Friday, January 12, 2018

Ten Weeks to the New Year

[Note to regular readers ... Thursday's column, "Boy, Do I Not Understand the Law", somehow got stuck behind Wednesday's column in the order.  So if you missed me yesterday, just look below "The Nation's HOA" and there it will be.]

So OK, most of you think that the New Year happened already and we're a dozen days or so into 2018.  I hear you.  IRS hears you and agrees with you, except that if you want to put money into a tax-deferred instrument, well, 2017 somehow ends on April 15th.  But the IRS doesn't listen to anyone, so their opinions don't exactly count.

For me, however, the year is to begin very late in March, about ten weeks from now.  On the 29th of March, the 2018 Major League baseball season will begin, and not a moment too soon.  Now the baseball that is played on that day may be a bit curious to watch, given that games will be played in New York (Mets), Detroit, Baltimore and Cincinnati on that day, and March 29 in those cities is as likely to be very chilly as comfortable, but it is baseball.  And Cincinnati can be excused as it is a very long tradition that the Reds, the oldest team in baseball, play at home on Opening Day.

Whatever.  I've been without baseball for two and a half months, locked in the play of the so-called "Hot Stove League", which is not actual games but the trades and signings that go on between seasons.  The teams are far from being done with all those transactions, though I am over it already.

Many player signings and trades are waiting on the signing of two or three key free agents.  Until they decide where they will sign, stacks of very good but slightly lesser players are unsigned because the teams which might sign the top couple can't sign an alternative until they know if they won the sweepstakes for the top few.

And I care about the games, the games, the games.  Lots of articles are out there in baseball literature world, but they're struggling for what to talk about until Jake Arrieta decides where he will pitch, or JD Martinez decides where he will hit (and hopefully not field; his glove is where ERAs go to die).

I'm tired of being tired.  I want to turn on the TV and see some live baseball.  I'm an unabashed Red Sox fan (even though, as I have to say, I did not grow up anywhere near New England).  The Sox have won their division the past two years, and their core lineup is almost all younger than 28 years old, the statistical peak of performance for players.  That means that they should be better in 2018 than before ... theoretically.

Of course, other teams have gotten better too, including the despicable division rivals, the New York Yankees.  Their former "shortstop", Derek Jeter, has seen to that (the quotes are to reference the fact that he played at short for easily a dozen years beyond where he should have been moved off that position; statistically he was the worst-fielding position player in the history of the game).

Jeter is now the general manager (or whatever title he has) and minority owner of the Miami Marlins, who are financially in dire straits and are selling off all their decent players to try to make a profit.  One such transaction involved sending Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 homers last year, to the aforementioned Yankees for a bag of balls and a six-pack of Moxie, plus an expendable second-baseman, just to clear Stanton's high contract off their books.

At any rate, this means that the Yankees will provide more competition than last year, even though the addition of Stanton is actually a replacement of an existing outfielder, so the "difference" is how much better Stanton might be than Aaron Hicks or Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner, whichever one loses his starting job.

But see, that's all about transactions and lineups, and not about playing actual baseball.  I want to see games, and I suppose by late January every year, no matter what did happen the prior year, I get this way.  I started watching baseball and understanding what was going on early in the first Eisenhower administration, and it has never lost me, although it tried a few times, particularly in 1994.

I've got a few World Series videos.  Maybe I'll drag out the DVDs, or look on YouTube for something to watch.  There is about everything you could watch out there, of course, and a whole lot you'd prefer not to.  But there is active baseball, and you can pick games your team wins :)

I just need to see something.  See you Monday.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

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