Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.
Thanks for reading. I hope you find this issue to be worth your time.
Comments and reader suggestions are always welcome.
Baseball Fun for 2021
I know that many in The Good Press community are baseball fans, as I am.
That’s why I thought it would be apropos for the 50th issue of the newsletter to be a baseball issue. (At least, more overtly and more intentionally than usual.) I thought it would be fun to highlight some fun baseball things to celebrate that tomorrow, April 1, is Opening Day of the 2021 MLB baseball season.
Now, I realize that baseball is admittedly a bit of an acquired taste, and there are 30 major league teams to choose from, so for those without rooting interests, perhaps you’ll find something that piques your interest and gives you a reason to cheer for some players and teams. If that ends up being so, congrats on your new fandom; may you revel in their success. I’d recommend watching as many games as you can until baseball grows on you (as it does).
In Other Words
Thanks for supporting The Good Press. It’s been a fun first fifty issues so far. If you’re not interested in some baseball chatter, feel free to scroll through and skip most of the baseball stuff. Perhaps you can just read the haikus.
My goal for this endeavor is to list a couple of fun baseball things about each of the 30 teams in time, but I’m only doing the teams in the National League and American League East divisions (ten in total) in today’s issue. For fans of the other 20 teams, I’ll write about them in future issues early on this season.
Without further ado, please enjoy some baseball fun for 2021: east edition.
Over in the National League East division…
…Atlanta is an exciting young team who’s won three straight NL East division championships and fell just one game short of a World Series appearance in 2020. Their history dates back to 1876 and they’ve won three World Series championships with 17 league pennants. Most recent championship: 1995.
A fun thing: The all-around talent of outfielder Ronald Acuña, Jr., who at 23 years old is already one of the most exciting and best players in baseball.
Another fun thing: The quiet, consistent brilliance of first baseman Freddie Freeman, who rebounded from a scary bout with COVID-19 to win the NL MVP award in 2020 after a decade of excellence in Atlanta. His offseason was even better, as he and his wife welcomed two baby boys this winter.
A 2021 Atlanta baseball team haiku:
Oh so close last year
To another league pennant
But new season now…
…the New York Mets are expected to take a leap towards serious World Series contention, but they still have that unique reputation that precedes them…
The New York Mets: Best Worst Team In Sports
Why author Devin Gordon calls the New York Mets “the best worst team in sports” in his new book, “So Many Ways to Lose”
ESPN Daily podcast — player.fm
…the Mets play in Flushing, Queens off the 7-train in a ballpark that is an exceedingly pleasant place to watch a ballgame. The team’s history dates back to 1962 as one of the National League’s first expansion teams, following the respective moves of New York City’s beloved National League franchises, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers, to San Francisco and Los Angeles in the late 1950s. The Mets have won two very memorable championships in baseball history (1969, 1986) and have five NL pennants.
A fun thing: Even non-sports fans can see that Francisco Lindor is special from a mile away. He will inspire an entire generation of baseball fans by himself, and this 2021 Mets team is loaded with good, fun players all over.
Another fun thing: I’d strongly recommend watching the sheer pitching dominance of Jacob deGrom (deGrominance?) every fifth day, as the best pitcher in baseball’s game improbably continues to ascend ever further.
A 2021 New York Mets haiku:
Will they make the leap
To world title contention?
Only time will tell…
…the Washington Nationals are a very experienced team, with many players that were a part of their 2019 championship-winning club, including several former All-Stars and some likely future Hall of Famers. Their history dates back to 1969 (formerly known as the Montréal Expos). Their 2019 World Series championship was their first championship and National League pennant.
A fun thing: Young prodigy Juan Soto is off to a historic start to his career matched only by legends. Fall behind in the count to him, and you are toast.
Another fun thing: Future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer has two different colored eyes, and his champagne celebration goggles do, too.
A 2021 Washington Nationals haiku:
Glory days were not
All that long ago, and yet,
A long road back up…
…the Philadelphia Phillies are buoyed by a passionate fanbase that makes sure that no Phillies season is ever boring, but they still seem to be stuck in neutral as they try to write another chapter in their long, often arduous history. Their history dates back to 1883, and they’ve won two championships and seven pennants as they get set for a 139th season. Their last championship: 2008.
A fun thing: One of baseball’s most well-known names is Bryce Harper, who often hits baseballs very far, is still only 28 years old after debuting at age 19.
Another fun thing: The Phillies were able to re-sign top catcher J.T. Realmuto this winter, a guy who commands respect from teammates and rivals alike.
A 2021 Philadelphia Phillies haiku:
Neither playoff push
Nor last-place finish would be
All that surprising…
…and the Miami Marlins, somewhat a misfit toy of a team since debuting in 1993, have zero first-place finishes in the NL East but have nevertheless won two World Series championships as a Wild Card playoff team that twice took advantage of their golden opportunities to win it all. Their two World Series wins are their only two pennants. Their most recent championship was 2003.
A fun thing: Miami nearly channeled their glory days in the shortened 2020 season, marking their third-ever playoff appearance with a first-round victory, before their clock struck midnight against Atlanta. That experience can be kindling to spark a young team for years to come, but only if they can sustain the developmental progress they made “ahead of schedule” last year.
Another fun thing: They have beautiful blue uniforms that Marlins fans are pushing for the team to wear outside of practice situations, as they should.
A 2021 Miami Marlins haiku:
A much tougher task
To repeat your success when
Moving over to the American League East division…
…the New York Yankees are known as the gold standard of baseball, with a staggering 27 World Series championships and 40 league pennants (both MLB records). No world championships since 2009 is a long time for a team that hasn’t often had title droughts this long, but fortunately for Yankee fans, this 2021 squad is one of the heavy favorites to fly yet another flag this year. Their illustrious history in New York City dates all the way back to 1903.
A fun thing: For some reason, few right-handed batters’ swings are regarded as aesthetically-pleasing and as beautiful as left-handed swings. The Yankees have a rare exception, in my opinion, in the smooth swing of DJ LeMahieu, an infielder whose teammates call, “The Machine” for his professional approach.
Another fun thing: The colossal clout of outfielder Aaron Judge is another kind of beautiful swing entirely, but I want to highlight another Aaron in the Yankees outfield whose game I’ve always enjoyed. Centerfielder Aaron Hicks is a switch-hitter with an elite eye at the plate, who is trying to match that patience with power this season and make the leap toward All-Star territory. Defensively, he’s capable of changing a game with his arm and his glove, too.
A 2021 New York Yankees haiku:
Sooner or later
The Big Bad Wolf of baseball
Will triumph again…
…the Tampa Bay Rays, fresh off a league pennant, are the “Little Engine That Could” of baseball, forever finding ways to win on a relative shoestring budget. Twice now, they’ve come tantalizingly close (but no cigar) to a title. One of the youngest franchises in the majors, their team history dates back to 1998. Despite two pennants, they are 0 for 2 in World Series appearances.
A fun thing: Top prospect Wander Franco, who was born in 2001 (!), is regarded by many as a potential future star who could see the majors sooner rather than later. I always root for players to be the very best they can be, and for a guy who was still a teenager a month ago, I am wowed by his ability.
Another fun thing: Tyler Glasnow has “ace” talent in his right arm and he may be on the verge of a breakout season as the anchor of the Rays pitching staff. He’s got electric stuff, and hopefully, he’ll stay healthy and show it off all year.
A 2021 Tampa Bay Rays haiku:
They can win it all
But having money to burn
Would help immensely…
…the Toronto Blue Jays, nomadic to start 2021 until COVID protocols allow for their return home, have a promising trio of second-generation infielders who will bring a lot of excitement to Jays games. Winners of the only two championships by an international team, Toronto is still looking for a pennant other than their back-to-back world titles in 1992 and 1993. Their history dates back to 1977; they’ve been the lone international team since 2005.
A fun thing: Those second-gen guys? Bo Bichette (son of Dante), Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (son of Vladimir, Sr.), and Cavan Biggio (son of Craig) all have All-Star potential, perhaps as soon as this season. Talent isn’t always inherited, but these three also have the work ethic necessary to realize their potential.
Another fun thing: Centerfielder George Springer would have been a perfect fit for the Mets, but Toronto’s deep pockets convinced the ex-UConn star to sign with the Jays, giving them another formidable slugger atop the lineup.
A 2021 Toronto Blue Jays haiku:
The Toronto crowds
Will be exhilarating
When the Jays fly home…
…the Boston Red Sox have taken a step back since winning their most recent championship in 2018 (their league-leading fourth title this century.) Trading away popular superstar Mookie Betts left a sour taste in the mouths of the Fenway Faithful, and it might take a couple of years before they are ready to return to contention. Nevertheless, with nine championships, 14 pennants, and a staunch fanbase, they’re never all that far away from another “boom.” They will be entering their 121st season in Boston after debuting in 1901.
A fun thing: Left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez, who missed the 2020 season after developing a dangerous heart condition after battling COVID-19, has recovered and been cleared by doctors to return to the field. The southpaw was scheduled to be the Opening Day starter but is still getting his arm back in shape after the long layoff, though he should be back on the mound soon.
Another fun thing: Xander Bogaerts, the best baseball player to ever come out of Aruba, was a 20-year-old rookie on Boston’s 2013 championship team. Now, at 28, he’s the heart and soul of the team. Let’s hope they hold onto him.
A 2021 Red Sox haiku:
No excuse not to
Do everything possible
To try to win big…
…and the Baltimore Orioles, unfortunately, are extremely likely to be the bottom-feeders of the AL East again this year. When baseball stats website FanGraphs.com put out their expert projections for the 2021 season, the projection system gave them postseason odds that rounded-down to 0.0%. Oof. That’s no fun. Their franchise history dates back to 1901 and they’ve been in Baltimore since 1954. They’ve got seven pennants and three world titles to their name, in 1966, 1970, and 1983. It’s set to stay that way in 2021.
A fun thing: The Orioles, named after Maryland’s state bird, have pretty nice uniforms if you ask me. They also have a cap that includes a logo of a smiling oriole bird who is wearing his own Orioles cap on it, which is just delightful.
Another fun thing: Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992 and was such an instant classic of modern stadium design that 20 of the 30 teams play in stadiums that were built after 1992, with many at least somewhat inspired by Baltimore’s design. It is well worth your time to go see a ballgame there.
A 2021 Baltimore Orioles haiku:
Greener pastures will
Inevitably come soon
So have fun out there…
The idea of writing regularly again and putting it out to the world again was an idea I came up with back in the spring of 2020, back when New York City was spookily quiet, back when our lives got flipped, turned upside down.
Fundamentally, The Good Press was intended as an outlet for my creativity and for me to get some thoughts out onto the page and release some of what turned out to be a whole bunch of pent-up creative energy that I had in me.
I’m grateful to say that we’ve built something of a community together, for me and those who have subscribed and/or replied with your feedback and/or shared an issue with a friend and/or enjoy some issues more than other ones.
So, sincerely, thanks for reading.
Fifty straight weeks of publishing something, even just a few minutes in your inbox and online at Revue is something I’m very proud of. It was a challenge to myself that I’m glad I’ve been able to achieve, and I plan to keep on going.
Next week? I’ll put the baseball fun series on pause before resuming them in the future. I’d like to give readers an opportunity to learn at least a couple of fun things about all 30 of the teams before the season really gets into gear.
Thanks for sticking with me. Even if future issues end up being a little shorter (much shorter than this one, for sure), I’ll do my best to bring you new issues each Wednesday for as long as I can. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.
Have a great week, and may your favorite baseball players and teams have good health and good fortune on their long march toward October glory.
Till next time,
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press — Issue #49: Rally
A baseball rally is exuberant, evoking feelings similar to the many ways that we rally throughout our lives, finding…
March 24, 2021
The Good Press — Issue #48: Spring Forward
As we spring forward each day ever closer to a “post-pandemic” America, sports leagues once again will attempt to show…
March 17, 2021
The Good Press — Issue #47: Plans
You know what they say about the best-laid plans… Reflecting on our one-year “panniversary,” and what it will be like…
March 10, 2021