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Giving thanks for baseball's great season, great people

Thanks to 74,859,268 fans, the most since the Phillies ended their World Series drought in 2008, and the fifth-best single-season attendance total in Major League Baseball history.

Thanks to Miguel Cabrera for giving us what so many have waited for most or all of our lives. So that's what a Triple Crown feels like. Who can forget the standing ovation he received from division-rival fans in Kansas City on that final day?

Thanks to fans who have come together with MLB, its clubs and its employees to collectively provide relief in many ways after a superstorm ravaged the Northeast a day after the baseball season ended. Bidding is under way through Dec. 1 on special packages offered by clubs, with 100 percent of proceeds going to Sandy Relief.

Thanks for a collective community effort throughout the World Series. It was a short Fall Classic, but the first four games are always dedicated no matter what to specific community themes -- and fans collaborated dramatically with MLB for a tangible impact to support Stand Up To Cancer; Welcome Back Veterans; youth initiatives like Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and Breaking Barriers; and through public service including Habitat for Humanity efforts.

"As a social institution, Major League Baseball embraces its responsibility to give back to communities that support us and to families and individuals, especially those in need," said Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs. "Through the leadership and vision of Commissioner Selig, and thanks to the cooperation and dedication of our clubs, players, partners and fans, Baseball is proud to continue to make a positive and significant difference in the lives of others. As an organization and as an industry, we remain committed to offering our assistance and support."

On this Thanksgiving Day, there is one word that matters most in baseball.

Thanks to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and his wife Tess, who were host to a Thanksgiving dinner last Thursday for the families of Family Gateway, whose facilities, programs and community partnerships are designed to serve the needs of families coping with homelessness in Dallas. In addition to hosting that dinner for about 100 people, the Kinslers distributed winter scarves, gloves and hats to more than 60 youngsters. The Kinslers also purchased birthday gifts for the children celebrating November birthdays, as the event was held in conjunction with the Birthday Party Project, which celebrates the lives of homeless children by partnering with shelters.

Thanks to Indians president Mark Shapiro, general manager Chris Antonetti and additional front office staff for serving Thanksgiving dinner last Sunday to 300 individuals and families in the Cleveland community. The Indians partnered at the Terrace Club of Progressive Field with Delaware North Companies and four area non-profit service organizations: Guidestone, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, Our Lady of the Wayside, and Shoes and Clothes for Kids.

Thanks for the help that continues generously by people of all walks in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Here are examples:

• The combined MLB and MLB Players Association donation of $1 million to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Feeding America, and the work of these organizations.

• The 2,000 items of clothing, blankets, food and needed toiletries to both Far Rockaway and New Jersey communities (4,000 total), from MLB employees and clubs and partners, and the MLB volunteers who helped deliver them and clubs that delivered items directly.

• The relief and emergency workers who continue to work tirelessly around the clock to serve and eventually restore the affected communities.

Thanks also to the RBI World Series players, coaches, volunteers and staff, who earlier this year packaged 50,000 nutritious meals for distribution to starving children and families in 60 countries worldwide.

MLB donated $10,000 to the Mozel Sanders Foundation for that organization's annual "Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Dinner West Coast," which on Thursday is scheduled to feed about 5,000 homeless people and families in Compton, Calif. Thanks to young participants of the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton for their help in serving meals at the event, held at Compton Community College. The local dinner is a collaborative effort between the Mozel Sanders Foundation, MLB, the City of Compton, Compton Community College District, clergy, entrepreneurs, businesses, churches and community and political leaders.

"Major League Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities, but perhaps most importantly, we are members of communities that sustain our clubs, facilities and initiatives," said Frank Robinson, MLB executive vice president of baseball development. "The Compton community has been tremendously supportive of our efforts at the MLB Urban Youth Academy to provide local youth with opportunities on and off the field, so we are pleased to give back to those in this area who are in need during this holiday season."

Thanks to the fans of Kansas City, not only for that classy gesture toward Cabrera, but also for their amazing All-Star week -- the first one there in four decades.

Thanks to the Houston Astros for their many years of National League service. It's time for a new American League world in 2013.

At a time of "Jersey Strong," when Thanksgiving auto travelers are seeing U.S. flags on nearly every highway overpass, we are thankful for an unforgettable rookie season by one of that state's own. Mike Trout of the Angels had simply the most magnificent first year in baseball history, and we can't wait to see what becomes of his career.

Thanks to Jerry Reinsdorf, Christine O'Reilly, Chicago fans and everyone responsible for the White Sox Volunteer Corps. It continues to set the standard and is a great example of how clubs work hand-in-hand with their communities.

Thanks to people like Justin Verlander and his friend Shayna "Verlander" Hersh. They gave us one of the best moments of 2012, and they were reunited in Detroit during the World Series. It doesn't take much to help someone's life for the better.

Thanks to those who built and supported construction of nine Habitat for Humanity houses, destined for tornado-stricken communities in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Thanks to everyone involved with last week's official re-opening of the MLB Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Barrow Stadium in New Orleans' Pontchartrain Park, following a $6.5 million renovation project by MLB and the city after the original, 55-year-old stadium was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The academy will provide free, year-round baseball and softball instruction and other educational services for youth from under served and urban communities throughout southern Louisiana.

"Major League Baseball is proud to stand alongside the City of New Orleans as we open the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy, which will represent the national pastime's lasting contribution to the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Our newest Academy, located in one of our nation's most vibrant cities, will impact many young lives by providing significant opportunities on and off the diamond."

Thanks to the wider distribution of competition and crowds this past season. With a Wild Card game added to each league, we saw increased fervor as summer roared into fall. For example, the Reds drew their best attendance since the debut season of Great American Ball Park in 2003, and the Pirates topped the 2 million milestone for the first time since the opening season of PNC Park in 2001.

Thanks to Buster Posey for his lesson in persistence, and thanks to the Giants for showing us again that no matter what people expect in baseball, something surprising is the norm.

Thanks to fans of clubs that were not in contention -- yet hung in there through thick and thin.

Thanks to the year-round efforts by players everywhere, some well-documented and some very much under the radar. Want to know how you can help be more involved in your community? Just consider these words by Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson during an Action Team conference call as part of MLB Players Association community outreach:

"The more specific you can make your goals in life, then the easier it is to achieve them. Being focused allows you to manage your time better. I think a lot of people waste time with things that are not important. If you come up with three or four things, or five things that are part of your routine and are the most important things to you, then that allows everything else to kind of trickle down into little buckets of time. That's where you can find time to put into your side projects.

"Some things just aren't important. If you really like one or two TV shows, that's cool. But there probably aren't eight or 10 TV shows that you really need to watch. Your DVR can take care of that for you. ... Delegate, focus, make goals and DVR. Those are the rules.

"You really need to work on building a foundation and getting along with other people and getting along with people from different backgrounds, or different ages, or different ethnicity. It really helps, and if you can find that common ground, then there is no limit to what you and your team can accomplish."

Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Buster Posey, Justin Verlander