The Good Press — Issue #53: Baseball’s Best Out West
Baseball’s best out west have started 2021 with a bang. I can’t think of a better way to commemorate one full year of The Good Press than some baseball banter.
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’s Best Out West
This past weekend, the Los Angeles Dodgers made the short trek south to play against the San Diego Padres for the first time in the 2021 season. If the first meeting between these two clubs is any indication, this budding rivalry for supremacy in the National League West division is beginning to blossom.
October Comes Early for Dodgers and Padres
A weekend series between N.L. West titans didn't disappoint. But San Diego, after years of playing second (or third or…
LA vs. SD a blockbuster: Sequel coming soon
SAN DIEGO -- Well, that certainly lived up to the hype. Off the field, the Padres and Dodgers traded blows all winter…
Friday alone, there was an instant classic of a 12-inning battle, with neither team willing to give an inch, until Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager broke the game open with a big home run. The game even got weird enough by the end that an infielder took the mound to pitch and a pitcher played the outfield!
'Like a playoff game.' LA wins a wild one in SD
Before the start of the weekend series against the Padres, Corey Seager called it another matchup against…
Saturday, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts made one of the great plays of the young baseball season with a breathtaking ninth-inning diving catch that turned what looked like a game-tying base hit into the final out of the game.
Sunday was another tight one, with the Padres able to rally late in the game to eke out a victory and salvage the series, avoiding the three-game sweep.
The Dodgers eliminated the Padres in the playoffs last season as L.A. won their first World Series championship in 32 years, and the Padres fancy themselves as serious contenders to bring home their first title (or big cake?). They’ll play each again over a dozen more times this regular season, and perhaps they’re destined for another make-or-break October matchup.
In Other Words
It’s been absolutely brilliant baseball (and there’s more where that came from).
Frankly, I can’t think of any better way to commemorate one year of writing The Good Press than to write about some of the most exciting action I’ve seen on the baseball diamond early on this season (among many great games!).
The battle for the NL West division championship, a league pennant, and a World Series might all end up being decided in the Southern California area. So I suppose, after previewing the baseball’s eastern divisions a few weeks ago, there’s no time like the present to preview this year’s exciting NL West.
In the National League West division…
…the Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to repeat and win back-to-back World Series championships for the first time in their franchise history, which dates back to 1884 in their Brooklyn days. They have won seven championships over that 135+ year history, with a record 25 National League pennants.
A fun thing: I mean, just watch that Mookie Betts catch again. This is a player who at age 28 is already a two-time champion, one of the elite all-around players in the sport, and will be playing the next 12 seasons in Dodger blue.
Another fun thing: Lefthander Clayton Kershaw has been one of the greatest pitchers of his generation and is still going strong, leading a formidable Dodgers pitching staff that might be the best starting rotation in baseball.
A 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers haiku:
A true juggernaut
Loaded all over the field
Will be tough to beat…
…the San Diego Padres took a big leap forward last year, reaching the playoffs for the sixth time in their 50+ year history, dating back to 1969. They’ve won two league pennants, but they’re still chasing that elusive first championship.
A fun thing: Young shortstop Fernando Tatís, Jr. is already one of the faces of baseball, a flashy, effervescent 22-year-old who is locked up for 14 more seasons in San Diego. If he can stay healthy, how high can “El Niño” soar?
Another fun thing: The wheeling-and-dealing Padres acquired three starting pitchers in a three-week span this offseason to try to keep pace with L.A., (a literal arms race?) including Joe Musgrove, who’s already thrown a no-hitter.
A 2021 San Diego Padres haiku:
Sunny skies, no rain
All that San Diego needs?
…the San Francisco Giants used to call New York City home for 75 seasons from 1883 to 1957 before they and the Dodgers went west in 1958. The Giants won five of their eight championships in New York and broke through for three championships in a five-year span in S.F. from 2010–2014. They’ve won 23 National League pennants, second to only their bicoastal rivals in L.A.
A fun thing: They may not play in Manhattan anymore, but the frequently renamed Oracle Park in San Francisco is considered a modern gem of a ballpark according to many who have taken in a ballgame (or several) there.
Another fun thing: A good catcher is hard to come by, and the Giants have had a franchise cornerstone in catcher Buster Posey for over a decade now. Posey spent 2020 helping care for his newborn twin daughters, and with a happy and healthy family at home, he has returned to the field this season.
A 2021 San Francisco Giants haiku:
Can they turn the clock
Back to early last decade
For one last hurrah?…
…the Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the youngest franchises in baseball, with a history that dates back to 1998. In just their fourth MLB season in 2001, the D-Backs won their only pennant and championship, in a thrilling, unforgettable seven-game World Series victory over the New York Yankees.
A fun fact: 6'10 lefthander Randy Johnson won four straight NL Cy Young awards (the pitcher of the year award) from 1999 to 2002 and is the only player wearing a Diamondbacks cap on his Baseball Hall of Fame plaque. Even more prestigious? Johnson is one of four Snakes legends featured in the “Legends Races” that take place after the fifth inning of every home game.
Another fun fact: Arizona’s team mascot, D. Baxter the Bobcat, has been the D-Backs’ mascot since 2000 after the son of a player suggested a bobcat mascot as a nod to their ballpark’s original name of Bank One Ballpark (or B.O.B., get it?). A rattlesnake mascot wouldn’t have been nearly as appealing.
A 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks haiku:
A young franchise with
A world championship while
Many still have none…
…and the Colorado Rockies are another young franchise, with a history dating back to 1993. Their most successful season was their remarkable run down the stretch of the 2007 season, winning 21 of 22 games en route to their only pennant. The clock struck midnight on “Rocktober” in the 2007 World Series, however, and they’ve yet to reach the league championship round since. This winter, they traded away franchise icon Nolan Arenado, leaving a bitter taste in many fans’ mouths. If shortstop Trevor Story goes, too, it could get uglier.
A fun thing: Coors Field in Denver features a row of seats that are colored purple to mark the one mile above sea level mark. There’s even a popular Rockies blog named after the purple row, which is a fitting tribute for a team named after the purple mountain majesties that stretch through the state.
Another fun thing: That “playing above sea level” thing means thinner air, which means different effects on the ball (not to mention how different air quality affects different players), and Coors Field is known as a hitter’s haven with hits and home runs easier to come by. However, some research indicates that there may be a hangover effect from going back and forth from Denver’s altitude to other cities, leading to hitters struggling to adjust to the changes.
A 2021 Colorado Rockies haiku:
It’s hard to have a
Team identity if you
Let star players leave…
Yesterday afternoon, the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial came in, with the former officer found guilty of all three charges, including second-degree murder. The verdict confirmed in the legal system what we were able to see with our own eyes: that a human being was murdered in cold blood.
It is exceedingly rare for there to be what amounts to apt accountability for the crimes committed by those who earn a taxpayer-funded salary to protect and serve the community. This conviction isn’t quite justice, but a case of true accountability for someone who likely never imagined facing such a thing.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering that the families of George Floyd and others affected by police violence have felt. Real justice would be if they were able to hug their loved ones again. Real justice would be living in a society that does not suffer from repeated senseless violence of any kind.
Some in power who aren’t too keen on accountability, justice, or democracy are already plotting to try to silence the millions of people who’ve been rejecting the status quo and making their voices heard through protest.
A proposed bill would make protesters convicted of an offense ineligible for student loans
A new bill proposed in the Minnesota Legislature would make anyone convicted of a crime at a protest ineligible for…
This ridiculous proposal is probably unlikely to pass and become law but combined with the assault on voting rights we’re seeing across the country, it’s an unfortunate microcosm of where some politicians are right now. Not to be outdone, Florida’s governor signed this dandy of a new law on Monday.
Florida 'Anti-Rioting' Law Will Make It Much Easier to Run Over Protesters With Cars
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the law, which includes civil immunity for people who drive their cars into crowds of…
In a democracy, there should never, ever be suppression and retaliation against voters and protestors. If only that were a bipartisan position…
Whether you’re a weekly Wednesday morning reader or you get to some issues when you have the free time to skim through them, I could not be prouder to complete a full calendar year of weekly issues of The Good Press.
The inaugural issue was email blasted to friends, family, and other contacts in my Rolodex a year ago tomorrow, April 22, 2020, as I looked for ways to tap into some creative energy as my fiancée and I sheltered in place in New York.
Once a week, every week, 53 straight weeks now. I am humbled by how much support I’ve gotten from readers, whether you’re an avid fan sending weekly feedback or simply a subscriber who’s stayed subscribed week after week.
So THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for making this weekly writing challenge to myself a true community that I look forward to interacting with each week. It means a lot to know that this public journal has resonated with you readers to the point that some of you have shared it with others who may appreciate my words. Some of my most enthusiastic readers sending regular feedback are people who originally had the newsletter referred to them by a friend and have now become some of my favorite pen pals.
The entire archive of every issue of The Good Press is available online here as well as on Medium, and it’s interesting for me to see how the newsletter has evolved from issue to issue over the last year. I can be my harshest critic, as my fiancée can attest, but I’m proud of this collection of weekly writings.
One day, perhaps I will publish the newsletter as a coffee table book. Or at least try to. I think that would be a nice, simple way to have many issues all together at the reader’s convenience, easily reread and relived again like a snapshot of a moment in time. I’d like to think many issues are evergreen.
But enough self-indulgence. I may have started writing again to challenge myself to stay sharp, but without readers like you expecting thoughtful reads in your email inboxes weekly, this wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful a project.
Who knows what future subjects will be? I still have 15 more baseball teams to preview for 2021, so hopefully, I can complete the series before too long.
Whatever comes to mind, I’ll be sure to jot it down and share it.
Till next time,
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press — Issue #52: More Mourning in Minnesota
As Minnesota grapples with the high-profile murder trial of a former police officer, now there is more mourning for yet…
April 14, 2021
The Good Press — Issue #51: Recoil
Sports leagues continue to find themselves at the center of flashpoint political discourse; same as it ever was
April 7, 2021
The Good Press — Issue #50: Baseball Fun for 2021
The gold edition of The Good Press is dedicated to fun baseball things including some team haikus. Which way will the…
March 31, 2021