On paper, this is what the 2016 New York Mets look like. They’re just numbers, sure, but in the era of sabermetrics, these are some damn good numbers. These numbers represent the skills and know-how that, we hope, will bring us glory this fall. These are the players who carry the promise of greatness, the clubhouse that could win it all. All of our hopes and dreams, summed up in two innocuous spreadsheets – fourteen players, nine positions, 140 statistics.
Do you feel the tables mocking you? Those perfectly ordered, neatly typed grids? Those consistently high batting averages and promising ERAs?
Do you have nightmares about Daniel Murphy in a Nats jersey? Is Chase Utley’s arrogant smirk burned into your retinas? Do you shudder when you think about having to watch Royals players receive their rings – while our team stands just yards away?
If the Major League Baseball All-Star Game had a place in American History curricula, 11-year-old me would be a figure taught alongside Boss Tweed. The democratic nature of electing the Midsummer Classic’s starting lineups was intoxicating to the dorky kid who watched coverage of the 2000 Florida recount every day after school. I was a conniving little bastard and when it came to finding ways to stuff the ballot box, I took my lessons less from old Joe and Jane Stadium Usher, who’d hand out ballots at the ballpark than I did from Chicago’s Daley clan.
No strategy was beneath me. Paying friends a few quarters to punch out the bags of ballots I’d bring home from a trip to Candlestick? Check. Fabricating email addresses to run up totals in the early days of online balloting? Yep. I was a foolhardy kid who thought that my dirty tactics made a difference in who’d trot out to represent their league each summer, and I took that shit seriously. It probably would’ve been good practice for a career in politics.
Over the years, the dynamics of voting in players for the ASG have changed. Over the years, online ballots have eclipsed voting at the ballpark as the preferred way to select the game’s starters. Teams now solicit fans to pull out their smartphones, click an app a few times, and presto, send the hometown nine’s best to the game. The speed of voting online has made it more effective than even the most mischievous fan could manage via the old-fashioned, Bush v. Gore-inducing, punch card manner.
Let’s give the Boston Red Sox a round of applause for the team’s collective acting performance following Michael Pineda’s first pine tar incident. Give them all Oscars, Emmys or those little participation trophies your cousin gets for being in the school play. The entire team pretended like it was no big deal and goaded Pineda into pulling the same stunt again, making certain the second time that the New York pitcher was promptly removed from the game. Genius. Evil, but genius.
That was my assessment of the situation, as I watched the home plate umpire wipe pine tar from Pineda’s neck like a mother trying to clean a newborn child that has yet to master the art of inserting a spoon into its mouth. I’m a devout Yankees fan, but game had to recognize game, and Boston seemed to have turned its mind game up a notch when they convinced Pineda it was safe to lather his pitches with pine and let ‘em rip. But that’s not how the larger baseball community saw it.
Author’s note: This post includes a graphic video of a Caesarean section. It’s for context, so I’m not sorry. But, anyway, reader discretion advised.
Just when you thought it was okay to enjoy sports debate again, (Hahaha, there’s never a time when you can enjoy sports debate—I just wanted to see how silly that looked in print) David Murphy decided to be a good husband and father*. Let’s give this story the proper background: Murphy plays for the New York Mets. Murphy left the team Monday to be with his wife, who gave birth to their first child (a boy, because I know you wanted to know that). Now, the collective bargaining agreement between the MLBPA and the MLB owners allows players to take 1-3 days of paternity leave for situations just like this. (Let’s keep that factoid in mind). Now, Murphy re-joined the team Thursday (and went 1-3, getting on base twice and scoring a run). So, it’s time to put a bow on this story, right?
If you read TwH, you’re probably familiar with Boomer Esiason. He’s got a radio show on CBS that is (for some reason) aired nationally. When they got on the subject of Murphy, Boomer went on to spew many senseless things (which is sports talk on the radio in a nutshell, obviously). His highlight signature line came when he mentioned that he would tell his wife to have a C-section so that it won’t interfere with, um, stuff. Yes, these were things that were said:
It’s seriously 10:30 am on Opening Day. Can I get this post done before the first pitch happens in 2.5 hours?
If my math is right, this is the 145th season of Major League Baseball. It’s literally the only thing older than my father in law. You’d think that a league that’s been around for so long would be able to get the season opener right, but today is simply Opening Day. Last weekend, the Opening Series was in Australia (that’s not a misprint). Last night was Opening Night in San Diego (which involved a team that was in the Opening Series). Today is Opening Day. Have I lost anyone yet?
Anyway, baseball is soldiering along, senseless starts be darned. Because there’s really nothing that could keep me from watching, I came up with some storylines worth keeping tabs on from now through October. That’s right, baseball is gonna be around for a while. I’m not sorry if that’s not your thing.
A lot of people have already said a lot of things regarding the meaning of this strange, scrappy, magical, bearded band of men we call the 2013 Boston Red Sox. After two years that included fried chicken, beers, and the worst season in recent memory, these guys took advantage of the period between the heartbreaking end of the Bruins Cup run and the beginning of Patriots season to bring Boston back to its roots: baseball.
It was awesome to have a baseball team that was not only winning, but also likeable, on the diamond at Fenway again. But if you say you picked the Sox to win the Series this season, you are (probably, most likely) lying. That’s what made October so fun: it was totally unexpected.
Every championship win is special (something that can be kind of hard to remember when your teams have won eight in twelve years), but at the risk of being cliché and repeating something you’ve heard over and over again: this one was more.
The Marathon Bombings shook everyone in the Greater Boston area to their cores. As someone who grew up a mere fifteen minutes from the race’s starting line, who has friends and family who volunteer along the route and at the finish line, never in my wildest nightmares could I have imagined a tragedy like this happening on Patriot’s Day. But—as tends to happen in these situations, far too many of which we’ve seen the past few years—the good in humanity outshone the bad. Not only did Bostonians and marathon runners band together to help one another, so did people from across the country and the world.
Since Alfonso Soriano’s strike out to end the Cubs playoff run in 2008, there haven’t been many happy day for Chicago fans. Since then, the Cubs have not been back to the playoffs and have continued a steady decline, losing 101 games last season. Still, there have been some silver linings along the way, including the growth of Starlin Castro and the debut of Anthony Rizzo. But today might be the best day the Cubs have in the past five seasons. Today, July 2, 2013, will always be remembered as the day the Carlos Marmol Era ended.