Dear Baseball: Welcome Back, We Love You

Dear Baseball,

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.

Love,

Baseball Fans Everywhere

Who Wore it Best? 89-80

Photo: Dr. Odd

Round two of who wore it best is here. We’re ranking the GOAT to wear each jersey number. If you missed part one for jersey numbers 99-90, check it out here. For now, let’s dive into numbers 89-80.

89 – Mike Ditka

Everyone knows Ditka lead the Bears to their only Super Bowl in ’85. Did you know on the field he was a five time Pro Bowler, first team all-pro four times, and was the rookie of the year in 1961? Ditka also has the number 89 retired for both the Bears and at the University of Pittsburgh.

Honorable Mention: Alexander Mogilny

88 – Patrick Kane

STRONG number here. Kaner takes the crown as a sure fire Hall of Famer with three Stanley Cups, the 2013 Conn Smythe trophy, and nine all-star selections.

Honorable Mentions: Albert Belle, Antoine Walker, Michael Irvin, Allan Page

87 – Sidney Crosby

Crosby has an even stronger resumé than Kane. Two Conn Smythe trophies, two Olympic gold medals, three Stanley Cups, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Honorable Mention: Rob Gronkowski, Dan Otero

86 – Antonio Freeman

Slim pickings at number 86. Antonio Freeman had a respectable NFL career; in 1998 he led the NFL in receiving yards, was named to the Pro Bowl, and was named first team All-Pro. He also tacked on a Super Bowl win in the 96-97 season.

Honorable Mentions: Buck Buchanan, Nikita Kucherov

85 – George Kittle

Photo: ESPN

Kittle hasn’t been in the NFL for too long, but has already done some serious damage. In three and a half seasons (he only played eight games in 2020), Kittle has made two Pro Bowls, was a first team All-Pro in 2019, and has racked up 3,579 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Honorable Mention: Antonio Gates, Baron Davis

84 – Randy Moss

One of the best athletes to ever play wide receiver. Moss has unreal runs with the Vikings from 98-04 and Patriots from 07-10. He lead the NFL in touchdowns in five different seasons, was a four time first team All-Pro, and is a member of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Honorable Mentions: Prince Fielder, Chris Webber

83 – Wes Welker

Unreal bad luck for Wes Welker that he played six seasons with Tom Brady and two with Peyton Manning and has exactly zero Super Bowl rings. He did however revolutionize the slot receiver position, collecting two first team All-Pro selections and leading the NFL in receptions in 2007, 2009, and 2011.

Honorable Mention: N/A

82 – Ozzie Newsome

Photo: FanDuel

Ozzie Newsome was one of the first tight ends to stretch the field; he paved the way for the Gronks, Kelces, and Ertzs of the world that we see in the NFL today. He is a member of the Browns Ring of Honor, bringing in 662 catches, almost 8,000 yards, and 47 touchdowns during his career.

Honorable Mention: N/A

81 – Marian Hossa

Our second Blackhawk to crack the list. Hossa was a huge part of the Chicago’s three Stanley Cups in the 2010’s. He also was named to the All-Rookie team in 1999 and made five All-Star games.

Honorable Mentions: Tim Brown, Phil Kessel

80 – Jerry Rice

Photo: USA Today

No doubter here; the original GOAT. The career accomplishments are almost embarrassing: three Super Bowls, ten first team All-Pro, 13 Pro Bowls, member of the 75th and 100th NFL Anniversary Teams, and first team All-80’s and All-90’s Teams. Rice’s career stats are also zany: 1,549 catches, 23,546 yards, and 208 touchdowns.

Honorable Mention: N/A

Heavy football and hockey vibes in this edition. We’ll crack into the 70’s in our next edition of Who Wore It Best.

Best Traditions in Sports

Being a sports fan is one of the best things in the world. Putting your time, effort, and hope into something completely out of your control lets us as fans experience the highest highs and the lowest lows. Another great part of being a fan of a team is the traditions. This could be anything from a certain chant at a game, a simple “Go ____” when you see a stranger wearing your team’s gear out in public, or throwing out a hashtag on social media when the game starts to show support.

But what are the best traditions we’ve seen? In no particular order…

Notre Dame: Play Like a Champion Today

Photo: HuffPost

Say what you will about Notre Dame, this sign is great. Simple, succinct, and certainly motivational. Each of the Irish football players gives a quick tap to the sign before taking the field. The origins of this sign are a bit hazy, but former coach Lou Holtz reinstated the sign placement while he was head coach and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Sausage Race

In the early 1990’s, The Brewers began this gag as a virtual race on their scoreboard. Originally, it was only a three way race between Bratwurst, Polish, and Italian. In the mid-90’s, Hot Dog made his debut. The lineup became complete in 2006, when Chorizo was installed into the competition. Rumors have swirled that actual Brewer players have donned a sausage suit from time to time to join in on the festivities.

The Ohio State University: Dotting the I

At the end of every pregame performance from Ohio State’s marching band, they write out “Ohio” in script, as seen above. The ultimate honor for a marching Buckeye is to “dot the I.” The honor is typically reserved for an upperclassman sousaphone player, and was first performed in 1936.

Kentucky Derby: Call To Post

Can’t you hear this picture? Let me try and get phonetic here, it goes something like this:

Du-du-du-DU-DU-DU-du-du-du-du-DUH-DUH-DUUUUUH
Du-du-du-DU-DU-DU-DUT-DUT-DU-DU-du-DUUUUHHHH
Du-du-du-DU-DU-DU-du-du-du-du-DUH-DUH-DUUUUUH
Du-du-du-DU-DU-DU-DUT-DUT-DU-DU-du-DUUUUHHHH

This magic little diddy always gets me so jacked up, and makes me losing my annual Trifecta bet a little easier to accept.

The University of Iowa: The Wave

Self-imposed bias here, but this one might be one of the best traditions we have in sports today. Starting in 2017, after a social media suggestion, Iowa fans turned and waved to the patients at the top floor of Children’s Hospital overlooking Kinnick Stadium at the end of every first quarter. The kids often make signs and messages to put on the windows in a response to the fan’s wave.

It’s a truly moving tradition, and if you haven’t had the chance to participate or see it live, here’s a great example.

Chicago Bulls: Player Introductions

The slow building theme song, terrible CGI Bulls running through Chicago landmarks, Benny the Bull waving the Bulls flag at center court, absolutely iconic. If you were a team visiting The United Center in the 90’s, you were basically down by 10 as soon you heard this song come over the loud speakers. Unfortunately, the Bulls continued using this intro after the Jordan era, kind of watering down the tradition. This is one that should have been retired as soon as MJ, Phil, and the dynasty as we all knew it left town (speaking of the end of the Jordan era, if you haven’t checked out our review of “The Last Dance,” check it out here).

Touching a sign, blowing a horn, or simply waving a hand. All things that would seem to be normal activities. But when they are included in sports, these simple tasks can take on a whole new meaning that can be appreciated by competitors and fans alike. There are thousands of sports traditions out there, which ones did we miss?