Day: April 6, 2015

Baseball Links

As promised, a whole mess of baseball links in honor of Opening Day.

Let’s go to the oldest piece first. The Deadspin Stacks reprinted Robert Ward’s legendary article about Reggie Jackson published in Sport[1] magazine in 1977. It, in many ways, defined how Reggie was perceived for the rest of his career. Not unfairly, I should add. Be sure to read the epilogue Ward added for the reprint.

The Day A Shit-Talking Reggie Jackson Tore Apart The Yankees

Daniel Norris could not be more different than Reggie Jackson. Forget about Reggie, he’s in dramatic opposition to the bulk of young guys who have big fat contracts and limitless futures. The Blue Jays rookie spent spring training living in an old Volkswagen camper he parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot. And that’s just the beginning of his unorthodox way of living life.

The Man In The Van

Joe Posnanski with a pretty great profile of Bobby Bragan, a man who moved past history and prejudice to embrace Jackie Robinson when he broke the color line.

A Baseball Story

C. is playing softball this year. A few weeks back we bought her a bat, tee, and glove. Since my glove disappeared sometime in the past 20 years, I also bought the third baseball glove of my life. I just got a cheap, discontinued Rawlings model on Amazon. I figured I’m just going to be playing catch with the girls, or fielding their hits, so there was no need to spend a ton of money.

This article appeared at the perfect time, as I’ve been going through all the rituals of breaking my mitt in. Like so much about baseball, the simple act of making leather supple can take on spiritual elements.

To Break In Their Gloves, Yankees Dunk, Tenderize and Lather Up

Speaking of baseball ritual, here is yet another nice accounting of how baseball helped bridge the gap between father and son.

Saying ‘I Love You’ With Baseball

Ten baseball books every fan should read. Sadly I’ve read seven, which means there isn’t much new here for me.

An interesting history of how baseball caps became the most common headwear for men off the diamond.

The Common Man’s Crown

Finally, Will Leitch’s 125 predictions for the season.

  1. I loved Sport magazine. And Inside Sports. I often wasted a library pick on the current issue of one or the other back in 4th and 5th grades. Even though I usually had them read, front-to-back, before the school day was over.  ↩

Opening Day!

Today, we wake up. Baseball begins again in Kansas City, which means we stop dreaming about the unbelievable run of last October, wondering if Alex Gordon could have scored or waking from nightmares about Madison Bumgarner.

Now, all of that is truly part of the past. We have new games to watch!

Which is kind of a shame. Because I just don’t think last year was the beginning of some great run for the Royals.

Maybe Eric Hosmer is ready to play MVP-caliber ball for six months.
Maybe Mike Moustakas figured something out last fall and can finally turn into a guy who can hit 25–30 home runs a year and get on base about 30 percent of the time.
Perhaps last year was not an aberration at the plate for both Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar and they can both repeat their ’14 numbers. Maybe Yordano Ventura is ready to be a big league #1 for 200+ innings.
Maybe Danny Duffy is ready to be a big league #2 for 200+ innings.
Maybe Edinson Volquez, Jason Vargas, and Jeremy Guthrie can continue to fool batters.
Maybe Herrera-Davis-Holland will repeat as the most deadly bullpen trio in MLB history. Maybe Salvador Perez can stay healthy.
Maybe every string that Ned Yost pulls will continue to be the right string. Or when he pulls the wrong string, it somehow works out like it did in October.

Here’s the problem, though. It will take all of that to happen, and probably more, to compete in what should be a much tougher AL Central this year, or fight what should be a deeper pool of teams for a Wild Card slot this year. I can see two, three, maybe four of those things happening. But not all of them.

Still, I’m picking with my heart rather than my brain. I say the Royals win 83, 84 games and finish just on the fringe of both the division and Wild Card races.

My brain says a third-straight season with 81+ wins is going to be tough, though.

But it’s Opening Day! The grass is greening up. There will be baseball on the TV, radio, and our i-devices for the next seven months. And the Royals, for today at least, are no longer a laughingstock and we can dream that all the magic of last October will continue into this season.

Worth noting, I’ll be celebrating Opening Day by covering a high school softball game the begins at roughly the same time the Royals game starts. Would it be wrong for me to show up about three hours early with a grill and a cooler and look for someone to play catch with?

The two leagues have very different feels. In the American League, there does not seem to be a dominant team, and in each division there are at least two completely reasonable choices for a champ. Then, when the playoffs roll around, there will be a bunch of evenly matched, but flawed teams, battling for the pennant.

In the National League, however, there seem to be clear leaders in each division, with two of those poised to put up monster years if they can stay healthy.

So, here come the patented, half-assed, likely totally wrong predictions.

AL East: Red Sox

Every preview I read throws out the theory that the Red Sox roster will look very different in August. Cole Hamels, come on down? I suppose I’ll but into that idea as well. Toronto will hold the lead at the All-Star Break, but the Sox get hot late to nudge out the Blue Jays.

AL Central: White Sox

I could talk myself into any of three teams here. The White Sox seem too young, and too recently put together. But I love most of the moves they made in the off season. I think the Indians have a real shot to win, but I also think they have the least room for error, and will likely slip up or suffer a major injury or two that wrecks their chances. The Tigers will look great on the nights when everything clicks, but are too old and fragile to continue their dominance of the division.

AL West: Athletics

Say what you want about Billy Beane, but he always keeps it interesting. He made some huge moves last year to build a team that would finally win him a pennant, only to cough up a huge division lead and then blow two late leads in the Wild Card game. So he completely blew the team up again. And, somehow, they’re going to be really, really good again.

Wildcards: Blue Jays, Mariners

Not sure I buy all the Mariners hype, and it was hard for me to pick them over Cleveland. But I bet they stay healthier than the Indians. And they have the luxury of playing the Rangers and Astros often.


Mariners over Blue Jays. King Felix is dominant.
Mariners over Athletics. Starting pitching is the difference. And Billy Beane’s shit still doesn’t work in the playoffs.
Red Sox over White Sox. One last hurrah for Papi and Pedroia.
Red Sox over Mariners. Hamels out-duels Felix in an epic game seven.

NL East: Nationals

Potential juggernaut No. 1.

NL Central: Cardinals

Will survive the toughest division in the majors.

NL West: Dodgers

Potential juggernaut No. 2.

Wildcards: Pirates, Mets


Mets over Pirates. Matt Harvey breaks Pittsburgh’s heart again.
Nationals over Mets. Harvey not enough.
Dodgers over Cardinals. Kershaw’s shit works this year.
Nationals over Dodgers. Bryce Harper in the MVP in an epic series.

World Series: Nationals over Red Sox

The team of the ‘00s falls to the team poised to become the team of the next decade.

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