Looking back and waiting for spring

Well, now that the smoke has mostly settled from the World Series, it’s time for a look back at it and a look forward.

First off, the World Series itself. It was, admittedly, not the best series to end the season on. Both clubs had some off-the-field baggage (Houston with the cheating scandal, Atlanta with the continued existence of the chop as well as how they had become a prop for some politicos), and the series highlighted some of modern baseball’s most frustrating features (such as early pitching changes and the degradation of base-running ability for all but a few).

Still, it had some great moments and some big personalities. Freddie Freeman, a Hall-of-Famer in the making (the player most similar to him statistically through the age 31 season is Eddie Murray), now has a ring to show for it. Max Fried had a coming-out party that helped solidify his place as one of the best pitchers in the NL (he had been great the previous two seasons as well, but sometimes the playoffs knocks people higher in the conscious). Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall proved to be perhaps the best trio of mid-season replacements in years, if not ever, a masterstroke for the Atlanta front office. On the Astros side, the usual suspects were joined by unexpected people like Zack Greinke, who will now likely go down in history as the last pitcher (aside from two-ways like Ohtani) to get a hit. And the two dugouts were run by old-time baseball men in a new-age baseball world: Brian Snitker and Dusty Baker, who both fittingly have deep ties to the late Henry Aaron and his family.

Ultimately, I consider any series that goes at least six games “good.” Nobody likes a sweep or a near-sweep (save for the team that wins, of course). So while the games themselves were, with one or two exceptions, hardly the most entertaining that baseball could give, I am generally happy.

Now, of course, is the offseason. It could prove tumultuous. A lockout in December is considered so likely that The Onion has already made a joke about it. The fact that the work stoppage will come during December is, ironically, probably a good thing, as it makes it more likely that some sort of new Collective Bargaining Agreement will come about before games are lost. However, given the greedy stubbornness of the owners as well as the (largely justified!) grievances of the players (who, frankly, got pantsed in the last CBA), the ultimate outcome is unknown.

What is known as that when a new CBA does come into force it is likely that baseball will have shifted into yet another new era. It is considered all-but-certain that the DH will become universal, and other rules changes will likely also be either implemented or be put on the road to being implemented. The financial rules will also doubtless change, although given the very nature of the CBA those are likely the hardest to predict.

And so we wait…

Finally, a word on Buster Posey. In my opinion, the three most important on-field people in the long history of the New York/San Francisco Giants are (we can argue a bit on the order) John McGraw, Willie Mays, and Barry Bonds. The fourth most important? Buster Posey.


“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A Lost Year for Atlanta

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, the Atlanta Braves.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins would play a regular season game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In most years, one would think this would mean the Marlins were giving up a home game. However, it’s the Braves who are.

And that seems fitting for Atlanta, a team that will be going nowhere this season as they turn their eyes almost entirely to the future. Defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons is gone. All-Star pitcher Shelby Miller is gone. Guys like Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel are now distant memories. The acquisitions by the Braves this off-season have either been entirely aimed at the future (former Number 1 pick Dansby Swanson, for example) or meant to fill a spot and keep the team from being a complete joke. Oh, Freddie Freeman is still there… although you can bet there will be talk of him possibly being traded, even if it could end up as just that: speculation.

The plan is clear: After this season, the Braves will move to the wealthier suburbs up in Cobb County, playing in a new stadium called SunTrust Park. The first year or two there, the thought is, will be a honeymoon, as people will go there just because it’s new.

The Braves hope that by the time the honeymoon ends, the team will be good enough to get people to come to games to see a winning team.

Only time will tell if they are right. But I don’t think it will take much time for the 2016 Braves to stink up the joint. It could get ugly really fast.