This is an article from the Dec. 5, 2011 issue
The Tigers' ace is the 10th pitcher to win the MVP and Cy Young awards. Verlander is one of two pitchers from that group who had also won Rookie of the Year.
DAN PATRICK:How surprised were you to win the American League MVP award?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I was pretty surprised. I didn't allow myself to think that I would win it. I got the phone call about 15 minutes later than I got the call for the Cy Young, so I had pretty much written it off. Right about that time, the Tigers' p.r. director called me. He just said, "Congratulations, Mr. MVP."
DP:Did you tell your friends not to call you at that time?
JV: No, all my good friends knew. I was here at my house. I just went down into my little area and tried not to think about it.
DP:Do you have a man cave?
JV: Of course I have a man cave.
DP:What do you have in it?
JV: I have a humongous couch with a 12-foot TV projector and a Ping-Pong table. Haven't done the rest of the stuff yet. I guess I'm going to find some space for some hardware.
DP:If you had an MVP vote, who would you have chosen?
JV: Myself. If people say they're not going to vote for themselves, I disagree with that. I think they're crazy; I think they would and just not tell anybody. I supported not only myself but the cause for a pitcher winning MVP all year. Why would I support that, then not vote for exactly what I'm supporting?
DP:Make your case for a pitcher as MVP.
JV: If we have a bad game, we're going to lose 95% of the time. If we have a good game, we're going to win 85% of the time. Position players can have great games or horrible games and not affect nearly as much. The other thing I look at is the way Cy Young voting is going more toward statistical analysis. For instance, last year Felix [Hernandez] won, and [he was] not on a winning team. Clearly he was the best pitcher, but it gets away from the valuable part of the award. Valuable means something good happened—[you are] part of a winning team.
DP:You had a half-million dollar bonus [in your contract] for the Cy Young. No bonus for the MVP?
JV: I think I'll be happy with the Cy Young bonus. I didn't think to write the MVP one in there.
DP:Are you going to treat yourself to something?
JV: I might get a car. The Mercedes SLS ... [with the] doors that go up.
DP:Tough to park that. Have you ever been embarrassed by something you've driven into the team parking lot?
JV: The only time I was embarrassed was as a rookie. I still get a lot of grief to this day about this and rightfully so: My dad got me a [car] in high school with a license plate that said BRNGN IT.
DP:You were Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham?
JV: Yeah, I was Nuke LaLoosh. I came into the clubhouse with that license plate. We had some veterans who just wore me out about it.
DP:How about CYMVP for your next license plate?
JV: I've learned from my mistakes. I'm not going to have a vanity plate—just typical letters and numbers.
There's a debate about what impact David Beckham had on the MLS over the last five years. But Beckham, whose contract with the Galaxy expires at the end of the month, isn't concerned. "Other people can decide the effect of my being here," Beckham told me. "I loved being here."... Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops thinks about 70% of Division I coaches would vote against a final four playoff system to determine the national champ because they appreciate the bowl experience. "I don't see a lot of momentum for it," Stoops said... . I asked BCS executive director Bill Hancock why so many people have an issue with his organization. "I think a lot of them would love to sit at home and fill out a bracket," Hancock said... . One of Ryan Braun's first calls after winning the NL MVP was to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Brewers' outfielder was surprised to find out he had won the award before his good friend did. "For some reason I felt like [Rodgers] won the MVP last year," Braun told me. "He is on his way to winning [it] this year."