Random wackiness: Things Cespedes may have fallen off of

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:

  • Cow
  • Llama
  • Ostrich
  • Emu
  • Donkey (a member of the horse family, but not technically a horse)
  • Zebra (a member of the horse family, but not technically a horse)
  • Rhino
  • An unusually large dog
  • Giraffe
  • Elephant
  • Water buffalo
  • Camel
  • Yak
  • Reindeer
  • Moose
  • Lion
  • Tiger
  • Bear (oh my!)
  • Galapagos tortoise
  • Velociraptor
  • Triceratops
  • 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.

Random question: Will we soon have a MLB player with a last name starting with X?

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.

Chinese Dreams

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…

“No Explanations Given” MLB predictions for 2019

Here it is- 25 predictions for the 2019 MLB season with NO EXPLANATIONS GIVEN. You want to know why I think some of these? Too bad! In some cases, I may not even be sure myself.

  1. Boston will win the AL East.
  2. Cleveland will win the AL Central.
  3. Houston will win the AL West.
  4. The Yankees and Twins will get Wild Cards.
  5. The Yankees will win the Wild Card game.
  6. The Astros will win the American League.
  7. The Phillies will win the NL East.
  8. The Cubs will win the NL Central.
  9. The Dodgers will win the NL West.
  10. The Nationals and Brewers will get Wild Cards.
  11. The Brewers will win the Wild Card game.
  12. The Phillies will win the National League.
  13. The Astros will win the World Series.
  14. Mike Trout will win AL MVP.
  15. Trevor Bauer will win AL Cy Young.
  16. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will win AL Rookie of the Year.
  17. Alex Cora will win AL Manager of the Year.
  18. Ronald Acuna Jr. will win NL MVP.
  19. Max Scherzer will win NL Cy Young.
  20. Victor Robles will win NL Rookie of the Year.
  21. Dave Martinez will win NL Manager of the Year.
  22. The Baltimore Orioles will have the worst record in MLB.
  23. The “Opener” will become more common.
  24. Giancarlo Stanton will lead MLB in HRs.
  25. Worries about a work stoppage at the end of the current CBA will increase.

How many trout can Mike Trout now buy?

Mike Trout is about to sign a $430 million contract, keeping him an Angel for likely the rest of his career.

Which leads to an important question: How much trout (the fish) could Trout (the ballplayer) buy with all of that money?

Ultimately, it depends on whether we are talking about whether he wants to buy trout as food or trout as fish.

The food is easy enough. Presuming that Mike Trout has Amazon Prime (and why wouldn’t he?), he could get 3.7 ounce Roland Rainbow Trout Fillets smoked and sliced for $7.08.  That means that (if he doesn’t get taxed on his salary- and he will be) he could buy 60.73 million (60,730,000) of those. That’s 224,701,000 ounces of trout- 6,270 (long) tons. That’s a bit over half the weight of all the trash that New York City creates in a day. That’s a lot of fish.

Then, there is the questions of actual Trout. According to a trout hatchery that I found on Google that offers trout for pond/lake stocking, the price of rainbow trout varies both on how long the trout and how many are being ordered. So, depending on what type of trout that Trout wants, it could be anywhere from a maximum of 296,600,000 rainbow trouts between 4 to 6 inches to a minimum of 107,500,000 rainbow trouts between 10 to 12 inches. Technically the trout could get bigger, but that’s a “call for pricing” thing. I’m curious if that would even be possible. I imagine it would technically be, as trout are very widespread both commercially and in the wild. But then again, I’m not an expert here. Maybe Mike Trout could corner the entire trout market.

So, in short: Mike Trout is going to be helluva rich and be able to buy a helluva lot of trout.

Just for the record…. (2018 Baseball Predictions)

For the record…

The Houston Astros will repeat as World Series champions, beating the Washington Nationals in 6 games.

The Miami Marlins will have the worst record in baseball.

The Baltimore Orioles will trade Manny Machado by the deadline.

Mike Trout will be MVP… but only because Manny Machado will have been traded to an NL team.

Giancarlo Stanton will not hit 60+ HRs, but will hit 50+ HRs.

Same goes for Aaron Judge.

The Yankees will win the AL East

The Indians will win the AL Central.

The Astros will win the AL West.

The Nationals will win the NL East.

The Cubs will win the NL Central.

The Dodgers will win the NL West.

The Red Sox and Twins will be the AL Wild Cards, the Red Sox will win that game.

The Brewers and Diamondbacks will be the NL Wild Cards, the Brewers will win that game.

Shohei Otani will not win AL Rookie of the Year.

Otani will contribute more on the mound than the plate.

Ronald Acuna will be NL Rookie of the Year.

Michael Kopech will be AL Rookie of the Year.

Clayton Kershaw will win NL Cy Young.

Chris Sale will win AL Cy Young.

There will be three no-hitters this year, but only two of them will be by a single pitcher.

The AL will win the All-Star Game.

Many of these predictions will be wrong.

Peter Angelos’ specter of mortality is keeping the Orioles from doing what must be done

The following are true:

1. Peter Angelos, majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, is 88 years old. This coming 4th of July, he will be 89.

2. The Baltimore Orioles’ current window for contention is almost entirely closed. Barring a miracle or a sudden change of heart, this will be the last season that Manny Machado, their best player, will be on the team. Adam Jones may also soon be gone. Chris Davis is still in for the next few years, but is no longer the slugger he once was. The pitching continues to be uneven at best, although Dylan Bundy still has some promise. The bullpen is better, but is still hurt by injuries and free agencies. The farm system, while not as bad as some say, is still poor, especially compared to most of the Orioles’ AL East rivals. Oh, and those AL rivals, especially the Yankees and Red Sox, seem to be headed towards another one of those 5-10 year stretches where they will be fighting for the top spot while all other teams fight for third.

3. The Orioles are doing nothing to set the groundwork for another run. They haven’t traded Machado, they haven’t had any significant talks with Jones, and to the best of my knowledge they haven’t stepped-up scouting or tried to get any top international prospects.

Those preceding points are, again, all true. And they are all related. To be more specifically, they all have to do with point number one: Peter Angelos is 88 years old. Every owner in sports dreams of two things (although the order may differ depending on the person): to win a championship, and to make a ton of money.

Angelos has succeeded in the latter. He is a billionaire, and the value of the Orioles has skyrocketed since his group first bought them in the 90s. No championship has come, and Angelos, in his old age, no doubt recognizes his chances of seeing one are numbered. It does not take a psychologist to recognize what is happening in his psyche: he wants to win one before he goes, and he has decided that he has a better chance if he stays the course, as opposed to committing to a long rebuild that he may not be alive for the end of.

It isn’t completely insane. To be sure, the Orioles aren’t anyone’s pick to win the World Series in 2018. Or even win the division. Or even the wild card. However, it isn’t totally insane to think that maybe Buck Showalter can work his magic one last time and that the team could overachieve its way into some type of Wild Card spot. And then, it’d be the playoffs, and who knows? Maybe they could somehow get hot at the right time and come home as champions. It isn’t likely at all, but it isn’t totally impossible.

However, it should be noted that there is an error with this theory: if indeed this was a case of wanting to win now before Machado leaves, the Orioles would be doing a lot more. To the best of my knowledge, they have made no major overtures to any of the top free agents still left on the market. They outright admitted they made no serious attempt to get Shohei Ohtani, citing organizational philosophy. With the exception of a few minor moves, they have made no indication that they are going for it, no-holds-barred.

Perhaps this is because of the climate of baseball this hot stove season, where the movement has been so slow that some are speaking of collusion and flaws in baseball’s financial structure. However, it seems unlikely that Angelos, probably the most pro-labor owner in baseball (during the 94/95 strike he refused to try out scabs), would go along with collusion, at least explicitly. No, more than likely it is just that the other part of being an owner: the money. Quite simply, Peter Angelos is trying to have it both ways: he wants to win a championship before he dies, but he also doesn’t want to put the money in the game that would let him do it.

In other words, he is trying to do two things at once, and in the end, he may end up with nothing at all.

“Woah, Cubs, Woah”: A song

(To be sung to the tune of “Go Cubs Go”)

Baseball season’s done today

But you better get woken for a whole new way

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

They’re singing …

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

They had the power, they had the speed

They were the best in the National League

Well it was the year and the Cubs were real

Fans came on down to Wrigley Field.

They’re singing now …

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day.

Baseball time was here again

Just like the days of old WGN

They stamped their feet and clapped their hands

Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans.

They’re singing now …

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day.

Postcards before the Baseball Apocalypse: Thoughts before the 2016 World Series

Well, I guess the Nationals didn’t make the World Series, huh? And now, random unorganized thoughts on the World Series we ARE getting:

Something’s gotta give

As I’m sure you know and will no doubt be reminded 1,908 times, this is a match-up of “cursed” teams. The Cubs, obviously, haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and hadn’t even been to one before this year since 1945, when a goat was infamously refused admission to Wrigley Field, leading to the infamous “Curse of the Billy Goat”. Cleveland, meanwhile, hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, and is said to have been cursed to never do so again because of the trading of popular star Rocky Colavito in 1960. Others, however, say that the curse is actually the “Curse of Wahoo”, which fates the Indians to runner-up status until they remove the unquestionably politically-incorrect red-faced smile from their uniforms entirely (the Indians have made it much less prominent recently, but it’s still there).

Unless you count the three different Washington baseball franchises as one line of tradition (and most don’t), these are the two most snake-bitten teams in basically all of North American sports. One of them has to break a curse here, right? Or are we doomed for an endless series where the extra innings spread on until Baseball Armageddon?

Andrew Miller, Destroyer of Worlds

It’s hard to put into words how great Andrew Miller has been lately, and how well Terry Francona has used him. Ignoring the outdated orthodoxy that caused even the relatively-maverick Buck Showalter to hold Zack Britton for a save opportunity that never came, Francona deploys his best pitcher when he’s most needed.

And for that reason, it is going to be imperative that the Cubs score early and probably often. Because Miller Time probably means another year without a World Series title if they don’t.

Kyle “Kirk Gibson” Schwarber

I’m looking forward to seeing Kyle Schwarber, making his first appearance since getting injured all the way back in April. He’ll only be DHing and perhaps pinch-hitting, but with his bat, that could easily mean we might see a Kirk Gibson moment where a player who has no business being in the game delivers a magical moment.

Or maybe he’ll be a total non-factor who strikes out. Where’s the fun in that, though?

Terry vs. Theo

Amazingly, the fact that Theo Epstein’s team is facing Terry Francona’s team hasn’t gotten as much play as I thought it would. I mean, it’s been brought up a lot, but not as much as I thought it would have. Probably because of the bigger storylines going around.

Blah, Blah, Blah, get to your prediction:

Cubs in 6.

Why?

Depth. I think that the Indians can win match and defeat the Cubs at the top of the rotations and with the bullpen, but the deeper lineup for the Cubs and starting rotation give them the overall edge. To rewrite a song: “Hey Chicago, what do you say, the Cubs have finally won the day!”

 

My sure-to-be-wrong predictions for the postseason

Before the year, I predicted that the Washington Nationals would win it all. Therefore, I must stick with that prediction.

But I’m not confident in it. I made that prediction assuming that Bryce Harper wouldn’t fall off (he did, due to injuries) and that Stephen Strasburg would be healthy (nope). Still, they definitely are a team that can win it all. They just aren’t the favorite anymore.

So, without further ado, my predictions for the postseason, sure to be wrong (the team with home field comes SECOND here):

AL WILD CARD: Neither Chris Tillman or Marcus Stroman have done that great down the stretch, but with the lineups behind them that hasn’t been that big of a deal. Make no mistake: this game could become a slugfest. However, I’m going to give the edge (barely) to the Orioles, because I have more faith in their bullpen, and Zack Britton in particular. Of course, a one-game playoff is a total crapshoot, so who the heck knows?

NL WILD CARD: Folks, I’ve checked the calendar, and it’s October. And Madison Bumgarner is pitching. Sorry, Mets. Giants win, although, again… one-game playoffs are crapshoots.

ALDS ORIOLES/RANGERS: Man, are the Rangers the most anonymous best-record-in-the-AL team in years or what? A lot of people seem to have just assumed that the Red Sox had the best record, but they didn’t. Anyway, I think that the Rangers will win this series in 4, as they A) are the better team and B) have better pitching.

ALDS INDIANS/RED SOX: The Red Sox may not have had the best record in the AL, but they probably were the best team. The Indians, meanwhile, played like how many people thought they’d play last season. This probably will be the best series in the Division Series round (barring a Blue Jays-Rangers rematch), but I think the Red Sox win it in 5.

NLDS DODGERS/NATIONALS: Again, I am duty-bound to pick the Nationals (I’ll say in 5), but if I weren’t duty-bound to do so I probably would pick the Dodgers, who are coming into the postseason hotter and with Clayton Kershaw healthy again. Still, the Nationals are still a very good team, and maybe the bad luck that seems to haunt Kershaw every damn October- as well as the Dodgers’ own injury problems- will pop up again.

NLDS GIANTS/CUBS: If I were not duty-bound to pick the Nationals, I’d probably say the Cubs would finally win it all this year. They may well be the most complete team in baseball, and I think they will defeat the Giants in 4.

ALCS RED SOX/RANGERS: This could be a good series, and I’m sure the FOX will be happy to know that I think the Red Sox would win in 6 due to their better depth and what my gut is telling me.

NLCS NATIONALS/CUBS: Again, duty-bound to pick the Nationals, although logically I think the Cubs would win. So… Nationals in 7.

WORLD SERIES NATIONALS/RED SOX: I have a feeling this series would either be a short 4-5 game victory for the Red Sox, or a 6-7 game victory of the Nationals. You can guess what I think it’d be based on what I’ve said so far.

World Baseball Classic Update (9-30-16)

It’s time for a WBC Update!

First off, as you probably saw, Israel won it’s qualifying pool and is headed to the main WBC tournament.

Secondly, White Sox instructor Luis Sierra, who was a first-base coach for Colombia in the WBC Qualifiers, will again coach for Colombia in the main tournament next year.

Adam Jones says he will play for Team USA again if asked. Also in Team USA news, they are said to be looking at Brian Dozier of the Twins as a possible member.

The Seattle Times ran an article on Mariners who may be playing in the WBC. Robinson Cano is all-in for the Dominican, of course, and so is Nelson Cruz. Dae-Ho Lee says he’ll play for Korea is he’s asked, and Felix Hernandez wants to play for Venezuela again (he wasn’t able to in 2013 due to contract stuff). Reliever Edwin Diaz wants to play for his native Puerto Rico. As for Americans, Kyle Seager said he’d love to play, although he admits the depth of American baseball means he could end up staying in Spring Training or sitting on the bench.

While not “news”, per se, you should still read Lindsey Adler’s awesome article on Pakistani baseball.

Until next time, this has been Dan Glickman with your WBC update.