding game in the NLDS to the Cardinals, whose 97 wins topped the league and matched the 97 victories by the Red Sox, whose first-year manager John Farrell should have won the AL award.

Today: The St. Louis Cardinals appear in their fourth World Series in the past 10 seasons. Because the American League won a meaningless game last July, aka the All-Star Game, the Boston Red Sox get to host the first two games and, if necessary, the final two games. The Cardinals get the middle three games, if three are needed to determine this year’s winner.

Because the Cardinals have better pitching than the Sox, this year’s winner is St. Louis in six games.

Also Today: Look for McCutchen and third baseman Pedro Alvarez to be named to this year’s Sporting News All-Star team.

Thursday: The Sporting News names baseball’s Player of the Year. Look for Cabrera to be selected.

During the Series:  For the fourth consecutive year, a panel of Hall of Famers players led by Henry Aaron and fans voted for an award named after Aaron to select the outstanding player in each league. Established in 1999, this year’s winners should be St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. The awards are presented sometime during the Series.

Oct. 25: The finalists for the Gold Glove awards are announced.

Oct. 29: Andrew McCutchen wins his second consecutive award, announced today at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

Nov. 4:  Today at 8 p.m. on MLB Network, the Major League Baseball Players Association announces its Players Choice Award winners as voted on by the players themselves. Pirates are on the ballots for outstanding player (McCutchen), outstanding pitcher (Liriano), and comeback player (Byrd, Liriano).

Nov. 5:  The Baseball Writers Association of America announce the finalists for Cy Young, rookie of the year, most valuable player, and manager of the year in each league, with winners named next week.

Nov. 6: The Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards are announced today, honoring the top offensive producers at each fielding position in both leagues. Voting is done by managers and coaches, who cannot vote for players on their own team.

Nov. 11: Another surprise—Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington will be named Sporting News Executive of the Year. The GM will be recognized for getting pitchers A.J. Burnett, Jason Grilli, and Wandy Rodriguez last year and adding catcher Russell Martin, pitcher Liriano, reliever Melancon, and late-season additions outfielder Byrd and first baseman Justin Morneau.

March 31: The Pirates host the Chicago Cubs in 2014’s season opener.

Jim Sankey is baseball columnist for the Allied News.

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