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.
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
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.”
There’s no better feeling than seeing an old friend, and boy do we have that feeling now. Who Wore It Best is back, and we’ve made it into the 40’s.
49 – Ron Guidry
Guidry had an above average 14 year career with the Yankees. He won 170 games, two World Series rings, and the 1978 Cy Young. That same year, he went 25-3, threw 16 complete games, and notched a stellar 6.1 hits per nine innings.
Honorable Mention: N/A
48 – Daryl “Moose” Johnston
Not exactly a selection based off of stats. “Moose” lead the way as Emmitt Smith’s fullback en route to three Super Bowls in the 90’s.
Honorable Mention: Rick Reuschel
47 – Tom Glavine
Glavine was a part of one of the strongest pitching rotations in baseball – the 90’s Braves with Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. He won 305 games, a World Series, and two Cy Young awards.
Honorable Mention: John Lynch
46 – Andy Pettitte
Not a lot of talent to pick from at 46, but Pettitte will do. He won five World Series trophies with the Yankees, notched 256 W’s, and made three All-Star games. He also had that pesky PED issue but…ya know.
Honorable Menions: N/A
45 – Pedro Martínez
Going against our better judgement here and not choosing MJ; he may just show up later. Pedro is a flawless choice at this slot: the member of the 2015 Hall of Fame class won a World Series, three Cy Youngs, made eight All-Star games, and lead the MLB in ERA in five different seasons.
Honorable Mention: Bob Gibson
44 – Hank Aaron
An absolute jam packed category at 44. Hammerin’ Hank won the World Series with the Braves in 1957, won three Gold Gloves, two batting titles, and made the All-Star game TWENTY FIVE times…yes, that is not a typo.
Honorable Mentions: Jerry West, John Riggins, Chris Pronger
43 – Troy Polamalu
Polamalu was a shutdown safety for the Steelers from 2003-2014. He won two Super Bowls, was the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and was a four time First Team All-Pro.
Honorable Mention: Dennis Eckersley
42 – Jackie Robinson
Another no doubter here. Robinson makes the list for breaking the color barrier alone. On top of that, he was a hell of a great player; a World Series champion, MVP, batting champion, and Rookie of the Year.
Honorable Mention: Ronnie Lott
41 – Dirk Nowitzki
One in a few of the last batch of superstars to stay with one team their entire career. In his 21 seasons in Dallas, Dirk lead the Mavericks to their only NBA title, was the 2007 MVP, and was a four time first team All-NBA selection.
Honorable Mention: Tom Seaver
40 – Gale Sayers
Sayers makes the cut after only five full seasons for the Bears, with injury cutting short what could have been an incredible and long career. In his short time in the NFL, he still managed to be a five time first team All-Pro, lead the NFL in rushing twice, and earned a spot on the NFL’s 50th, 75th, and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
Honorable Mentions: Shawn Kemp, Mike Alstott, Henrik Zetterberg
Wow…who knew the 40’s would be so strong? Baseball really held its own here, pitchers specifically. Poor showing by the NBA here, even worse by the NHL. Maybe they’ll recover in the 30’s? Only time will tell.
The dog days are over, the dog days are done, and “Who Wore it Best” has returned. In this edition, we’re checking out the GOATs of the 50’s.
59 – London Fletcher
One of the most underrated players in NFL history. Fletcher racked up 2,031 tackles, four Pro Bowls, and a Super Bowl ring in 16 seasons. He also never missed a game, which is incredible considering the beating an NFL linebacker takes season in and season out.
Honorable Mentions: Luke Kuechly, Carlos Carrasco, Jack Ham
58 – Jack Lambert
This man was MEAN. One of the stalwarts in the Steel Curtain Defense of the 70’s, Lambert racked up pretty much any award that was available. Six time first team All-Pro, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Papelbon
57 – Johan Santana
Johan Santana had some nasty stuff. Over his 12 year career, he won 139 games while maintaining a career 3.20 ERA, was a two-time Cy Young winner, and tacked on a Gold Glove in 2007. “No-han” threw an unbelievable 134-pitch no hitter in 2012.
Honorable Mention: Rickey Jackson
56 – Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor was an absolute DAWG. We’ve gushed over LT in previous blogs, but he’s that good that we’re going to do it again. Two Super Bowls, an MVP, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and eight first team All-Pros are just a fraction of what Taylor accomplished over his incredible career.
Honorable Mention: Mark Buehrle
55 – Dikembe Mutombo
Dikembe Mutombo was way more than his infamous finger wag; he was a defensive stud. Mutombo lead the NBA in blocks three times and rebounds twice. He made eight All-Star games, won Defensive Player of the Year four times, and has his number retired by two different franchises in the Nuggets and Hawks.
Honorable Mentions: Junior Seau, Orel Hershiser
54 – Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher was the epitome of a Chicago Bears middle linebacker. He played his entire 13-year career in Chicago; tallying 1,361 tackles, two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, and four first team All-Pros. The eight time Pro Bowler was also named to the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team. Honorable Mentions: Goose Gossage, Horace Grant, Randy White, Zach Thomas
53 – Artis Gilmore
Artis Gilmore was a stud in both the ABA and NBA. If you combine his career between both leagues, he was the Rookie of the Year, an MVP, made 11 All-Star games, and scored a shade under 25,000 points.
Honorable Mentions: Bobby Abreu, Mick Tingelhoff
52 – Ray Lewis
Say what you will about the overzealous speeches, or don’t say anything about the off field issues, but Ray Lewis could flat out ball. Two Super Bowls (including MVP in one), two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, and a seven time first team All-Pro.
Honorable Mentions: CC Sabathia, Patrick Willis, Clay Matthews
51 – Randy Johnson
The Big Unit! Easily one of the most dominant pitchers we’ve seen. Johnson ended his 22-year career with a 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 303 wins, a perfect game, one no hitter, five Cy Young trophies, and was the MVP of one of the biggest World Series upsets when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in 2001.
Honorable Mention: Dick Butkus
50 – David Robinson
The very rare story of a service academy athlete becoming one of the best to do it in professional sports. Robinson reached the rank of lieutenant during his three years of service in the Navy, a great achievement. He wasn’t a bad basketball player either; in three separate seasons he lead the NBA in points, rebounds, and blocks. The Admiral also won Rookie of the Year, MVP, and two championships.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Singletary, Corey Crawford
A lot of solid athletes in the 50’s; strong showing by football and baseball. A severe lack of hockey here; will they recover in the 40’s? We’ll have to wait and see…
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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:
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?