In the wee morning hours of 3 November 2016, the Chicago Cubs did it. After a century plus of lovably losing, the most rabidly “happy to be hear” fanbase in all of baseball finally got to fly the last W of a baseball season. Facebook posts of grandparents crying, fans roaming Addison in mindless glee, and young Cubs fans entering a world where “Billy Goat, Bartman, black cats” mean absolutely nothing. The long Northside Nightmare was over. But for every broken curse, another lives on. Sports is a dichotomous exercise and for every W there is an L. Sadly, the fans of the Cleveland Indians experienced something last night that they’ve become accustomed too over multiple generations: the despair of sports suffering.
One hundred years ago, the Chicago Cubs played their first game in Wrigley Field, beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 on April 20, 1916. A century of baseball later and there is yet to be a newly minted World Series pennant flying over the bleachers on the North Side. Other baseball goings-ons in 1916 included:
Oh what a Dodgers fan would give to have the success of the Brooklyn Robins. In 2016, MLB seems to be in the midst of a multi-year transition from the stars of the post PED era, the likes of Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, Miguel Cabrera, CC Sabathia, and Justin Verlander, into an era of the $400m young super-star. In the 2015 All-Star game, only 10 out of 79 players on both rosters had appeared in more than 5 All-Star games. Compare that to 41 of the players that considered it their first or second appearance at the Mid-Season Classic. The league belongs to Trout, Harper, Giancarlo now. Even guys like Buster Posey and Joey-Bats seem like again stars even though they’ve only been in our baseball consciousness for about 5 years. So we’re in a bit of transition, both on the field and off as the game continues to defy logic with dueling media narratives about the slow death of the sport versus the astronomical piggy bank that is MLB. After the exciting playoff run of 2015, the confluence of young talent and teams flush with cash with the outside chance to make even the Wild Card playoff, personally I think baseball is here to stay.
To the predictions!
REGULAR SEASON PREDICTIONS
1. New York Yankees – y
2. Toronto Blue Jays – x
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Tampa Bay Rays
An incredible election year is upon us, but in the midst of walls, momentum, Drumpfs, and hand size (and sometimes policy proposals), it’s always good to remember the fun part about being President before the country comes to a close in 2017 after Don gets into the White House.
Courtesy of the Old Time Fan, a good old Presidential flavored baseball quiz!
Beginning in 1910, President Taft set a precedent (well almost one) of the President throwing out the first pitch on opening day (though not the first game of the year). Until 1973, it was always in whatever stadium the Washington played its home games. Except for the World War II years, it was held continuously until 1957 (Eisenhower). Since then it has become sporadic, but has been done more often than not, the current occupant excepted. President Obama has appeared just once (2011) in seven years. While Taft began this tradition, he is not part of the quiz that follows; you’ll see why.
What we have is a matching quiz of Presidents and baseball players’ names (see why no Taft—there has never been a MLB player with that name, either first or last).
Each question will first note a Presidents name and then clues to match an MLB player. The order of Presidents is random. There are no “doubles”-only one Adams, Harrison and Johnson and each President is used just once. There are 30 in all; Taft wasn’t the only name that never made it to “The Show.”
So, name the President and the first and last name of the player. Not all are active.
On 6 January 2016, Mike Piazza, former Major League catcher, 1st baseman, designated hitter, offensive extraordinaire, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 83% of the vote. And suddenly a thousand childhood memories came rushing back as Piazza’s name filled the baseball headlines for the week. When fathers take their sons to Cooperstown in 50 years, Mike Piazza’s plaque will don the NY of the Mets franchise, the team he spent 8 years, helping them get to the 2000 World Series against the New York Yankees. Mets Piazza was a guy that played All-Star caliber baseball. But pre-Mets Piazza was a hero.
Growing up in Los Angeles during the mid-1990s, the sports scene was flat. Despite it being a stereotype, LA is a town of stars and superstars are put on pedestals that make Braavos look like a Mattel doll. By 1995, the Lakers were in transition between the Magic and Shaq/Kobe eras, Gretzky was starting to get old on the Kings and would be traded a year later to St. Louis, and football began its 20 year (and counting) exodus from the City of Angels. Thankfully, this star-less situation created enough extra spotlight for the Boys in Blue to shine a little brighter in the California summer sun.
As a kid that fell in love with baseball, being enamored with these mid 90s Dodgers required little effort. Remember, this is a team that fielded 5 straight Rookie of the Year winners. With Vin Scully pouring liquid broadcast gold into our radios everyday (Before the billion dollar local TV sports era we live in now where I can watch MLB.TV in the bathroom at work. Not that I do.), Dodgers fans fell in love with a team bursting with talent.
On October 15, Mets closer Jeurys Familia shut down the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers season with a bevy of hard sliders and 98+ mph fastballs. For a series marked by illegal slides, dominant pitching performances from the likes of DeGrom and Kershaw, and the final nails in the coffins for Yoenis Cespedes MVP campaign (.250 AVG/.800 OPS, albeit 2 HRs) and Jimmy Rollins career as a starter, the Mets will go on to compete with the Chicago Cubs for the honor of representing the Senior Circuit in the 2015 World Series.
As the media usually does, the off the field story lines come to the forefront when playoff teams are eliminated: What went wrong? Is next year a re-compete or a rebuild? Time to be a buyer or seller during Hot Stove season? With the Dodgers, the spotlight, as it has the past several seasons, tends to shine on the “Luxury Tax Be Damned!” team payroll which at season’s end will hover around the $300 million range. Actually, $314,168,414.00 to be exact (thank you Spotrac). Yes, this figure represents the highest season team payroll in MLB history (breaking previous record holders, the Los Angeles Dodgers…) and yes, it is almost $100m more than the 2nd highest payroll of the New York Yankees, and even more than the COMBINED salaries of the 4 lowest payrolls. We here at The 500 know all about what sacrifices the Dodgers have made to earn this Pyrrhic title. And yes, the media, in LA, New York, and everything in between, have harped on the “Money Can’t Buy You Happiness” moniker, to the chagrin of Molly Knight.
But here’s the thing, that $800m plus the Guggenheim and Friends have thrown at player salaries since they finalized their purchase from the Evil Owner Who Shall Not Be Named in May 2012 has bought something for Dodgers fans everywhere: winning. Continue reading
Fantasy baseball is a tricky thing.
On one hand, human civilization has progressed from rubbing sticks together for fire to the atom bomb and putting a man on the moon. On the other hand, humanity has not found a way to make sure I start my probables on a week to week basis. We’ve come so far, but have so far to go.
After finished a tight second place last year, only to have Cy Young/MVP/Guaranteed HOFer/Future Nobel Peace Prize Winner Clayton Kershaw edge out the pitching category for the opposing Roto-er during the Championship Week, 2015 looked to be a tipping point year. To note, this is a very casual league set up by someone who is unlikely to even sign into ESPN.com after the auction every year. Think of it as the Donald Trump of Roto League Commissioners, willing to splurge time and effort on building something, only to let it fester away like a seaside Jersey casino. This year ended with a 5th place standing in a league that has 4 playoff spots. Aka, I am this year’s 2015 loser of the TCU/Baylor game. So where did things go wrong? Probably in Jeff Samardzija’s head. Or probably in the inability to control myself on the waiver wire/free agents pool. But really, as with all things, let’s go back to the beginning. Time for an auction recap 5 months too late.
The auction strategies, as always: