2014 was the first year since 2004 where I wasn’t writing a couple of blog posts a week. It was weird! I feel very disconnected from the baseball news cycle; not having an internet connection stable enough to watch games with until the postseason probably had something to do with it, but when I buy the 2015 Baseball Prospectus I’ll probably be putting a lot of names to slash lines for the first time.
But I outbid everybody else hunting for the em-dash.es domain name for another year, so whatever I end up writing in 2015, you’ll see it here. My resolution is to exceed the 40-or-so posts I ended up making in 2014, and to have the book project I’ve been working on on-and-off for a few years in a condition to show you guys before, say, the celebrity softball game. (The TV replay, not the live game—I might need that extra day.)
To everybody who continued reading my work long after doing so was necessary to gain entrance to a fun and vibrant community: Thanks.
Here are five things I remember writing in 2014:
Scott Rolen—he was a great player, but you had to be there. You had to watch the way he controlled his huge limbs in flight, the way his arm snapped forward like a machined part, the way he ran with his head down in a way that had to be totally unlike your dad's stupid Charlie Hustle memories sounded.
There have always been people who think Yadier Molina will one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame. These people watched him hit those NLCS home runs in 2006 and knew; these people watched him distinguish himself as Mike Matheny Jr. in 2004 and knew. Ask around the Midwest League and I am convinced you will find that there were people who sat at O'Brien Field every afternoon, cheering on Dan Haren (7-3, 1.95) and Tyler Johnson (15-3, 2.00) and Shaun Boyd (.313/.379/.471), and knew that Yadier Molina, .280/.331/.384, was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The thing that's harder to afford, as a baseball fan, is the sense that getting excited about a young pitcher is just the first part of a story that always involves a year in the wilderness and a flinching unease every time you watch him throw that bewildering slider.
I can’t disprove the world I imagined when I was 17—where all of us are governed by probability, and it’s best that we all accept it and will our favorite organizations to become more efficient—which I guess is the point. When you are a supremely confident teenager, if you’re lucky, you get some idea of how the world really does work, and you root for progress to take hold and install you in your rightful place among the elect who have also read the right books. Sometime after that, if you are lucky, you fail convincingly enough to realize that you are the fat, not the lean cut of meat you kept yelling at general managers to finish trimming.
Our only protection is that nobody outside Fox Sports Midwest's viewing territory cares about our Mike Matheny memes; the regional nature of baseball fandom is all that's keeping us from Budweiser commercials about Mike Trout's bitchin' man-cave. Local radio stations and regional sports networks and going to a no-account June afternoon game with your whole family are not signs of the sport's sickness, they're what allow us to enjoy it on its merit, with people we're close to, for reasons that might not (and should not) resonate with every other baseball fan in the United States.