I know folks were generally not enjoying the non-competitive bowls yesterday, but I sure did like seeing Michigan stomp Florida in the Citrus Bowl. The evolution of Jake Ruddock as a quarterback over the course of the season was really incredible (and he managed to become only the second QB in school history to go over 3,000 passing yards (John Navarre) in a season, despite not exactly leading a pass-first attack). Who starts there for the Wolverines next year is a bit of an open question, but I like the odds of Jim Harbaugh and staff being able to mold another quality arm.
- ESPN put together a “person of the year” thing in Major League Baseball, and Bryce Harper got the nod. Sounds like a good selection to me, though many will probably point to others who were more visible over the course of 2015. The thing is, Harper – who is plenty visible, even when being choked – just had one of the most incredible years in baseball history, and he did it as a 22-year-old. As Jayson Stark points out in the article, the last two players to lead baseball in OBP and SLG at Harper’s age were Ty Cobb and Stan Musial. It was a Barry Bonds season in a non-PED era, and he rightfully was recognized for it.
- That said, not everyone at ESPN agreed, and there is an interesting read from Christina Kahrl on Jake Arrieta as the person of the year in baseball (he finished third in the voting). Given Arrieta’s incredible season and incredible rise (though that started in 2014, a breakout season that many seem to forget, thanks to the new heights he reached in 2015), I can definitely see the argument that he was the best story of the year in baseball. Pair it with the Cubs’ overall story, and if you wanted to call Arrieta the person of the year in baseball, you’d get no argument from me. Let’s not forget, like Harper, Arrieta did some historically unbelievable things in 2015, too.
- Finished just ahead of Arrieta in the voting, and just behind Harper, was another Cub: Joe Maddon. Buster Olney lays out the case for Maddon as the person of the year in baseball here.
- It’s been a while since we’ve had a major Tommy John surgery case to follow as Cubs fans (KNOCK ON WOOD!), but I still find almost all TJS studies worth reading, because the information and misinformation about the process is fascinating to me. This read from Owen Watson looks at the projections for various TJS recoverees that are due back in 2016, and reminds you of this: “On average, pitchers don’t gain velocity, don’t improve performance compared to their pre-injury numbers, and they’re more likely to go on the disabled list with an injury to their throwing arm than a pitcher that didn’t have surgery. While there is some evidence that TJ surgery might allow pitchers to not suffer as much age-related depreciation as those that have their original ligament, it’s clear that this is a major surgery, and not something to be taken for granted.” If I were going to get one series of statements about a baseball surgery tattooed to my chest for some reason, it would probably be this series.
- A Kosuke Fukudome Cubs action figure/statue at Amazon? Ok. Sure. It comes with a free digital copy of ‘Kung Fu Panda’, which is … odd.