Hope springs eternal. It’s finally here, folks; it’s baseball season. Summer is around the corner, and we’ll all soon be sitting in the sun at our favorite ballparks inhaling hot dogs and ice cold beer.
Everyone is doing prediction content, we know that. But our official 2022 prognostications will be coming via the reminiscing route.
Who doesn’t love a good baseball name from from the 90’s or early aughts? So that’s how we’re giving our picks, via our favorite throwback name from each team.
Toronto Blue Jays – Gregg Zaun, C
Boston Red Sox – Trot Nixon, RF
Tampa Bay Rays – Miguel Cairo, 2B
New York Yankees – Scott Brosius, 3B
Baltimore Orioles – Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Chicago White Sox – José Valentín, 3B
Minnesota Twins – Matt Lawton, CF
Cleveland Guardians – Carlos Baerga, 2B
Detroit Tigers – José Macías, 3B
Kansas City Royals – Mark Grudzielanek, 2B
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Scott Spiezio, 1B
Houston Astros – Julio Lugo, SS
Seattle Mariners – Mike Cameron, CF
Texas Rangers – Royce Clayton, SS
Oakland A’s – Matt Stairs, DH
Philadelphia Phillies – Mickey Morandini, 2B
Atlanta Braves – Ryan Klesko, RF
New York Mets – Benny Agbayani, LF
Miami Marlins – Hee-Seop Choi, 1B
Washington Nationals – José Vidro, 2B
St. Louis Cardinals – Fernando Vina, 2B
Milwaukee Brewers – Jeromy Burnitz, RF
Chicago Cubs – Ron Coomer, 3B
Cincinnati Reds – Pokey Reese, 2B
Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Womack, SS
Colorado Rockies – Dante Bichette, RF
San Francisco Giants – Benito Santiago, C
Los Angeles Dodgers – César Izturis, SS
San Diego Padres – Mark Kotsay, CF
Arizona Diamondbacks – Lyle Overbay, 1B
God, that was amazing…I think I need a cigarette. So many great names, so much boring baseball to have on in the background until October. Let’s go.
The finish line is in sight on our recurring series “Who Wore It Best.” In our penultimate edition, we’re getting into the teens.
19 – Johnny Unitas
Starting off young, fresh, and hip. While 19 turns out to be an incredibly strongly represented number, Unitas is widely known as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. Four championships, three MVPs, and a member of all three of the 50th, 75th and 100th NFL Anniversary Teams gives Johnny U the nod.
Honorable Mentions: Tony Gwynn, Willis Reed, Steve Yzerman, Jonathan Toews
18 – Peyton Manning
Back to back Colts quarterbacks to get us started here. A member of the most recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee class, Manning put up some unreal numbers en route to two Super Bowl wins. Manning’s trophy case is busting at the seams with five MVPs, the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award, and number retirement plaques for his number 18 in both Indianapolis and Denver.
Honorable Mention: Denis Savard
17 – Todd Helton
Todd Helton played baseball and football at University of Tennessee, and was a teammate of Peyton Manning’s. However, Helton makes our list for his accomplishments on the diamond. Helton retired in 2013 with a career average of .316, 369 home runs, and 2,519 hits. Along the way, he won three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and a batting title in 2000.
Honorable Mention: Philip Rivers
16 – Joe Montana
Much like Unitas, Montana is a firm part of the “best quarterback of all-time” conversation. Montana lead the 49ers to four Super Bowl rings, while being the MVP in three of those four wins. One of the more accurate quarterbacks of his time, he lead the NFL in completion percentage five separate seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Whitey Ford, Brett Hull
15 – Bart Starr
If we’re including Johnny Unitas, it’s only fair to involve Bart Starr. The quarterback who lead the Packers to victories in Super Bowls I and II, while winning MVP in both games, finished his career with five championships, a regular season MVP award, and four Pro Bowls.
Honorable Mentions: Carlos Beltran, Jim Edmonds
14 – Pete Rose
Taking a bit of gamble including Rose on our list, but here we are. The all-time hit king (4,256) does have a stellar on-field resumé. Seventeen All-Star games, three World Series rings, the 1973 NL MVP, and two Gold Gloves.
Honorable Mentions: Ernie Banks, Oscar Robertson, Dan Fouts
13 – Wilt Chamberlain
Of course the only man to score 100 points in an NBA game is making our list. Wilt the Stilt averaged a silly 30.9 points per game and 22.9 rebounds per game over his 15 year career. He also won two rings, four MVPs, was a seven time scoring champion, as well as an 11 time rebound champion.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Rodriguez, Dan Marino
12 – Tom Brady
The greatest quarterback of all time at the most important position in sports. TB12’s resumé is too long to outline here; but it’s headlined by his seven Super Bowl rings. On top of that, Brady has lead the league at one point in his career in passing touchdowns, yards, and rating.
Honorable Mentions: John Stockton, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Jim Kelly, Joe Namath, Bob Griese, Aaron Rodgers, Jarome Iginla
11 – Mark Messier
Being the center piece of a dynasty goes a long way in lists like these. Messier was the unquestioned leader & captain in Edmonton, where he lead the Oilers to five Stanley Cups. He also became the only player to captain two separate teams to Stanley Cup victories when he lead the Rangers to the cup in 1994.
Honorable Mentions: Barry Larkin, Larry Fitzgerald
10 – Fran Tarkenton
Fran Tarkenton walked to Steve Young, Michael Vick, and the like could run. Not only did Tarkenton sling it for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns, he also ran for 3,674 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. Another fun fact: his only MVP season came in 1975, his 15th year in the NFL.
Honorable Mentions: Walt Frazier, Guy Lafleur
Heavy quarterback representation here. Any other noise was a faint whisper from baseball. Abysmal showing by hockey and basketball. We’ll bid farewell to our ongoing series in the next edition of “Who Wore It Best.”
Guess who’s back? Our “Who Wore It Best” series, that’s who. We last checked in on who wore numbers 79-70 best, now we dive into the 60’s.
69 – Jared Allen
Not a huge field of choices here, but a nice selection. Jared Allen played for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears, and Panthers during an above-average 11 year NFL career. He made First Team All-Pro four times, lead the NFL twice in sacks, and made five Pro Bowls.
Honorable Mention: N/A
68 – Jaromir Jagr
The flow is enough to be included on our list. That head lettuce is a thing of beauty. Jagr wasn’t half bad in his 24 seasons in professional hockey either: most career game winning goals (135), five Art Ross trophies, and two Stanley Cups.
Honorable Mention: Will Shields
67 – Francisco Córdova
Remember this guy? Cordova gets the nod for pitching nine innings in a what ended up being a 10 inning no hitter for the Pirates against the Astros on June 12, 1997.
Honorable Mention: N/A
66 – Mario Lemieux
Surprisingly strong category here at 66. Lemieux takes it home as one of the best hockey players to ever do it. In fact, Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky are the only two players who occupy the list of top ten seasons for points and assists in a season. Pretty impressive company to keep.
Honorable Mentions: Ray Nitschke, Yasiel Puig
65 – James Paxton
Paxton may very well end up being the youngest athlete to make our list. However, “Big Maple” has earned his spot at 65 for recording a no-hitter for the Mariners in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Erik Karlsson
64 – Randall McDaniel
McDaniel was a stalwart offensive guard for 13 seasons, mostly with the Vikings. McDaniel started 220 of his career 222 games, made 12 Pro Bowls, and is a member of NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Honorable Mention: N/A
63 – Gene Upshaw
Another hard nosed, badass, old school NFL lineman. Upshaw played 14 years for the Raiders, scooping up three First Team All-Pro selections, five Second Team All-Pro selections, and two Super Bowl rings.
Honorable Mention: Brad Marchand
62 – Jim Langer
Jim Langer was the center for the only undefeated team in NFL history, the 1972 Dolphins. Langer won two Super Bowls and was a three time First Team All-Pro.
Honorable Mention: N/A
61 – Liván Hernández
Who else loved this absolute unit growing up? His career numbers aren’t stellar, but anyone who can hang around the majors for 17 seasons is impressive. Hernandez is a two time All-Star who won a ring as well as World Series MVP honors with the Marlins in 1997.
Honorable Mention: Rick Nash
60 – Dallas Keuchel
Not a lot of meat on the 60 bone, but a fine choice here. Keuchel has established himself as one of the steadiest pitchers in baseball since entering the bigs with the Astros in 2012. He has won four Gold Gloves, the 2015 Cy Young, and a World Series ring in 2017.
Honorable Mention: N/A
Another edition of “Who Wore It Best,” done and dusted. Nice representative spread in the the 60’s for football, hockey, and baseball. Total choke job from basketball here; maybe we’ll see some stronger effort in the 50’s?
You made it. You’re back. Every year, Spring rolls around and you reappear in our lives just when we’re all at our wit’s end with Winter.
Your debut is upon us, and league-wide hope is at a premium. Spring Training has wrapped, and all thirty teams have traveled back home to start the long, arduous road to a pennant. The weather is starting to turn; summer is creeping around the corner, and with it, thoughts of cold beer and hot dogs dance in our heads.
Opening Day is a time and feeling unlike any other. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night thinking your alarm’s about to go off, to find you’ve only been asleep for an hour. It’s like taking out your contacts after a long day, or hitting every green light when you’re running late. It’s hard to exactly describe it, but have you ever found a $20 bill in your pants that you forgot about? That’s what it feels like having you back.
From Wrigley to Fenway, Yankee Stadium to Petco Park, let the hum of fastballs and pop of catcher’s mitts fill the air for the next seven months. Let the home runs fly out of Coors Field, pop ups die in the acres of foul territory at RingCentral Coliseum, and Bernie Brewer take all of the home run slides his heart desires.
Who cares if the pace of play is a little slow? Who doesn’t want to to piss in a urinal trough, pay $12 for a mini helmet full of ice cream that melts in five minutes, or step in dropped neon yellow nacho cheese while awkwardly scootching past eight of your fellow attendees all while squeezing into undersized seats in 98 degree weather?
We definitely don’t get embarrassed when our favorite players get injured in hilarious ways while playing a noncontact sport. We don’t care that you make a bunch of old men squeeze into baseball uniforms, or that your Hall of Fame voting is incredibly flawed, or that your fields of play aren’t equal in size like every other legitimate professional sport. No reason to complain about the fact that the DH rule isn’t universal, unwritten rules are dumb, and that hitting at this point is either home runs or strikeouts.
Baseball, we could not be happier that you are back.
We’re kicking off a new series; and we’re going by the numbers. This countdown is dedicated to the best players of all-time by each jersey number. No concrete formula here, just career stats, impact on the game, and some good old fashion opinion. Let’s hop right in.
99 – Wayne Gretzky
He’s called “The Great One” for a reason. Hard to pick a favorite stat to demonstrate Gretzky’s dominance, but one of my favorites is that if he never scored a goal, he still would have had 11 straight 100-point seasons and won four scoring titles.
Honorable Mentions: Manny Ramirez, George Mikan, Warren Sapp
98 – Casey Hampton
Not a widely popular number, so not our largest name on the list. Appropriately nicknamed “Big Snacks,” Hampton made five Pro Bowls as the Steelers nose tackle in the early aughts.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Collins
97 – Jeremy Roenick
Maybe not the best guy, but a pretty good hockey player. The eighth overall pick in the 1988 NHL draft scored 1,216 points in 1,363 games played.
Honorable Mentions: Bryant Young, Cam Heyward
96 – Cortez Kennedy
Kennedy recorded 58 sacks in his 11 seasons for the Seahawks. He recorded 569 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.
Honorable Mentions: Metta World Peace, Tomas Holmstrom
95 – Richard Dent
A bonafide Hall of Famer who was a part of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the ’85 Bears. What more can you ask for?
Honorable Mentions: N/A
94 – Charles Haley
The defensive centerpiece of two all-time franchises in the Cowboys and 49ers.
Honorable Mention: Demarcus Ware
93 – John Randle
Anyone who goes undrafted in their respective sport and go on to become a Hall of Famer is good enough for this list. Randle made seven Pro Bowls and was a six time first team All-Pro selection en route to Canton.
Honorable Mentions: Pat Neshak, Metta World Peace
92 – Reggie White
“The Minister of Defense” was one of the greatest free agent signings of all time, when he left the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992 and signed with the Green Bay Packers. He finished his career with 198 sacks, two NFL defensive player of the year awards, and a Super Bowl ring.
Honorable Mentions: DeShawn Stevenson, Gabriel Landeskog
91 – Dennis Rodman
An obvious answer for a surprisingly strong number. But Rodman’s five rings, seven NBA All-Defensive first selections, and nearly 12,000 career rebounds puts him on our list.
Honorable Mentions: Kevin Greene, Sergei Fedorov
90 – Ndamukong Suh
Suh has had a late-career number change to 93, but he donned 90 early in his career for the Lions when he was arguable at his best. During his time rocking the big 9-0, Suh was the NFL Rookie of the Year, made four Pro Bowls, and was a three time NFL First Team All-Pro.
Honorable Mention: Ryan O’Reilly
High numbers, a lot of hockey players and defensive lineman, to be expected. Will we have some different sports and positions represented in our next set of jersey numbers, 89-80? Only time will tell.
Baltimore Orioles fans, if there are any of you left…look away.
FanGraphs, who describes themselves as “[y]our home for advanced baseball analysis and stats” released their projections for all 30 MLB team’s chances at making the playoffs in 2021:
Seems fairly benign, right? A few surprises here and there, but check out that last line item on the AL East projections…
Nothing? Not a single chance in the entire world that the Baltimore Orioles make a miracle run to the postseason? Even the Colorado Rockies, who traded away their best player this offseason and share a division with the defending World Series champion Dodgers and most exciting team in baseball in the San Diego Padres, have a 0.1% chance of making it. Zero chance?! Literally absolutely impossible, according to FanGraphs.
The beginning of baseball season is always a great feeling. The weather is warming up around the country, spring training is done, and it’s time to get to the games that count. Hope springs eternal that this year might be the year your team hoists the World Series Trophy. For FanGraphs to just cut the legs out from the baseball community in Baltimore before the season even starts is just brutal. Scientifically proven, but just brutal.
I hope Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, and the other 37 Orioles on the 40-man roster who I’ve never heard of take this disrespect and shove it in FanGraphs face. Use this as motivation to outperform those pesky analytics, show everyone in baseball what you’re truly capable of, and exceed all expectations by losing less than 120 games next season.
If you’re reading this in the midwest, you’re likely experiencing apocalyptic snow. Grab a blanket, stay inside, and enjoy this week’s SSM.
A blockbuster trade in the NFL A rare sight indeed, a cold day in hell Jared Goff and Matt Stafford, a quarterback swap The Rams on their way to the NFC’s hilltop
Another big name on the move this week Nolan Arenado to Cardinals, Card fans freak Nolan does have an opt out option after 2021 The NL Central hoping he’s one and done
The Brooklyn Nets have won four in a row After a slightly slow start, the big three on a roll They’re scoring 126 points per game during this recent hot streak Unless you’re Philly or Milwaukee, in the East it looks bleak