Realistically speaking, Dontrelle Willis isn't likely to win the Cy Young Award this year. If you jump in a time machine and think back to the start of the year, when Dontrelle was placed fourth in the rotation (although realistically he was the number three guy behind Beckett and Burnett), that's not such a stretch.
But Dontrelle has had a great season. His numbers (on the mound, at the plate, and in the field) are the best of his career. He won't win the Cy Young Award though because Chris Carpenter is having an equally good year for a team (the Cardinals) that sewed up a playoff berth in early June (maybe it just seems that way).
Dontrelle has not only been great this year, he's also had a pretty good start to his career. We're often quick to talk about Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Jake Peavy, and Roy Oswalt. But it's Willis who has the second most wins all-time before his 24th birthday (Greg Maddux, yeah - him, is number one). Willis may not have the "stuff" of any of those other guys. But Willis does have "it". "It" (in my book at least) is what we'd all like to have if we played in the majors. Dontrelle has fun and Dontrelle plays the game in a way that we all wish we could.
What's overlooked most of all about Dontrelle is what he contributes away from the field. That's about to change though as Dontrelle has been nominated by the Marlins as their representative for the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award.
While the Clemente Award doesn't receive the year round hype that the MVP and Cy Young Awards do, the Clemente Award is more meaningful. MVPs and Cy Youngs affect pennant races; the Clemente Award (its winners at least) affect lives.
Most Clemente Award winners and nominees (each team nominates someone) are typically older and traditionally the winners are known for their significant financial contributions. Recent winners of the award have been Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer, Jim Thome, Curt Schilling, Al Leiter, and Tony Gwynn. There's not a lot of (in baseball years) youth on that list. And that's what makes Dontrelle's nomination somewhat more unique.
Willis doesn't have the "resources" (as he tells it) to donate millions of dollars to the causes that he champions. One day he will. For now, he has time and himself. And he gives a lot of that.
I can't do this story any justice, but you can read up on it via the links provided. If you've spent any time at Dolphins Stadium this season, you've likely seen video evidence of Dontrelle's giving (shown on the video boards before many games). I just thought I'd share some of this. Whether the Fish are still in the race or not, there are still plenty of reasons to cheer for this team. Dontrelle is just one of them.