The Red Sox went to Baltimore on Friday and some stupid stuff happened. Manny Machado made a questionable slide into second base, Dustin Pedroia was injured, people yelled, Twitter raged and hilarious quotes were given. The teams played again Saturday without incident, and most assumed everything had blown over. They assumed wrong.
Great, of course, is subjective. If you’re a Patriots fan (I am not), then far be it for anyone else to tell you Sunday night wasn’t great. Likewise, if you’re a Falcons fan (also, thankfully, not) there are at least six circles of Hell you’d rather visit than relive Sunday’s game. Approaching the game from a reasonably objective standpoint though, was it the greatest Super Bowl of all-time? Was it even close? Shocking? Definitely. Greatest comeback? Ok, sure. Unequivocally great, though?
Bautista was a journeyman throughout his twenties. He never hit more than 16 home runs in a season and never posted a batting average higher than .254 prior to his 29th birthday. In 2004 he was literally a member of five different organizations in a timespan of less than two months. Back in Pittsburgh, he toiled away as a spare part for the next four seasons before being traded to Toronto for a player to be named later. Two years after that, he broke baseball.
Once the new inductees are named and congratulated though, we can turn our attention down the ballot, often where the most interesting bits of information are hidden. How did the rest of the candidates do? Who made a jump, and who fell back? What does it mean for the future? What should it mean for the future? Let’s try to pick out the biggest takeaways from this year’s results.
There are two things truer today than at any other period in history, though. First is that baseball’s aging curve has shifted; the game skews younger than ever. Second, teams are smarter than ever. It seems at least plausible then that teams might become more and more hesitant to wade into the free agent pool if all it has to offer are players on the wrong side of 30.
Bagwell has come to symbolize the absurdity of the PED witch hunt, having his vote total stifled by the same kinds of vague rumors that dogged Mike Piazza for years. There is no leaked 2003 test here, no BALCO investigation, no Mitchell Report…just whispers and rumors and what-ifs. I have no idea whether Jeff Bagwell ever used PEDs, but there needs to be a tougher litmus test than ‘he had muscles and played in the 90s.’
Of all the accolades and accomplishments in Ken Griffey Jr.’s career, the most impressive might be this: In an era that may very well have contained both the best hitter and best pitcher in baseball history, Griffey stands out as the most important player of his generation. For someone who has for years touted Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens as baseball’s highest deities, that’s not light praise.
Stupid predictions for the 2016 Major League Baseball season.
Things felt different when the Yankees geared up for their Wild Card showdown with Houston last October. For the first time, certainly in my lifetime but maybe-also-probably ever, it felt surprising that the Yankees were in the postseason at all. They were the fourth or fifth best team in the division on paper. They were too old, too injury-prone, too damn volatile. The bottom was supposed to have dropped out several times over.