Mike Napoli retires
Mike Napoli announced his intent to retire from the game of baseball over the weekend. This was kind of shocking, in that I thought he had already retired. Essentially he had after not playing at all in 2018, but this was the official announcement. More than anything, this is a good excuse to look back at the Napoli era and the 2013 team. Obviously he was a very good player for that team as well as the 2014 squad, but we’ll just remember the post-championship celebration. Napoli was wild in the team celebration on the field and in the clubhouse, then took it to a new level out in the city of Boston. There was story after story of people running into him in bars around town that whole week, and the now-famous picture of the former Red Sox first baseman walking the streets shirtless. It made this story from former teammate Jeff Mathis that much greater. We’ll miss you Nap, though I’m sure he’s going to be around in Boston plenty.
Lee Smith and Harold Baines heading to Hall of Fame
The Today’s Game Committee for the Hall of Fame made their selections for the Hall of Fame on Sunday, and the announcements were controversial. I know it’s hard to believe that people could dislike a decision made by any organization tied to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Harold Baines and Lee Smith were voted in by the committee. Smith is less egregious and was one of the game’s first modern closers. He also spent two-and-a-half years in Boston. I wouldn’t have voted him in, but his selection is whatever. The real fun one was Harold Baines, who was a fine player but never came close to making it in real voting. He probably shouldn’t be in, but the Hall of Fame has been a joke for a little while now. The plaque section, at least. Life has become better for me since I’ve detached myself from this stuff. The museum is still amazing and I still really encourage anyone who hasn’t been to take the trip to Cooperstown, but the room with all the plaques is increasingly not representative of the history of the game.
Kyler Murray wins the Heisman
Oklahoma Sooners quaterback Kyler Murray won a tight Heisman race on Saturday, which matters to baseball fans too. Murray, of course, was a top ten pick from the Oakland A’s and is supposed to transition full-time to baseball after this college football season. He and agent Scott Boras continue to say he will do just that, but I’m going to believe it when I see it. I think ideally he’d be a two-sport star, but I really don’t see that happening. Generally speaking, the sound financial decision is to play baseball, or at least that’s the perception. If you’re a top ten pick, that’s probably true. However, it becomes much murkier when you are one of the nation’s best quarterbacks and a potential first round pick in the NFL draft. The financials are much different for those players. That obviously doesn’t include any other factors Murray may want to consider. I hope he chooses baseball, and I know he keeps saying he will, but I still think he’s ultimately going to pick football.
Sunday Night Baseball Games pushed up an hour
Hallelujah! ESPN is expected to announce at some point on Monday that their flagship Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, the bane of our existences, will be pushed up an hour. Now, that’s not going to fix all of their problems, of course. National broadcasts are always going to be inherently worse than local broadcasts to local fans, because they aren’t catered to just that local audience. I don’t think ESPN’s broadcast booth is as bad as it’s made out to be, but I’d still prefer the NESN booth and I don’t even particularly love the NESN booth. Local focuses are just better almost all of the time. Still, starting at seven instead of eight is a game-changer for those of us that wake up early. So thank you ESPN.
Mike Tamburro wins King of Baseball
Mike Tamburro, an executive in the Pawtucket Red Sox organization, has been crowned the King of Baseball this season as part of a ceremony at the Winter Meetings. What does that mean? I have no idea! But they gave him a robe and a crown, and really the whole thing is pretty absurd. I have never heard of this award but apparently it’s been a thing for a while, so congrats to you, Mike. Treat your subjects with respect, lest they revolt and start a democracy to rule the game.