Everyone I’m sure is in a much better mood than the last time I published this column.
- If you follow soccer in the US, you are most likely familiar with the “Men in Blazers” who have a podcast and a weekly show on NBCSN. One of their sayings is “the belief that soccer is America’s sport of the future as it has been since 1972.” (Really, I have a baseball point here, and it’s not just that one of them threw out the first pitch at yesterday’s White Sox game.) No, my point is that conversely, baseball has been the sport of America’s past for over 100 years. In fact, Emma Baccellieri documents about how baseball has been dying since (at least) 1905.
- This season is not close to being over, but Jeff Passan looks at 20 questions he has for the upcoming off-season.
- Jay Jaffe looks at players who took a big step forward in 2019 and which ones can we expect to keep playing at that level in 2020 and beyond and which ones we can expect to come back to earth. (ESPN+ sub. req.)
- I hesitate to link to this article because its premise is so bad and it’s about a Cubs player. But it was the talk of baseball social media yesterday because of its bad premise. Bob Nightengale writes about how Nicholas Castellanos’ super performance for the Cubs exposes the flaws of analytics. Yes, the Cubs of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer ignored their analytic department and got Castellanos for his heart and hustle. Also, Castellanos talks about how he doesn’t buy analytics because he has his own spray charts that show how many home runs he lost because of Comerica Park, which is literally an example of analytics. But you may want to read it because of some good quotes by and about Castellanos. That is, if you can put up people still taking shots at Moneyball 16 years after the book’s publication.
- Speaking of Castellanos, David Schoenfield looks back at some the big deadline deals to see how they are working out a month later. Obviously Castellanos is in the “definitely a good deal” category.
- Rays prospect Blake Bivens commented for the first time about the murder of his wife, son and mother-in-law.
- Bivens’ teammates in Montgomery talk about Bivens and his family and are trying to be as supportive as possible.
- Back in June, the Cleveland Indians placed pitcher Carlos Carrasco on the injured list. Later, it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. On Sunday, the Indians plan to activate Carrasco off the IL.
- Last time I talked about a possible sale of the Royals, and now we’ve learned from Bob Nightengale that health concerns by current owner David Glass are a big reason for the sale.
- Barry Petchesky thinks Royals fans should be “cautiously thrilled” with the sale.
- The folks over at Royals Review welcome the sale, which several sources are saying is certain to happen unless something completely shocking happens.
- Craig Edwards notes that Glass is going to make one of the largest profits on a baseball team ever, having bought the team for $96 million in 2000 and will sell the team for $1 billion.
- Gabe Lacques looks at how much some current MLB owners could make by selling now.
- Joe Posnanski argues that before baseball can adopt an automated strike zone, we need to agree on what a strike is first.
- I watched part of an Orioles home game this week and I nearly lost my will to live. (I was trying to cheer for the Orioles.) But as Dan Szymborski writes, for a terrible season, the Orioles had a pretty good one in that they managed to take some solid steps towards future success.
- The Tigers are arguably having a worse season than the Orioles, but Craig Calcaterra argues that the team should not fire manager Ron Gardenhire.
- The Twins set a new MLB record for most home runs in a season on the road. And it’s not even Labor Day.
- Jay Jaffe notes that Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is hitting home runs to all fields like it was 2018 again.
- The Athletics scored the winning run against the Royals thanks to an obscure rule.
- Craig Edwards praises Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzalez as the best of a dying breed—a soft-tossing lefty.
- Mike Mazzeo believes that the Yankees bullpen could get a big boost in September by calling up right-handed prospect Deivi Garcia.
- In 2014, Eddy Alvarez won a silver medal in speed skating at the Sochi Olympics. Now Alvarez is close to making his major-league debut with the Marlins.
- Marc Carig notes the potential conflict of interest when baseball broadcasters have other jobs as advisors to major league clubs. (The Athletic sub. req.) Such as David Ross, who calls games for ESPN and is an advisor to the Cubs’ front office.
- Ben Pickman remembers the short-lived “Senior Professional Baseball League,” also known as the old-timers league of the late-1980s.
- How many baseballs does MLB go through in one season? What happens to the balls before they get put into play? Molly Knight has your answers on the life of a baseball. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Tim Brown talks to outfielders as to why they make a “courtesy trot” towards the wall when everyone in the stadium knows the ball is a home run. Brown finds that most outfielders feel it would be disrespectful to their pitcher to not at least make a minimum effort towards the ball.
- Phillies utility man Sean Rodriguez doubled off the wall at Citizens Bank Park and was roundly booed by the fans in Philadelphia, which must be the most Philly thing ever.
- Michael Baumann notes that Indians pitcher Shane Bieber has taken the same route that Jacob deGrom took towards stardom.
- And finally, Shane Bieber wore a jersey for Players Weekend that said “Not Justin.” So to return the favor, pop star Justin Bieber was seen around Los Angeles wearing an Indians jersey that said “Not Shane Bieber.”
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Everyone have a safe and happy weekend.