The Official UDS 2022 Baseball Preview

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.

AL East

  1. Toronto Blue Jays – Gregg Zaun, C
  2. Boston Red Sox – Trot Nixon, RF
  3. Tampa Bay Rays – Miguel Cairo, 2B
  4. New York Yankees – Scott Brosius, 3B
  5. Baltimore Orioles – Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B

AL Central

  1. Chicago White Sox – José Valentín, 3B
  2. Minnesota Twins – Matt Lawton, CF
  3. Cleveland Guardians – Carlos Baerga, 2B
  4. Detroit Tigers – José Macías, 3B
  5. Kansas City Royals – Mark Grudzielanek, 2B

AL West

  1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Scott Spiezio, 1B
  2. Houston Astros – Julio Lugo, SS
  3. Seattle Mariners – Mike Cameron, CF
  4. Texas Rangers – Royce Clayton, SS
  5. Oakland A’s – Matt Stairs, DH

NL East

  1. Philadelphia Phillies – Mickey Morandini, 2B
  2. Atlanta Braves – Ryan Klesko, RF
  3. New York Mets – Benny Agbayani, LF
  4. Miami Marlins – Hee-Seop Choi, 1B
  5. Washington Nationals – José Vidro, 2B

NL Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals – Fernando Vina, 2B
  2. Milwaukee Brewers – Jeromy Burnitz, RF
  3. Chicago Cubs – Ron Coomer, 3B
  4. Cincinnati Reds – Pokey Reese, 2B
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Womack, SS

NL West

  1. Colorado Rockies – Dante Bichette, RF
  2. San Francisco Giants – Benito Santiago, C
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers – César Izturis, SS
  4. San Diego Padres – Mark Kotsay, CF
  5. 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.

Brian Cashman Has Great Excuse for One Year of the Yankees Thirteen Year World Series Drought

The Yankees have earned their arrogance. They view themselves as the best organization in the history of baseball, and the may be right. They have 27 World Series championships, 16 more than The St. Louis Cardinals, who come in second with 11.

A once proud franchise was embarrassed by their longtime SVP and GM on Thursday.

Speaking to The Athletic, Cashman said: “The only thing that stopped [the 2017 Yankees] was something that was so illegal and horrific…[s]o I get offended when I start hearing we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09. Because I’m like, ‘Well, I think we actually did it the right way.’ Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off.”

So, we’re going with the cheating excuse, to explain one year of a 13 year drought…got it.

Cashman’s concocted vindication of his inability to deliver New York a championship (in what is a long period for them) is obvious at best, and dense at worst. Buddy, you more often than not have a bottomless pit of cash to buy your championships. Since 2010, the Yankees have been top three in Opening Day payroll every single year other than 2018, when they were seventh.

The Astros were cheating against everyone in 2017, not just the Yankees. Everyone’s hit with injuries, the ball bounces the wrong way for everyone. So save the crocodile tears, add a few zero’s to some contracts, and purchase yourself another trophy, just like the Yankee way dictates.

Who Wore it Best? 9-0

Photo: Dr. Odd

What a long, strange journey it’s been. We started all the way at 99, and have now arrived at our final edition of “Who Wore It Best?” Single digits can be tough, but we’re up for the challenge.

9 – Gordie Howe

Photo: Pinterest

I mean, “Mr. Hockey” has to make the list, right? Howe’s career spanned nearly 40 years, in which he won four Stanley Cups, six Hart Trophies, and appeared in the All-Star game 23 times.

Honorable Mentions: Ted Williams, Drew Brees, Bobby Hull, Mike Modano

8 – Kobe Bryant

Photo: Newsday

Maybe the closest we’ll ever get to MJ. We all know Kobe ended his career rocking 24, but he was great enough to take the eight cake. He spent his entire 20 year career with the Lakers, in which he won five NBA Championships, the 2008 MVP, and made 11 All-NBA First Teams.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Morgan, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken Jr., Yogi Berra, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Alexander Ovechkin

7 – John Elway

The greatest player who was a doppelgänger of their team mascot. But that’s not the only reason Elway makes our list. He held the “couldn’t win the big one” tag his entire career, until he shut everyone up and won back-to-back Super Bowls his last two seasons in the NFL. Even if he wouldn’t have won the two Lombardis, Elway racked up an MVP, nine Pro Bowl selections, and passing title in 1993.

Honorable Mentions: Mickey Mantle, Phil Esposito

6 – Bill Russell

Photo: Photos.com

The man who ran out of fingers for all of his championship rings. Russell won five MVPs, was a four time rebounding champion, and a member of the NBA’s 25th, 35th, and 50th Anniversary Teams.

Honorable Mention: Stan Musial

5 – Albert Pujols

Photo: LA Times

We’ve shown our appreciation for The Machine on this blog before. Pujols’ first 11 years in St. Louis were enough to get the guy in the Hall of Fame. His time with the Angels and Dodgers, while not as great, hasn’t done anything to diminish that. His approximate career numbers have him as a .300 hitter, closing in on 700 home runs, and well over 3,000 hits.

Honorable Mentions: Joe DiMaggio, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Kevin Garnett, Donovan McNabb

4 – Lou Gherig

Next to Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig was the best player on the Yankees during their incredible run in the 20’s and 30’s. Gherig was a part of six World Series championships, was a two time MVP, and won the Triple Crown in 1934.

Honorable Mentions: Brett Favre, Adam Vinatieri, Bobby Orr

3 – Babe Ruth

Keeping it young and fresh with back to back 1920’s Yankees. This one’s a no doubter though; Shohei Ohtaini before Shohei Ohtani. At the plate, The Great Bambino hit 714 home runs, slugged .690, and ended his career with an 1.164 OPS. On the mound, The Colossus of Clout went 94-46, with a 2.28 ERA, and threw 107 complete games.

Honorable Mention: Allen Iverson

2 – Derek Jeter

Christ, enough with the Yankees already. Jeets is an easy choice in a not extremely tough field. The recent Hall of Fame inductee wrapped up an illustrious career with a very succinct five World Series rings, Gold Gloves, and Silver Slugger Awards, as well as 14 All-Star appearances.

Honorable Mention: David Akers, Brian Leetch

1 – Ozzie Smith

Photo: MLB

The best defensive shortstop of all time, and possibly best overall defender ever. Smith won 13 Gold Gloves in 19 seasons. Along the way, he was a part of the 1982 World Series Championship Cardinal team, made 15 All-Star games, and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Honorable Mention: Warren Moon

0 – Russell Westbrook

A nice, easy choice to get us to the finish line; not a whole lot of competition at the zero spot. The 2017 MVP is a nine time All-Star, two time All-NBA First Teamer, and is essentially a walking triple double.

Honorable Mention: N/A

We made it, friends. All the way from 99 down to 0. We laughed, we cried, and made some friends along the way. This was a fun project to complete and remember some names that haven’t been brought up in a while. Hopefully this was as interesting to read as it was to write. Who knows what our next series will be…stay tuned.

Sunday State of Mind: November 1st-November 7th

Photo: PBS

The colors are changing, but the sports world is not. We look back at the week that was in this week’s SSM.

World Series Champs, your Atlanta Braves
A bonus Astros loss, what baseball fans crave
A total random champ in the MLB
Finally Atlanta fans filled with major glee

Bad week for the Bills, lost to the Jags
No TD’s on either side, not riches but rags
Real life Spiderman meme, two Josh Allens
Final score of 9-6, two teams with no talons

Speaking of bad weeks, Odell Beckham Junior
Got divorced from the Browns, should’ve happened sooner
OBJ got his wish, went and got waived
Time for a new team, and a path to be paved

Aaron friggin’ Rodgers, what a wild week
Talked on McAfee’s show, one hell of a streak
He missed this week in KC, after a positive test
For COVID 19, needs a PR life vest

More bad PR, from the NBA
Two awful owners, who maybe just might pay
For their terrible actions, probably time to go
The Suns and The Blazers, both guys really blow

Sunday State of Mind: October 25th-October 31st

A spooky, after dark edition of SSM this week. We take a scary hayrack ride through the week that was in the sports world.

Those scrappy bad guy Astros, just keep hangin’ ’round
The Braves could have been World Series champs, no king yet has been crowned
Atlanta still up 3-2, one more win on the way?
They’ll get a chance to become champs this coming Tuesday

The Jets have won a game! What a New Jersey dream
Even more impressive, they beat a first place team
Tough loss for the Bengals, hopefully a minor stop
In what would be a great season while rising to the top

Sticking in the AFC East, but opposite result
Dolphins lose their seventh straight, total football insult
The Bills bounce back for a win, after a Monday loss
Come playoff time, Bills Mafia will not be crossed

The NBA is in full swing, the sports world has no lulls
The Eastern Conference has been surprising: Knicks, Hornets, and Bulls
Out in the Western Conference, Clippers are 1-4
Hope it will get better, a start the Clips ignore

Got an in state battle, down in East Lansing
Sparty came out, beat big brother, totally did their thing
A tough loss for Michigan, but they’re still top 10
Another ranked opponent beating Jim Harbaugh again

A really tough two weeks for Iowa football
Number two two weeks ago, since then been all fall
After losing to Wisconsin, another unranked foe
Hawkeyes fall to number 19, there their playoff dreams go

Caleb Williams and the Sooners, rolled up Texas Tech
Six touchdowns through the air, Red Raiders saying “what the heck?”
Incredible start to a career, the young man is a battler
Continues to be special and play over Spencer Rattler

Sunday State of Mind: October 11th-October 17th

We are in the thick of October. What does that mean? Football, baseball, basketball, and hockey are all getting in gear. We review the week that was in the latest Sunday State of Mind.

Bears and Packers, for the hundredth year
That’s plenty of deep dish, cheese, and beer
Green Bay won again, their fourth in a row
Ten point loss for the Bears, they continue to blow

Another game in foggy London-town
Dolphins and Jags, and the Fins go down!
Jacksonville wins for the first time in ever
Twenty game losing streak now gone forever

The Chicago Sky, crown the queens!
Championship blood in all of their genes
Kahleah Copper lead the way
The Sky are the champs of the WNBA

Four teams left in the MLB rave
Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, and Braves
A quartet of skilled teams are baseball’s last tenants
Only two will advance and win their league’s pennants

Sunday State of Mind: October 4th-October 10th

We saw anything and everything this week in sports. We look back fondly in the latest edition of Sunday State of Mind.

A rarely seen building raid, in the NFL
Washington Football Team, what in the actual hell?
Head trainer got busted, DEA involved
Wonder what the charges are, once this all gets solved

Another rarity in sports, a big time title fight
Fury/Wilder III, a boxing fan’s delight
Fury did his job, retained the title belt
A crushing blow to Wilder, to whom defeat was dealt

Number three vs. number four, in college football
Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes, big defensive brawl
Iowa losing early, came back from down 14
Huge win over PSU, a storming the field scene

Another storming happened, down in College Station
Texas A&M pulled the upset for Aggie Nation
Such a rarity to see Alabama lose
Anytime it happens it’s legit breaking news

Playoff time in baseball, division series round
Most series are tight, good matchups can be found
At the time of writing, only the White Sox down 2-0
Getting swept after their year would be a major blow

Who Wore it Best? 19-10

Photo: Dr. Odd

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

Photo: CBS

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

Photo: Fansided

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

Photo: Esquire

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

Photo: Time

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

Photo: SB Nation

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

Photo: Amazon

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.”

Who Wore it Best? 29-20

Photo: Dr. Odd

We’ve arrived at an incredibly important edition of “Who Wore It Best.” In our latest, we’re digging into the roaring 20’s. Let’s find out together who made the cut in this extremely paramount, career-defining list.

29 – Eric Dickerson

Photo: SB Nation

His athletic excellence barely surpassed that of the rec specs. Dickerson put together the greatest single season rushing the football in 1984, going for an NFL record 2,105 yards. He wasn’t just a one season wonder, however. Before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, Dickerson was a five time first team All-Pro, four time rushing leader, has his number 29 retired by the LA Rams, and is in the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor.

Honorable Mentions: Adrian Beltre, Ken Dryden, Marc-André Fleury

28 – Marshall Faulk

Back to back running backs who played for the Rams and Colts. Much like Dickerson, Faulk both has his number retired by the Rams as well as being a member of the Colts Ring of Honor. Unlike Dickerson, Faulk has a Super Bowl ring. He also tacked on a MVP, three offensive player of the year awards, as well as three first team All-Pro selections.

Honorable Mentions: Bert Blyleven, Curtis Martin, Darrell Green

27 – Vladimir Guerrero Sr.

Photo: SB Nation

Vlad the Impaler was a 2018 Hall of Fame inductee. He earned his spot in Cooperstown after winning the 2004 MVP, hitting 449 career home runs while maintaining a .318 career batting average, and winning an incredible eight Silver Slugger awards.

Honorable Mentions: Eddie George, Scott Rolen

26 – Rod Woodson

Photo: SB Nation

Rod Woodson was one of the best ball hawks to ever do it; picking off 71 balls in his 17 NFL seasons. He was also a vital member of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens. All of this (and more) cumulated in an induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Honorable Mention: Wade Boggs

25 – Barry Bonds

Photo: CNN

Even before he went to the Giants and things…changed; Barry Bonds was one of the greatest players in baseball. In his seven seasons in Pittsburgh before moving to San Francisco, Bonds was a three time NL MVP, won five Gold Gloves, and five Silver Slugger awards.

Honorable Mention: Fred Biletnikoff

24 – Willie Mays

Photo: Pinterest

Absolute stacked number here, but Mays takes the cake. The stats are gawdy; 660 home runs, 1,903 RBI, and 338 stolen bases. Along the way Mays made 24 All-Star games, won twelve Gold Gloves, two NL MVPs, and a World Series in 1954.

Honorable Mentions: Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Ramirez, Rick Barry, Champ Bailey, Chris Chelios

23 – Michael Jordan

Photo: Yardbarker

Next question.

Honorable Mentions: LeBron James, Ryne Sandberg, Devin Hester

22 – Emmitt Smith

Photo: USA Today

Emmitt Smith did it all in his 15 NFL seasons. The league’s all time leading rusher (18,355 yards) won three Super Bowls, the 1993 NFL MVP, was a four time first team All-Pro, and lead the NFL in touchdowns three separate seasons.

Honorable Mentions: Clayton Kershaw, Elgin Baylor, Roger Clemens

21 – Deion Sanders

Photo: SFGate

The swagiest swag that ever swagged. Deion was, and still is, one of the most raw athletes we’ve ever seen. He wasn’t too bad on the field either. Prime’s got two Super Bowl rings, six first team All-Pro selections, and is a member of both the 90’s All-Decade and NFL 100th Anniversary Teams. Oh, and he also played in the MLB for nine seasons. He was a .263 career hitter, with 39 home runs, 168 RBI, and 186 stolen bases. Absolute baller.

Honorable Mentions: Roberto Clemente, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, LaDainian Tomlinson, Stan Mikita, Peter Forsberg

20 – Barry Sanders

Photo: Giant Bomb

The twitchiest running back we’ve ever seen, just absolutely stupid stuff. A combo Heisman winner and NFL MVP, the four time first team All-Pro ran for over 15,000 yards and almost 100 touchdowns. Pretty good for a guy who retired early.

Honorable Mentions: Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Payton, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins

The numbers get lower, and the lists get better. How about 24 and 21 just absolutely cleaning house? All four major sports represented on each. This was a great edition of “Who Wore It Best,” and we can only assume the names will get hotter the next time around.

Who Wore it Best? 39-30

Photo: Dr. Odd

We’re sadly on the downhill turn of “Who Wore It Best.” In this edition, we get into the 30’s.

39 – Dominik Hašek

Photo: NHL.com

Hot start for hockey! Hašek was one of the greatest goaltenders to ever do it. His career spanned four decades (1980-2011), and included two Stanley Cups, two Hart Memorial trophies, and six Vezina trophies.

Honorable Mention: Larry Csonka

38 – Pavol Demitra

Demitra seemed to be on track to becoming one of the best Czech players in the game. He recorded 768 points in 847 games before sadly passing in a plane accident in 2011.

Honorable Mention: N/A

37 – Patrice Bergeron

Photo: CBS Sports

Bergeron has been a steady force for the Bruins since 2003. A part of the 2011 Stanley Cup winning team, Bergeron also made All-Star games in 2015 and 2016.

Honorable Mention: N/A

36 – Jerome Bettis

“The Bus” comes rumblin’, stumblin’, bumblin’ onto our list at 36. Bettis won a Super Bowl (in his home town of Detroit), was a two time first team All-Pro, and made six Pro Bowls.

Honorable Mention: Gaylord Perry

35 – Kevin Durant

An easy choice for what ended up being a stacked slot. Durant is potentially (based on how much you love/hate Lebron) currently the best basketball player on the planet. In a career with plenty of years left, Durant has already put together an incredible resume. The Slim Reaper has two NBA titles (Finals MVP in both), a regular season MVP, six first team All-NBA selections, and 11 All-Star appearances.

Honorable Mentions: Phil Niekro, Frank Thomas, Aeneas Williams, Tony Esposito

34 – Shaquille O’Neal

Another loaded number of selections here, but the most dominant big man of all time takes the cake. The Big Diesel’s career accolades are almost too much to list: four NBA championships, three NBA Finals MVPs, fifteen All-Star games, and eight first team All-NBA selections.

Honorable Mentions: Nolan Ryan, Kerry Wood, Hakeem Olajuwon, Walter Payton, Thurman Thomas, Earl Campbell

33 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

For as much good as Kareem has done off the court, he was as great on it. Six rings, a matching number of MVPs, 10 first team All-NBA selections, five first team All-Defensive teams, and lead the NBA in blocks in four separate seasons.

Honorable Mentions: Eddie Murray, Scottie Pippen, Zdeno Chára, Henrik Sedin, Dustin Byfuglien

32 – Magic Johnson

Photo: Curbed

We all know how good Magic was as a player. For as good as he was on the court, he may have found his true life’s calling as a hot take artist.

Honorable Mentions: Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Marcus Allen, Jim Brown

31 – Greg Maddux

Photo: Taddlr

Maddux is the second of the 90’s Braves big three to make the list, with Tom Glavine making the cut at 47. Mad Dog ended his 22 year career with 355 wins, 18 Gold Gloves, and four Cy Youngs.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Miller

30 – Terrell Davis

Probably going to be our shortest career to make the list. Davis only played in the NFL from 1995-2001, but was good enough to make the Hall of Fame in 2017. In seven seasons, he racked up two Super Bowls, an MVP, and three first team All-Pro selections.

Honorable Mentions: Tim Raines, Martin Brodeur

The 30’s were by far our most expansive edition yet. Huge names and the honorable mention lists were incredible, specifically 32-35. One can only assume the list is going to keep improving into the 20’s.