In the works: a new Bizarre Baseball Culture featuring the Amazing Spider-Man. Look for it by next Tuesday.
You may have seen by now reports by Jeff Passan that the Tampa Bay Rays have received permission to “explore” the possibility of splitting time between the Tampa area and Montreal. The report says that should the plan come to fruition and get the necessary permissions, the team would play some games in Tampa in a new stadium, and some in Montreal in a new stadium.
It’s not gonna happen. There are so many things wrong with this plan that it almost certainly has been made and an agreement to “explore it” has been approved as part of a greater ploy to try and speed up a final resolution on the future of the Rays in Tampa, encourage the future of baseball in Montreal, or both.
I mean, whatever reason could there be for this plan? There are, as I said, so many things wrong this plan:
- It supposes that St. Petersburg would let it happen, which they won’t.
- It supposes that somehow they’ll be able to have two cities build new stadiums for a team they’ll only have half of the season.
- It supposes that this team that is split between two cities in different countries will somehow get any sort of large amount of fan support.
- It supposes that the Player’s Union will agree to have players on the ExRays to have to maintain in-season residences in two different cities in two different countries, staying away from their families and/or moving them mid-season, while dealing with different laws, languages and tax codes. Spoiler alert: They won’t.
- It supposes that TV deals, sponsorship deals, and other business considerations would be able to be worked out.
And the list goes on…
So why are they doing this? Well, it seems simple: this plan is meant to either A) finally get someone in the Tampa area to build a new stadium or B) grease the skids for a move to Montreal.
Will it work? Time will tell.
The following are actual names of prospects who may be drafted in the 2019 MLB draft, which begins Monday. Some of them were chosen because they sound cool, others because they sound funny, others because they just look fun to say.
So without any further ado, the best names in MLB Draft Tracker for 2019:
- Josh Jung
- Brett Baty
- Quinn Priester
- Gunnar Henderson
- Cameron Cannon
- John Rave
- Hudson Head
- Jaxx Groshans
- Matthew Barefoot
- Justin Fall
- Quinn Cotton
- Andy Archer
- Bryce Ball
- Dallas Beaver
- Bear Bellomy
- Cuba Bess
- Hunter Bigge
- Blake Buckle
- Cade Cabbiness
- Jax Cash
- Steele Chambers
- Cutter Clawson
- Jack Dashwood
- Gunner Halter
- Maverick Handley
- Jett Jackson
- Dutch Landis
- Skyler Loverink
- Cole McDonald
- Takoda Metoxen
- Cam Opp
- Al Pesto
- Nico Popa
- Major Posey
- DJ Poteet
- Paxton Rigby
- Kipp Rollings
- Rudy Rott
- Jason Ruffcorn
- Danny Sinatro
- Ryan Sleeper
- Bruce Steel
- Trevor Tinder
- Parker Towns
- Benny Wanger
- Hunter Wolfe
- Zane Zurbrugg
Best of luck to all the awesomely-named prospects during the draft!
Yesterday, the world was shocked as it came out that Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets had broken his ankle in an accident on his ranch. While reportedly this had nothing to do with falling off a horse, and instead may have been something as mundanely odd as just stepping into or falling into a hole awkwardly, I have another theory: He fell off something, but it wasn’t a horse.
So, for the sake of absurdity, here is a list of things that Yoenis Cespedes may have fallen off of:
- Donkey (a member of the horse family, but not technically a horse)
- Zebra (a member of the horse family, but not technically a horse)
- An unusually large dog
- Water buffalo
- Bear (oh my!)
- Galapagos tortoise
- Woolly mammoth
- Large human who was carrying him on their shoulders so he could see from a higher vantage point
Thank you for your time.
In 1949, writer Ogden Nash wrote “Line-Up for Yesterday”, a poem that paid tribute to some of the greatest ballplayers in history up to that point by going through the alphabet. Three letters did not have representation:
- I, which was used as a joking reference to himself writing the poem.
- Z, for zenith, as a way of saying that these players were the top of the game.
- And, of course… X, because there weren’t any ballplayers with a last name starting in X. To make up for it, he just paid tribute to Jimmie Foxx.
Time has gone on, and, well, there still isn’t an MLB ballplayer with an X starting their last name. But, I was wondering- are there any candidates for it? After all, there are a lot of baseball players, and those players come from an increasing number of countries, some of which have different languages where having an X at the start of your name is more common.
So let’s go through the history of X-named ballplayers and see who has come closest so far, and see if there is anyone who may have a shot in the near-future.
The closest so far: Joe Xavier.
The closest baseball has ever come to having a Major Leaguer with an X at the start of their last name came in the late 1980s and the 1990 season, when Joe Xavier reached AAA. An infielder with the Oakland, Milwaukee and Atlanta organizations, Xavier later told “The Greatest 21 Days” blog that he may have had a shot at the big leagues if not for being traded to Milwaukee, which had a glut of infield prospects at that time. Alas, the fact that he never was able to crack the big league roster meant that the X portion of MLB reference material would remain empty.
The most recent one: Gui Yuan Xu.
Technically, Xu is his first name, but under western naming convention his family name of Xu comes last and therefore if he were to make the big league that is where he would be found in the index of baseball history.
Putting aside that, though, Gui Yuan Xu is the most recent minor leaguer who would have broken the “X” barrier if he made the bigs. A rare pro ballplayer signed from mainland China, Gui Yuan played three years in the Orioles organization before being released this past spring.
Anyone coming up in the college ranks?
The outlook for X-named ballplayers right now is not looking good. A look at the Baseball Cube (which is better than even Baseball Reference when it comes to college ballplayers) shows no current or recent prospect-level college ballplayers with names starting with X, at least at the Division I level. While there surely must be some high school players with surnames that begin with X, I am not a big enough expert on the prospects at that level to say if any of them may have a shot of one day breaking the “X” barrier.
Ultimately, the best hope of one day having a ballplayer with a X at the start of their surname may lie in mainland China. While many ballplayers in Taiwan transliterate names with the “shoo” or “choo” sound into English with “Ch” instead of “X”, on the mainland the X seems far more common.
To see how that is, you need only look at the Baseball Reference page for players who have had their surname begin with “Xi”. Most of them are Chinese players who were on the Texas AirHogs of the independent American Association either last year or this year. The AirHogs entered an agreement before the 2018 season to more-or-less give most of their roster over to China’s national team, as China prepares for the return of baseball to the Olympics in 2020 and likely then 2028. Six of those Chinese players on the 2018 AirHogs had names starting with “Xi”, and at least one of them has returned in 2019.
Now, the stats for them don’t exactly impress, with only one of the “Xi” (reliever Qi Xin) having statistics that I’d call “good”, but who knows? Perhaps one day a Chinese player with a surname that starts with X will catch somebody’s eye, just as Gui Yuan Xu once briefly caught the Orioles’ eye. And perhaps one day they will make the big leagues, breaking the “X” barrier once and for all.
So will we have a MLB player with a last name starting in X anytime soon? Probably not, but you never know…
In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! Avengers: Endgame is breaking all of the box office records, so now is as good of a time as any to bring you a Bizarre Baseball Culture look at a truly bizarre Avengers tale: 2008’s Marvel Adventures The Avengers Volume 1 #26, in which baseball helps our heroes save a planet from Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.
Well, sort of. It’s more of a non-sequitur thrown in to justify this awesome cover:
And… I’m totally fine with that! It is available to read for Marvel Unlimited subscribers here. Head below the jump for more of this piece:
After being distracted for a bit, I’m changing up my schedule- expect an “Avengers”-themed Bizarre Baseball Culture by this time next week at the latest.