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.
This morning, news broke that Theo Epstein would be stepping down as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, effective immediately. Epstein joined the Cubs in October 2011, and completely transformed an organization known for being long time losers into consistent post season appearances, success, and of course, World Series champions.
Epstein noted in his press conference this afternoon that the original plan was to transition out of his position in October 2021. However, with important roster and organizational decisions coming this offseason, he believed it best that those who would be with the Cubs longer-term should be making those decisions.
The now former President of Baseball Operations has always maintained that 10 years is about the maximum he would ever stay at job, and he is holding true to his word. In his presser this afternoon, he noted there was “no sense of burnout. I enjoy building, transformation, and accomplishing. Maybe I’m not as great at maintenance. After a while, I need a new challenge, and with the Cubs in a state of change with the roster, it felt like the right time.”
This sucks. Epstein has been the face of the Cubs for the past nine years. His list of accomplishments and the stories that have come out of his tenure is as impressive as it is long. I watched the press conference this morning, and wanted to outline some of the best moments and quotes.
When asked about his overall feelings about his time with the Cubs: “A life changing experience, the best part being the relationships and connections I’ve made along the way.” Epstein continued “Our goals were to build a foundation of sustained success and build a team that would win a World Series for the Chicago Cubs. It was not perfect, but we did it.”
Describing Cubs fans: “The depth of the connection with the fans, how intimate and easily shared…is really is different here, thanks to [the fans]. Right as we started to turn the corner, walking home from a game, I could ease drop on conversations that were so optimistic, it was such a special time. The lines between fans, team, and front office members were blurred. We all knew what was going to happen before it did.”
On the 2016 World Series victory:“Such a privilege to run into strangers and hear what the World Series meant to them.”
Jed Hoyer, current Cubs General Manger, will take over as the new President of Baseball Operations. Hoyer joined the Cubs with Theo initially as GM, and has more than earned this promotion. Epstein believes he is leaving the Cubs in incredibly able hands: “[Hoyer] ensures great continuity, and is also realistic in ways we need to change and get better” he said.
Additionally, Theo ensured Cubs fans that Hoyer “does not need me over his shoulder…he is ready, willing, and able.” He supported his claim by giving an anecdote on the now famous trade with the Baltimore Orioles that brought a struggling Jake Arrieta to the North Side, and as we now all know, to the MLB Awards stage as the 2015 Cy Young Award winner. Epstein said that Hoyer kept “banging the table” for an additional throw in on the trade, saying that the throw in must be included in the trade or the Cubs would walk away from the trading table. That throw in at the time, was a relief pitcher with a woeful career 4.82 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. That “meaningless” throw in was named Pedro Stop, who like Arrieta, resureccted his career in Chicago to become one of the best relief pitchers in team history.
This, and many other reasons, has Epstein feeling confident that the Cubs are in great long term shape as he proceeds with a peaceful transfer of power. Epstein noted that while he anticipates he will eventually return to baseball, for now, he and his family will continue to live in Chicago, and be Cubs season ticket holders moving moving forward. He noted that now he can enjoy the bleacher bum experience, and when he does, “it will feel like home.”
While this is a sad day, I also cannot help but feel happy. This nine-year stretch has been the best in Cubs history, and I feel lucky to have been able to see it from the foundation to the peak of baseball. Thank you, Theo Epstein, for putting all that you did into the organization for as long as you did, and bringing Cubs fans like me success that we only dreamt of before you came to Chicago.
Fall is here, friends. The leaves have changed, the sweaters have been donned, and the clocks have moved back. Let’s all get comfortable and enjoy this week’s SSM.
Tua Time in Miami, the rookie made his debut A surprise win over the Rams, the Dolphins feel anew Tua didn’t have a big game, or put up many stats But if the Dolphins keep winning, they’ll no longer be AFC East cellar rats
We crowned a new World Series champ this week, the Dodgers from LA Emerged victorious over the Rays of Tampa Bay A lot of talk on the internet on the decisions of Kevin Cash If he kept Blake Snell in longer, it could be the Rays throwing the championship bash
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson’s long-haired quarterback Tested positive for COVID, by the disease he’s been sacked The best QB in the NCAA missed this week’s game It was also announced he’ll miss Clemson’s next contest against Notre Dame
This week the Chicago Cubs declined Jon Lester’s option for 2021 Unless he’s brought back on a cheaper deal, his time with the Cubs is done Big Jon did something very cool this weekend, something very dear He’s buying the entire city of Chicago their first rounds of beer
We took a bit of a break from SSM last week. We couldn’t be more excited to return, please enjoy.
Dodgers and Rays, not even here To talk about tonight’s game, because Saturday was so weird Game Four ended with two errors and a slip It was so insane, an absolute trip
A sentence I thought I would never say Things aren’t going great with the Patriot Way Three picks for Cam, and a loss to San Francisco After all their success, hard to feel bad for New England Massholes
Big 10 Football is back, and we had a wild one Indiana beat Penn State on a last second run The call was so close, and was impossible to call How can you not love college football?
On the flip side of college football, Jaylen Waddle Sadly fractured his ankle while going full throttle Another week one star, Badger QB Graham Mertz Tested positive for COVID, both injuries must hurt
SSM after dark! Some late night sports poetry to send you into your week.
We’ve crowned a new champ, The Lakers have won LeBron, AD, and the squad made sure The Heat were done With the win comes the end of the NBA bubble King James lead the way with a series winning triple double
Huge comeback story in the NFL Alex Smith is back, that’s a buy, not a sell Even if his team lost, him being back was a great scene A rare feel good story for The Washington Football Team
Opposite Alex Smith, poor Dak Prescott His seasons over, and the ankle’s shot If you haven’t seen the video, I would suggest not The pressure on Jerry Jones now has to feel quite hot
Moving on to the MLB The bracket’s down to four teams to see Who will take home the World Series Trophy Since it won’t be The Cubs, it doesn’t matter to me
Sunday, it’s here…so is this week’s SSM. Let’s hop in:
Last week of baseball, wrapping as we speak The MLB made it through, and reached their seasons’s peak The postseason starts next week, will be a wild story To see who takes home the COVID World Series Trophy
The NBA is winding down, Lakers took out the Nugs The Heat and Celts could be done soon, makes me sadly shrug Either way, it’ll be the Lakers and LeBron A few more games and before you know it, the NBA will be gone
The NHL is also close to closing out their year The Lightning and Stars are wrapping up, with their grown out playoff beards If the Lightning win on Monday, they’ll be hoisting up Lord Stanley If the Stars pull it out, we’re talking game 7, the cup won’t be won handily
Your NFL surprise of the year, the Chicago Bears Moved to 3-0 today, and this writer cares Trubisky was benched, Nick Foles was the hero Who would’ve thought after three weeks the Bears losses would be at zero?
For those of you who don’t remember, the Houston Astros got in to some trouble this offseason after being outed as sign-stealing cheaters who legitimately stole a World Series from the Dodgers in 2017. They have, appropriately, been mocked beyond repute. One of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow is @AsteriskTour, the 2020 Astros Shame Tour, go follow now if you haven’t yet (also, follow @untimed_down while you’re there). Unless you’re on the Astros roster, or a fan with your head in the sand, most of us agree that the Astros have everything that’s coming to them this season.
This is where our hero, Joe Kelly comes in. Last night, the Dodgers played the Astros for the first time this season, and Kelly took it upon himself to show his displeasure. After falling behind 3-0 to Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, one of the most defiant Astros in the cheating scandal, Kelly buzzed one high and tight right past Bregman’s dome for ball four. After Bregman went to first, Kelly fired two pickoff attempts that, if not caught by Dodgers first basemen Max Muncy, would have caught Bregman square in the ribcage. The unwritten rules of baseball were in full affect.
The Dodgers reliever wasn’t done at that point. Kelly later faced Carlos Correa, who was as, if not more defiant than Bregman in response to the cheating scandal. Correa got a breaking ball thrown over his head before being struck out by Kelly. The post-strike period is where the fun began.
From the aforementioned @AsteriskTour Twitter feed:
The tongue, the pouty face, the “shut the fuck up” to end the performance. It’s all perfect. Mockery at the highest level to the biggest villain in sports today.
All of this eventually lead to “benches clearing,” which is usually pretty weak in general when it comes to baseball. However, with COVID rules in the MLB this season, any chance of any actual fights happening is even lower, so it’s all worthless. I’m just glad Joe Kelly stepped up, did his duty as a Dodger, and made the first of what I can only assume will be many spectacles of beaning Astros this season.
Edit: right after publishing this blog, the MLB announced Kelly has been suspended for eight games. CBS Baseball Writer Danny Vietti put things into prespective: