The most recent discussions and current events in MLB have us all soured a little bit, but let’s not let that distract us from what was a very pleasant surprise of a 2020 season. I was admittedly more than a little skeptical when it started, but what potentially could have been some combination of a joke or a disaster, turned out to be a very fun and enjoyable season to watch with some promising developments for the future.
Yes unfortunately, we’re all going to be talking about Kevin Cash for a long time. Grady Little lost his job for doing the opposite of what Cash did, but I think baseball knows a little more now than we did then.
Yes, Justin Turner acted like an idiot child, and the Dodgers’, long time enablers of even worse behavior than Turner’s, underreacted in typical fashion.
Yes, Tony LaRussa is back, which – and maybe I’m reading the room wrong – everybody except Jerry Reinsdorf thinks is an embarrassment to the sport.
But there were some great results and developments which we all should keep with us over the winter while killing time with the inferior sports. In no particular order:
- The best team won. Everyone knew the Dodgers and Yankees were the best teams in January, but the Yankees had injury issues (AGAIN). The Rays, who also were a legitimately great team, filled in for the Yankees just fine and lost to a juggernaut. That result is so much better for all of us than a .500 team winning the World Series and embarrassing the sport in the process, which was a fear of mine in July.
- Randy Arozarena. The Rays in general were loaded with athleticism, but damn, Arozarena was something to see.
- Giancarlo Stanton is back. When the man who hits baseballs harder than anyone who’s ever hit them is back and hitting baseballs harder than anyone has ever hit them, it’s great news for baseball fans.
- D.J. LeMahieu got even better. The man who is loved by both crotchety old people who yell at clouds and front office 20 somethings with Ivy League degrees, went from very good to “Holy S…” level in 2020. It’s not just that he “hits it to all fields” – it’s that he hits it to all fields very consistently and very hard.
- The Dodgers and Red Sox once again proved that spending money in and of itself won’t do much, but spending money on very good players will always pay off. The Dodgers are a team run by analysts who understand that players like Kershaw and Betts are players to whom writing big checks pays off. The Red Sox proved that being stingy with Hall of Famers in their prime will embarrass your franchise.
- Good for Donnie Baseball. To be clear, Don Mattingly is not a very good field manager – never has been. But he was one of the easiest players in the game to root for when he played, he’s universally regarded as a good dude by everybody in the game, and he had to deal with a daily headache of a circus in LA when he was their manager. Seeing the Marlins play in meaningful games and Donnie getting much of the credit was great to see.
- Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that within the next few years we’re going to be discussing where these two fit into the best players of all time. Tatis is essentially young A-Rod 2.0, and if you ever wondered what it was like to see Ted Williams’ early career, wonder no longer – Soto is playing it out for all of us to see.
- Bye pitchers hitting forever. I know it’s not official yet, but we can assume the NL is sticking with the DH. This comes as a surprise to none of us who’ve been wondering for years why we’ve been subjected to watching pitchers (try to) hit.
Great stuff, 2020 baseball. Looking forward to spring training in just over three months (he typed, while crossing his fingers).
Did I miss something? Let me know.
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