Look out, Yaz. Here comes Miggy

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Look out, Yaz. Here comes Miggy

Hey, did you know theyre still playing baseball?

Yup. True story. And last night in Detroit, Miguel Cabrera went 1-3 with a home run and an RBI in a 6-2 win over the As.

The victory was essential for the Tigers in that combined with the White Sox loss to the (cough) Royals it brought them within two games of first place in the AL Central and within five games of Oakland for the second wild card spot.

It was essential for Cabrera in that with two weeks left on the season hes on the brink of achieving something legendary. A feat that the baseball world hasnt seen in 45 years.

When it comes to stats, sports fans are unbelievable hypocrites. Were like a nutritionist who stops at McDonalds on the way home from work. Were like a cop who spends his days lecturing children on the dangers of drug use, and his nights bumping lines off the bathroom sink. Were like . . . you get it.

As fans, we dont like our athletes to care about stats. Those who do are selfish and misguided. Yet at the same time, we cant get enough. Were obsessed. Well go as far as to take the very stats that we want our athletes to ignore, and use them to make their lives a living hell.

If they dont have great numbers, they suck. If they care too much about having great numbers, they suck. And I dont know, maybe that just comes with the territory, but the truth is that everyone loves stats. Fans, players, coaches, owners regardless of what anyone wants and what anyone else says everyone cares. Stats are great. Stats are fun. There an enormous part of what draws us to sport in the first place.

Which is why its so exciting to see whats going on with Miguel Cabrera.

If you havent been following, as of this morning, the Tigers third baseman leads the American League with a .333 batting average (six points better than Mike Trout). He leads the American League with 130 RBI (seven more than Josh Hamilton). And thanks to last nights blast off the As Jim Miller, Cabreras now second in the American League with 41 homers one behind Hamilton. When you consider that Hamiltons been mediocre at best since June, and that Cabreras been hotter than Hansel from start through September, its reasonable to assume that, sometime over the next two weeks, Cabrera will take over the home run race and find himself in line to claim a ridiculous piece of history.

The Triple Crown.

Over the last 45 years, a handful of players have come close to reaching the most regal of baseballs statistical holy grails.

In 1969, Willie McCovey led the NL in homers and RBI, but finished 24 points behind Pete Rose for the batting title. (I bet Rose took some pleasure in that. Seriously, Ill bet you 100.)

In 1972, the White Sox Dick Allen led the AL in homers and RBI, but finished second in average 10 points behind Hall of Famer Rod Carew. (He converted)

In 1977, the Reds George Foster had the kind of numbers typically reserved for the American Dreams, leading the NL with 53 homers and 149 RBI. He also hit for an impressive .320 average, but the Pirates Dave Parker took the crown at .338.

The next year, Jim Rice led the AL with 46 homers and 139 RBI, but his .320 average fell 18 points short of Carew. (Fun Fact: Today, you can catch Rice as a crack postgame analyst on NESN).

In 1992, 23-year-old Gary Sheffield led the NL in average, but finished two home runs and nine RBI short of the Triple Crown. In 1997, Larry Walker was absolutely ridiculous, hitting .366 with 49 homers and 130 RBI. Just as ridiculous? The Canadian Dandy finished second in average (Tony Gwynn hit .372) and RBI (The Big Cat drove in 140).

More recently, Barry Bonds, at the spry age of 37, came close in 2002, leading the NL in average, but coming up just short in homers and RBI. (A hearty, belated thanks to Sammy Sosa and Lance Berkman, respectively). And finally, Albert Pujols had two close calls in 2003 and 2010, but couldnt close the deal.

And thats pretty much it 45 years and only nine legitimate runs at the Crown. But here in 2012, Cabreras not only within striking distance but he's just about knocking down the door, and his run at history will be one of the most riveting story lines of the last two weeks especially for fans of teams that have long been eliminated from contention.

I mean, the Triple Crown? Thats unbelievable! Who would have thought? Who wouldn't want to see this happen? Who doesn't want to witness history? Who can possibly ignore the excitement of watching this level of nearly unprecedented greatness?

No one. But here in Boston, the excitements at least a little bitter sweet.

If you grew up around these parts, regardless of the era, you grew up learning about Carl Yastrzemski. One of the greatest Red Sox of all time. One of the greatest baseball players of all time. A first ballot Hall of Famer who played 22 years at Fenway Park, was an 18-time All Star, a seven-time Gold Glove-winner, the 1967 AL MVP, the captain of the Impossible Dream and for the last 45 years, the answer to the trivia question: Who is the last Major Leaguer to hit for the Triple Crown?

Even if you never saw Yaz play, and I didn't, there was, and is, something undeniably cool about a Red Sox player owning what has become an almost mythical baseball record. I won't put it on par with Oscar Robertson averaging a triple-double, because he's the only one to ever do it and nobody else has come close, but there are similarities between the Big O's year-long triple double and Yaz's 1967 Triple Crown. Over time, they've each become a benchmark season within their respective sports; the definition of greatness times versatility. And like I said, for a member of the Sox to fill that void in baseball history is pretty awesome. It's no doubt added to Yastrzemski's legend, in Boston and beyond.

But now, there's a very good chance that those days are over. And as fun as it will be to watch Cabrera fight for the crown, it's unfortunate that he might do it at the expense of one of this city's all-time greats.

But at the same time: What are you going do?

It's not like Yaz's Triple Crown won't count anymore. It's not like they'll take his number down in right field or his feed his Hall of Fame plaque to Prince Fielder.

Whether we witness history in Detroit over these next two weeks, or watch another great season fall short, Yaz is still Yaz. The legacy's not going anywhere. The greatness will never be forgotten.

So with that: Let's go, Miggy. Make it happen.

And thanks for reminding everyone here in Boston that there's still such thing as fun and meaningful September baseball.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley ran for two TDs and caught another to help the Los Angeles Rams put up another big offensive performance with a 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

The NFL's lowest-scoring team last year looks like a completely different outfit this season under first-year coach Sean McVay thanks to vastly improved play by Goff after a rough rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick.

The Rams (2-1) have also been helped by the additions of receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and the play-calling of McVay as they have scored 107 points through three games. That's the second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

All three of Goff's touchdown passes came on third down, including a 13-yard pass to Watkins early in the fourth quarter that gave Los Angeles a 41-26 lead.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.

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More AP NFL: pro32.ap.org and twitter.com/AP-NFL

Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.