So many possible opening paragraph items for the Bullets today are possible, two of which I can plausibly include down below as actual baseball-related-content items. So I will. One of the other two I was kicking around was George RR Martin’s announcement that his next ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book will not be released before HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ airs its next season in April (EEEEEEE!!!), which means that, for the first time in their dual tracks, show watchers will probably be in a position to somewhat spoil book readers. Just an odd situation, and I’m sure deeply disappointing for book readers (of which I am not one).
The other thing was The Wife, The Brother-In-Law and The Sister-In-Law and I went Dave & Buster’s last night, where I’d not been in 10 years. It was fun, and, while I was quite bad at pop-a-shot, I was quite good at throwing balls and knocking down clowns. If that’s what baseball was, entirely, I’d be entering my twilight years in the bigs.
- Jerry Crasnick writes about the most interesting people for 2016 in a variety of places, and Jason Heyward gets the nod as the most interesting guy on the Cubs, and the third most interesting guy to follow overall in MLB heading into to the new season. I actually think that’s a fair selection, when you consider that we’re not talking about the best player or the most important player or the most impactful player (although Heyward is certainly set to be very good, very important, and very impactful). Instead, it’s simply going to be extremely interesting to see how Heyward joins this young core – into which, chronologically, he fits quite well – as well as how his defense plays in center field and his bat plays at Wrigley Field. It’s entirely possible that his elite defensive ability in right field doesn’t translate to center for whatever unexpected reason, and his bat has already peaked and he’s the rare guy who starts his offensive retreat in his middle-late 20s. I don’t think either of those things are particularly likely, but they’re possible. Also possible: Heyward continues playing elite defense, even in center, and his bat takes another step forward – probably mostly in the power department – and he emerges as a clear MVP candidate for the next several years. The likely truth is somewhere in between, but the range of possibilities for a guy joining such an exciting team are what make it so interesting to follow. And we get to! Soon!
- All that said, if you start letting yourself think about all the interesting possible stories on the Cubs, you will twist yourself in knots. Was that as good as it gets for Kris Bryant (which was awesome), or can he get even better? Will Kyle Schwarber keep doing what he did? Will Jorge Soler finally break out offensively and become the best hitter on the team (I know, that’s a crazy possibility when you consider the lineup, but it’s actually a real possibility!)? Will Jake Arrieta be able to duplicate or even nearly approximate his 2015 Cy Young season? Will the Cubs’ stable of super utility pitchers help evolve the pitching game in 2016? I could go on.
- Jon Heyman has left CBS sports, as broken by Awful Announcing. Heyman joined CBS a little over four years ago from Sports Illustrated, and cemented himself as a news-breaking institution in the digital age. Here’s hoping he lands somewhere that he can still report and write regularly (he’s still affiliated with MLB Network, as far as I know, but that feels like a different kind of gig), because we’d all be missing out a little bit without Heyman breaking news. I’m reminded that, two years ago, CBS parted with both Scott Miller and Danny Knobler, too, each of whom was excellent, and each of whom has since been much more removed from our radar screens (Miller is doing good work at Bleacher Report, though I seem to catch his articles less often than I did at CBS; Knobler recently joined Bleacher Report, as well, but I haven’t seen too much from him since he parted CBS). CBS still has an excellent crew of writers manning the Eye on Baseball blog, but losing Heyman’s national reporting presence stinks.
- Buster Olney no longer votes for the Hall of Fame, but he does a great job explaining here why using the character clause as a shield to keep certain players out doesn’t make sense.
- Blogger Murray Chass took to his blog to rip into ESPN/FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski in a blog post.
- Cubs Monopoly!