“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): The “McFly Prophecy” was bunk, but the Cubs are going to win, and soon

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 Cubs.

Last year, it was said, the Cubs would win the World Series. It was destined. Back To The Future II had predicted it. And as the Cubs actually made the playoffs and won first the Wild Card game and then the NLDS, it seemed, perhaps, that what was once just a few lines in a movie would prove to be an eerie prediction.

Of course, it turned out that that joke back in Back To The Future II turned out to be just that: a joke. Perhaps something that happened in the old west in the third movie invalidated the future where the Cubs beat Miami in the 2015 World Series. Or maybe, just maybe, it was just a joke all along!

But, well, I think the writers of BTtF II did get the decade right, as the Cubs are, finally, going to win their first World Series since 1908 sometime this decade.

Why? Because, in some ways, they are ahead of schedule. They weren’t supposed to be as good last season as they were. Oh, they were supposed to be better, but they were not supposed to be in the NLCS.

And now, though, the Cubs will be one more year more experienced. Last year’s team was young, and while this year’s team will also be young, that experience will make them even more dangerous. Kris Bryant will no longer be a mere rookie. Neither will Kyle Schwarber.

And then there will be the new additions. Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist have been added. So has John Lackey.

And Joe Maddon, the mad genius, is still skippering the team.

There are no guarantees, of course, but it could happen. This could be the year. And the moment that will result could be the Greatest Of All Time.

You know… the GOAT!

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): The Adam LaRoche situation is about players vs. front office

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 White Sox.

If you are even somewhat following baseball, you probably have had at least heard of the bizarre case of Adam LaRoche, the now-former first baseman of the Chicago White Sox. What exactly has happened depends on who you ask, but in essence LaRoche more-or-less-retired because he was told he could no longer have his son around with him all the time.

In the last 24 hours, though, the tale of Adam-and-Drake LaRoche has gone from a mere strange story to… whatever the hell it is now. The White Sox, it appears, are not happy with all of this happened. Like, they apparently considered boycotting. And then, today… well.. it’s blown up:

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Yikes. A dispute about a 14-year-old kid has seemingly caused open rebellion against the front office of the team, especially Ken Williams, the VP and de-facto GM (the White Sox are one of those teams where the titles and responsibilities are a bit unclear). The team’s best pitcher is going unfiltered at him!

And, well, I get the feeling this now has nothing to do with Drake LaRoche. Oh, sure, I’m guessing Chris Sale and him were tight, but I think this is now about the fact that Ken Williams just did this all on his own, breaking the self-policing tradition of baseball clubhouses. Yes, Williams was once a player, but he isn’t anymore. But now, he stuck his head into the clubhouse and changed the status quo, and, what’s more, didn’t communicate what was going on all that well. The result, perhaps, was inevitable.

And now, madness has descended upon Camelback Ranch.

What comes next is anyone’s guess.

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): OOTP ’17 (almost) determines the greatest Marlins team of all

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 Marlins.

I am lucky enough to have on my hard drive a reviewer’s copy of Out Of The Park 17. While obviously the review will not be out for a few more days, I decided that for today’s “30 Teams, 30 Posts” I would use one of OOTP’s newest features to answer a question:

What was the greatest Marlins team of all time? Was it the 1997 Florida Marlins helmed by Jim Leyland or was it Jack McKeon’s 2003 Marlins?

Using the “Historical Exhibition” feature of OOTP 17, I’m going to find out… after the jump:

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“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A stream of consciousness on Greinke being on the Diamondbacks

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 D-Backs.

I know, as a fact, that Zack Greinke is now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. That is something I am 100% sure of.

That still doesn’t mean I truly believe it, though.

I mean, this was Zack Greinke. He’s admitted in the past that he follows the money. And he was in Los Angeles, the richest team in the league in one of the biggest markets in the country.

And yet, he ended up in Arizona. Phoenix. For the Diamondbacks.

I mean, if it was the Yankees or Red Sox, I could see it. Heck, I’d even go with someplace like San Francisco or one of the Chicago teams.

But he went to Arizona. The Diamondbacks.

I still haven’t fully processed this.

I’m not sure when I will.

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): Carlos Correa is the next face of baseball

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 Houston Astros and their young star, Carlos Correa.

If I was making a computer program to pick out the next “Face of Baseball”, I’d tell it to find a young position-player phenom who was bilingual and played in a large city, who has already tasted both the highs and the lows of Major League Baseball.

In other words, I’d basically force it to pick Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros. Just 21, the Houston shortstop is perhaps everything that baseball would want in a new superstar.

Here’s why:

  1. He’s young. Even younger than Harper and Trout.
  2. He’s bilingual, able to speak both his native Spanish (he’s from Puerto Rico) and English. With the great internationalization of baseball, this allows him to reach fans around the Western Hemisphere regardless of what language they speak.
  3. While he plays with joy and confidence, he also doesn’t seem to be one to make enemies or ruffle too many feathers. Not that there’s anything wrong with ruffling feathers when they need to ruffled, of course.
  4. He already knows joy and pain. He helped lead the Astros to the playoffs last season, but also was somewhat responsible for their shocking blow-up in the ALDS against the Royals.
  5. He plays in a big market- Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States!
  6. Most importantly of all… he’s good! Really good! He had 22 HRs last season despite only appearing in 99 games. He showed great speed on the bases, swiping 14 bags while only getting caught four times. And while his “slash stats” show some room for improvement, they still are remarkable for somebody so young playing at shortstop, and will probably improve in the coming years.

So, in short, Carlos Correa is awesome.

 

“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.

 

30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): What is Raymond?

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, I reveal the truth about one of the AL East’s mascots- Raymond of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Below you can see Raymond, the mascot of the Tampa Bay Rays:

You may be thinking that, given the fact that he is the mascot for the Rays, that he would be a Ray. You would be wrong. It turns out that he is NOT a Ray.

Here’s some information about Ray from Tampa’s website:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 8.02.56 PMDo you see the relevant thing, here?

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 10.23.35 AMYes, he is, apparently, a “seadog”. However, according to Wikipedia, there is no such thing as a seadog. Oh, it’s a slang term for seals, or for people (or dogs) that spend a lot of time at sea, but there is no such thing as a sea dog. Nothing of the species Canus Manta Whatthefluffalus. In fact, there isn’t even a genis called Canus. There is, obviously, Canis, which is where dogs are, but Canus (Latin for “aging”) does not.

So, what is it, Tampa? What is Raymond? What scientists truly discovered him? Could he be… (GASP) a mere man in a suit!?!?!

Tell us the truth, Tampa. We know you are hiding something.

 

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016) has it’s Blue Jays installment at the Hall of Very Good!

The latest “30 Teams, 30 Posts” installment, about the Blue Jays, is part of this week’s “Wisdom and Links” at Hall of Very Good!

30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): The Tale of Dandy, the Short-Lived Yankees Mascot

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, I speak of Dandy, the short-lived Yankees mascot.

Every team in MLB has a mascot, with three exceptions: the Angels (although they do have the Rally Monkey), the Dodgers… and the Yankees.

But, believe it or not, the Yankees did indeed have a mascot at one point! His name was Dandy, and he looked like this:

dandyCreated by Bonnie Erickson (who also designed Miss Piggy) and her husband and creative partner Wayde Harrison (together, they created the Phillie Phanatic, Youppi!, and other famed mascots), Dandy came to be in an attempt for the Yankees to replicate Phanatic Phever. With the Erickson/Harrison pedigree, a friendly and huggable shape, and a epic mustache, Dandy seemed destined for success. Even George Steinbrenner seemed interested in him, haggling with Erickson and Harrison to make sure that the color of Dandy’s pinstripes were the right shade.

And Dandy may have gotten away with it too, if not for that meddling Chicken. Two weeks before Dandy was to debut in 1979, Lou Piniella took umbrage at the San Diego Chicken (on loan to the Mariners) putting a hex on Ron Guidry and threw his mitt at him. After this incident, Steinbrenner declared that mascots had no place in baseball.

Still, a deal was a deal, so Dandy went into action- in a greatly reduced capacity. His opening debut, which would have involved a pre-set routine and theme music, was scrapped, never to be seen. The Yankees did everything in their power to make him as unimportant as possible, even saying in their team guide that he was just there to amuse the kiddies and stay as far away from the action as possible. True to their word, he was confined up in the cheap-seats.

To make matters worse, for a time Dandy was banned from the stadium outright because his mustache called to mind Thurman Munson, who died in a tragic plane crash.

So, perhaps it isn’t surprising that the few years that Dandy existed were ones of obscurity. As early as the 1990s, people who worked for the Yankees claimed that there never even was a mascot. At one point, during a rare public appearance, Dandy was attacked by a group of drunk bankers, causing the guy inside of the costume- somebody named Rick Ford- to hold it for ransom.

Amazingly, though, it wasn’t the Yankees who cancelled Dandy. It was Erickson and Harrison, who hated how marginalized their creation was. They took him and went home when his lease was up, despite the fact the Yankees were interested in renewing it. To this day, they still own the rights and design, so if you are an eclectic millionaire looking to have a obscure mascot at your next birthday party… give them a call.

Sources:

“Mascots R Them” by Erin St. John Kelly

“Not so Fine and Dandy: The History of The Yankees Mascot” by Josh Eisenberg

“The Short, Sad History Of The Yankees 1980s Mascot, Dandy” by Jen Carlson

“Yankees’ Long-Forgotten Mascot” by Scott Cacciola

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A treasury of Seattle Mariners commercials

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, I waste time on YouTube watching old Mariners ads.

It is one of those generally known facts that the Mariners have some of the best commercials in baseball. I’m not sure where and when this piece of wisdom first came into being, but it exists. So, let’s go back and look at some past Mariners ads, shall we?

2003: Bret Boone Bat Flip

It is unusual to think in this world where some people spent most of the last few seasons complaining about bat-flips that as early as 2003 there was an ad based upon the fact that Bret Boone had a bat flip.

2003: Ichiro Shift

What’s scary is that this isn’t so much a commercial so much as it is a documentary. I wonder how they got all the Athletics stuff, though. I mean, they even have the mascot there. That’s not exactly something you buy from a prop store. Maybe the conversation went like this:

“Hey, we need like 25 uniforms and the elephant suit.”

“Why?”

“We’re making a commercial that implies that even if every member of your roster was on the field, we’d still be able to get a hit off of you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, that is absurd.”

“It’s Ichiro.”

“Okay, that makes sense. We’ll get them to you next Tuesday.”

2004: Ichiro Autograph

The fact we never got a sitcom about Ichiro living in a small anytown Seattle suburb is greatly disappointing. Also, the idea that Ichiro could throw a ball to Spokane from Seattle (a distance of about 230 miles) is only slightly less realistic than his previous commercial.

2005: Ichiro and Raul Ibanez sell the Batter’s Box in a Telethon

“Dude.”

“Dude.”

2006: Jamie Moyer Tribute

What’s great about this one is that Jamie Moyer played parts of five more seasons after 2006.

2006: The Missing Ks

I like the devotion to the gag here, but it’s a bit “meh” compared to some of the other ads.

2006: Epidemic

I feel like “Ichiro’ing” with lawn equipment would be dangerous. But, hey, who am I to argue?

2006: Big Richie

Wait, is that Nick Punto as a catcher at the end?  He never played catcher!

2008: Fullness and Sheen

Somewhere, Mr. Burns trembles.

2008: L-Screen

Worth it if only for the question of what happened to the original L-screen.

2010: Two First Names

A) I totally forgot somehow that Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez were on the same team. B) How did this conversation about two first names get started? I want to know.

2012: Impressions

Worth it if only for Ichiro quoting Indiana Jones.

2012: Nobody’s Perfect

I wonder if they had a giveaway of the ventriloquist doll?

2013: Wise ‘Ol Buffalo

Okay, that’s just weird.

2014: Chadwick

I applaud the Mariners for doing the history lesson.

2014: Crowned

It’s the Elvis that does it for me.

2015: Bat Control

This would be a better commercial if Robinson Cano didn’t have a (for him) down year in 2015.

2015: Where does it go?

I just saw an invisible arrow deflate the bouncy-castle of an Athletics’ fan. Man, why is it always the Athletics?

 

I can’t find any 2016 Mariners ads yet, but I’m sure they will continue to be… uhhm… unique. b