Shaq Thompson and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Baseball Career

A couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through the ol’ Twitter feed when I came across this:

Shaq Thompson? I recognized that name from somewhere. I haven’t really ever followed college football so I knew it had to be something other than football. Eventually, it came to me. Shaq Thompson, the most versatile college football player in the nation, had the worst statistical career in professional baseball history.

In high school, Thompson was a football and track standout. He played in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and specialized in the 200-meter dash. After his senior year, Thompson was the no. 1 safety recruit and the no. 4 overall recruit in the nation. He committed to play football at the University of Washington. Thompson, now a junior linebacker for the Huskies, has thrived on the gridiron and has earned national recognition as one of the best all-around players in the country. So where does his baseball career fit in?

Back in 2012, Alex Speier documented Thompson’s incredible journey from his middle school days to his last at-bat in pro ball. It’s especially worth the read now, knowing of Thompson’s immense success on the football field. The Red Sox took a chance on Thompson in the 18th round of the 2012 Draft, with the hope that he could turn his raw athletic gifts into actual baseball skills. Thompson had only played baseball in senior year, and fared well against weak competition, but teams love to gamble on freak athletes with the hope that they can actually learn how to play baseball. Thompson was still committed to playing football for the Huskies in the fall, but wanted to give baseball, a sport he loved as a kid, a try before heading up to Washington. Thompson played in 13 games for the Red Sox in the Gulf Coast League (the lowest level of the minor leagues) over the span of a month–from June 20th to the July 20th. This is how it went:

Game 1

1st plate appearance: strikeout swinging

2nd plate appearance: strikeout looking

3rd plate appearance: walk

4th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

5th plate appearance: walk

Game 2

6th plate appearance: strikeout looking

7th plate appearance: strikeout looking

8th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 3

9th plate appearance: walk

10th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

11th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

12th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

13th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 4

14th plate appearance: strikeout looking

15th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

16th plate appearance: strikeout looking

Game 5

17th plate appearance: strikeout looking

18th plate appearance: strikeout looking

19th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 6

20th plate appearance: RBI ground out to 1st (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

21st plate appearance: strikeout swinging

22nd plate appearance: walk

Game 7

23rd plate appearance: strikeout looking

24th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

25th plate appearance: strikeout looking

Game 8

26th plate appearance: strikeout looking

27th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

28th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 9

29th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

30th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

31st plate appearance: walk

Game 10

32nd plate appearance: strikeout swinging

33rd plate appearance: walk

34th plate appearance: walk

Game 11

35th plate appearance: strikeout looking

36th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

37th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

38th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

39th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 12

40th plate appearance: walk

41st plate appearance: strikeout looking

42nd plate appearance: strikeout looking

43rd plate appearance: strikeout looking

44th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

45th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

Game 13

46th plate appearance: strikeout swinging

47th plate appearance: lineout to right field

Shaq Thompson went 0-39 with 37 strikeouts. His career line was .000/.170/.000. 

Over his 47 plate appearances, Thompson put the ball in play twice while striking out 79% of the time. He had a .170 OPS, which was also his OBP. Even if you lower the minimum plate appearances threshold to 40, only two position players in baseball history have had a lower OPS for their careers. The next closest (and most recent) is Cincinnati infielder Neftali Soto, who has hit .071/.091/.095 in his first 44 plate appearances. Of course, that’s in the big leagues. Unfortunately, there is no Play Index for the GCL or any level of the minors, so I’m only 99.99% certain that Thompson holds the title for Worst Professional Career Ever. Thompson’s eight walks can most likely be attributed to some combination of the inexperienced pitchers he was facing and the presumed occasional strategy of just not swinging at all. Thompson had the 6th most strikeouts on his team and the 16th most plate appearances. I could go on, but I already feel kinda bad. It doesn’t take advanced stats to know how bad he was. Although, let’s give him credit: he did have one RBI.

Barry Petchesky of Deadspin did a great piece on Thompson right after he unsurprisingly declared his baseball career over. The end of the piece really sums up how I feel about Thompson’s epic struggles:

“Ted Williams always maintained that the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball. That quote plays well with the crowd who holds up “The Green Fields of the Mind” as great American literature, but it’s surely meaningless. Hitting a ball is hard. Memorizing a football playbook is hard. Sticking with the receiver on an out route is hard. Everything in sports is difficult in its own way, and something like hitting a baseball is so divorced from any other skill set as to be an almost irrelevant marker of athletic talent. Shaq Thompson’s minor league struggles don’t have to mean anything, other than the objective fact that he went 0-for-39, with 37 strikeouts. We’ll always have that.”

I agree: Shaq Thompson’s failures in the GCL don’t definitively tell us anything about professional baseball or Thompson himself. And yet, his brief stint in pro ball can give us some perspective. If you take a not-so-scientific look at the Crazy-Athlete-Trying-To-Play-Baseball Spectrum, you’ll see that most of those attempts to play pro ball end in failure. Thompson certainly represents one end of the so-called spectrum, but there are countless other examples of ‘lottery ticket’ athletes flaming out in the low-minors, much to the chagrin of their respective organizations. However, teams — some more than others — will continue to gamble on these super-freaks with the hope that just one of them really does evolve into a franchise-type player.

More than anything, I’m genuinely happy Shaq Thompson has rebounded so well from his briefly cataclysmic baseball career to become one of the best college football players in the country. ESPN’s Todd McShay recently projected Thompson to be a mid-1st round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, citing him as a “unique talent with an outstanding combination of size, speed, and athleticism”. Thompson’s success on the gridiron only further proves Petchesky’s point that his struggles in pro ball don’t really tell us anything about Thompson or baseball. It was just a remarkably ridiculous thing that happened. Thompson tried one professional sport and failed spectacularly. He’s about to try another professional sport, and has a much better chance at succeeding. That’s pretty awesome! Two professional sports!

There have been plenty of other great football players drafted by baseball teams based on their athletic abilities and performance in high school. Most of them never step foot on a minor league field. You know who else was drafted out of high school in the 18th round? Tom Brady! Tom Brady could have been the one to go 0-39 with 37 strikeouts. We’ll never know. I’m obviously not faulting Brady or any other athlete that chose to forego baseball for other sports, but give Thompson credit: he tried! Just because he turned to be the one to go 0-39 with 37 strikeouts doesn’t mean he’s the only one that could have gone 0-39 with 37 strikeouts. In fact, I’m almost positive Jon Heyman would’ve gone 0-47 with 47 strikeouts if given the opportunity.

Shaq Thompson may hold the title for Worst Professional Baseball Career Ever. But he also briefly held the title of Professional Baseball Player. Soon, he’ll hold the title of Professional Football Player. That’s more than you or I can say. Unless Bo Jackson is reading this, in which case, hey Bo Jackson!

 

Welcome Yo 2 Detroit

When Yo was traded to Boston at the end of July, we were downright shocked. It was a jarring, emotional experience for us, for A’s fans, and for many Yo enthusiasts across the world. But, as with anything, we came to terms with it and embraced his new home in Boston.

Going into the off-season, we knew Yo had a decent chance of being moved. He’s a free agent after the 2015 season, and Boston was already loaded with young outfielders ready to play every day. Then, in a 48-hour span, the chance of Yo having a future in Boston was all but destroyed by the Red Sox signing a large panda and Apparent Left Fielder Hanley Ramirez. At that point, we knew Yo was toast. It was only a matter of time before Boston found a team to trade our hero to for a starting pitcher not named Yoenis Cespedes. Boston decided to move on. We totally understand.

This morning, the Boston Red Sox traded Yo to the Detroit Tigers for a Rich Porn Seller. I can’t imagine why the Red Sox would feel that this, salesman of sorts, will help their rotation…but that’s their prerogative. What matters now is that Yo is a Tiger, and we are excited as ever to see what kind of damage he can do in the same lineup as one of the best hitters in baseball, J.D. Martinez. We hope Tigers fans grow to love Yo as much as we do.

Welcome to Detroit.

A Bunch of Jokes About Gorby Throwing A Baseball

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This is a picture of former leader of the Soviet Union (and personal favorite world leader) Mikhail Gorbachev throwing a baseball. The photo was taken when Gorby threw out the first pitch at a high school game in Texas when he visited Bush in 2001. There’s so much to say about this photo so I figured I would just say it. Here are some jokes/puns/observations about this amazing picture:

 

  • He threw a Glastnostball to get a Perestroikout.
  • I’m confused about why he’s wearing the away uniform for the infamous men’s league baseball team “The Generic Geriatric Grandfathers.”
  • In classic US/USSR fashion Bush looks like one of those umpires you have in little league who stands behind the mound and judges every single thing you do.
  • Bush is the trainer who was called out of the dugout to check up on Gorby’s nagging injury: fractured pride.
  • In a socialist society everyone gets a trophy
  • Seems to be getting a lot of revolutions on the ball.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez makes Gorby look like David Price.
  • “From Wrigley in the Adriatic to Minute Maid in the Baltic an Iron Curveball has descended across the continent.”
  • IN SOVIET UNION BALL PITCHES YOU
  • The batter was actually Mike Eruzione who hit this pitch over 400 feet.
  • If he wants to get more power on his fastball, Gorby should probably COMINTERN his hips open a little later in his motion.
  • This is Gorby’s last batter, the fans convinced the manager to bring in Yeltsin to face the righty.
  • His win/lost record looks good, but Gorby still has a cold WAR

Top Young Newsbreakers

For those of you that have been following the off-season hot stove action on the famed website Twitter dot com you probably know that there has been a lot of talk about the new young crop of reporters taking the baseball world by storm. Last year, through hard work and an impressive rolodex of #sources, Chris Cotillo made a name for himself. Cotillo’s success seems to have inspired the next generation of adolescent Bob Woodwards. These kids have taken to the Twitterverse to apply their perspective, knowledge, and youth to the hot stove action we know and love. Let’s take a look at some of these wunderkinds:

 

Jake Wesley (@MLB_NL_AL_FederalLeague_NegroLeagues_NPB_NCAAD1_NCAAD2_LLWS)

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.22.38 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jake Wesley has been the source of controversy this offseason as the validity of his so called reports has been called into question. Whether a result of luck, magic, or hard work, Jake has had success in establishing himself among baseball aristocracy. While at 14 years old Wesley is younger than most established reporters, he is the elder statesmen of this new crop of youngsters and many of these youngsters cite Jake’s success as their inspiration. Jake’s journalistic integrity, spelling skills, and willingness to listen to his mother could certainly use some work, but that’s the case with most 14 year olds. Keep an eye on this leader of the lunchroom because he might be your boss before you know it.

 

Ricky Shaw (@NewCubsNews)

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.36.57 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this prepubescent insider might not seem like much at first glance, to overlook Ricky would be an enormous mistake. The kid has fight, fire, and firetrucks in his room and is “dedicated to putting the work in.” His aptitude with modern technology could be called into question as the phone he is holding in his profile picture seems to have been made in 2004, but Ricky makes up for what he lacks in electronics with his immense collection of tri-colored Under Armour shirts. His impressive wardrobe coupled with the astonishingly wet nature of his hair means that Ricky truly is a kid to be taken seriously.

 

Fetus To Be Named Later (@FetusInsideMLB)

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.02.43 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this is downright impressive. The only MLB reporter still physically connected to his mother, Fetus To Be Named Later, or FTBNL as he has been called, has been able to take the baseball world by storm without the help of a smart phone, mouth, or fingers. After breaking the Clint Barmes signing, FTBNL tweeted out that he couldn’t wait to actually see Clint play once he finally got out of his mother’s birth canal. Even though he has never seen a baseball game in person, his mother has been swallowing baseball cards so FTBNL has been able to get a good sense for the ins and outs of the game. It’s really amazing what this thing has been able to do so far in his young “life” and I’m excited to see what he can do once he actually gets out of the womb.

New York Mets Top 10 Shirseys

The actual baseballs are over and winter has set in, which means it’s time to talk about shirts. We are resuming our Top 10 Shirsey lists because we don’t have anything else to write about right now. So sit back, relax, and get ready to spend some money on some old shirts you don’t want or need.

Click here for the rest of our Top 10 Shirsey lists

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.16.57 PM  1. Carlos Baerga

  Size: XL

  Current Status: Available

  Website: eBay

  Price: $9.99 + $4.95 Shipping

eBay Description: “It measures 23″ armpit to armpit”

Player Notes: Baerga was only on the Mets for three years. He was traded to New York from Cleveland for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino. I don’t think it’s true, but the internet tells me that Carlos Baerga was on the Nats in 2005. My favorite thing about Carlos Baerga is that he was a delegate for Rick Santorum in the 2012 Republican Primary. Carlos Baerga and Rick Santorum go together like peanut butter and jean shorts.

Shirsey Notes: The three years Baerga spent as a Met were 96′, 97′, and 98′, which means that this shirsey is at least 16 years old. Without carbon dating we’ll never know for sure, but there’s a good chance this is the oldest shirsey on the internet. This artifact, criminally undervalued at only $9.99, doesn’t belong in the drawers of some New Yorker’s childhood bedroom. A relic like this deserves to be displayed prominently in a museum and I will not rest until it is so. In other news, I think I just wrote the script for the next Indiana Jones movie: Indiana Jones and the Legend of Baerga.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 11.02.56 PM 2. Kaz Matsui

 Size: M

 Current Status: Available

 Website: eBay

 Price: $25.00 buy it now. $9.00 starting bid.

eBay Description: “This is a pair of black Majestic New York Mets Crossbar Synthetic shorts in a size S. I will also throw in a free Kazuo Matsui name and number shirt in a size M. I need to pay my property tax bill.”

Player Notes: Kaz Matsui holds one of the most absurd records in MLB history that you probably didn’t know. He’s the only player to hit a dinger in his first at-bat of his first three seasons. He was also the first Japanese infielder to ever sign with a MLB team. This is a montage of photos from only Kaz’s time on the Astros that is set to a song called “Ganja Smuggling.” YouTube is an amazingly weird place.

Shirsey Notes: By far the most unique thing about this shirsey is that the seller is literally giving it away for free. Sure you have to fork over a few bucks for an old pair of shorts, but you get a KAZ MATSUI SHIRSEY FOR NOTHING. Makes you think that there must be something particularly fishy about those shorts. Also, I don’t know a lot about paying taxes, but I don’t think selling a pair of shorts and a Kazuo Matsui Mets shirsey is going to get the job done.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 11.04.04 PM 3. Mike Piazza

 Size: M/XL

 Current Status: Available

 Website: eBay

 Price: $12.50

eBay Description: “Shirt is BRAND NEW, NEVER WORN, with TAGS ATTACHED. Image on the shirt is screen printed (front & back), with GLITTER (see pictures)”

Player Notes: Mike Piazza is maybe the greatest Met of all time. It’s either him, David Wright, Dwight Gooden, Drew Gooden, or Shingo Takatsu. It might be any of those guys, but it’s actually not because it’s definitely Benny Agbayani. Here’s a video of Mike Piazza doing the Joe Mauer Head and Shoulders ad 15 years before Joe Mauer did it.

Shirsey Notes: There are certainly questions about whether or not this… thing should qualify as a shirsey. The term used throughout the post to describe this entity is “Jersey Dress Shirt.” This is the perfect gift for anyone still living in 2004.

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 4. Omar Quintanilla

 Size: N/A

 Current Status: Not Available

 Website: Twitter

 Price: N/A

Player Notes: Omar Quintanilla is one of those guys most people assume is from a Latin-American country, but is actually just from Texas. Aside from this amazing picture in which he looks absolutely stoned, Omar is known for having a last name that sounds like quesadilla. He has 6 seasons with a negative WAR, which looks pretty awful until you realize that he is one of the best 2,000 baseball players in the world.

Shirsey Notes:  Thanks to Twitter user @molliegalchus for sending this one in. She also let me know that she and her father have matching Omar Quintanilla shirseys, one Orioles and one Mets. Mollie, I don’t know if you’re married, but I hope that at your wedding you and your father do that father-daughter dance thing in your matching Omar Quintanilla shirseys. I assume that’s what every girl dreams about her wedding night. I’ll arrange a slow dance version of “Meet the Mets” just for you and your father. Another idea, all the groomsmen wear Orioles Quintanilla shirseys and all the bridesmaids wear Mets Quintanilla shirseys.

 5. Jerry SeinfeldB30sSL4CEAAEAfa

 Size: N/A

 Current Status: Not Available

 Website: Twitter

 Price: N/A

Player Notes: Seinfeld slugged .424 in 1996 with 3 RBI’s in 6 at-bats in a Wiffle ball game at the beach with his kids. A combination of a below-average hit tool, a significant lack of athleticism, and an inability to avoid distractions off the field stunted Jerry’s developmental growth and restricted him from ever making it to the majors.

Shirsey Notes: THIS IS THE MOST METS SHIRSEY OF ALL TIME. It’s not really all that close. Most people know that it’s a proven fact that 85% of Mets fans are Jewish dads who grew up on Long Island and know every single line of every single Seinfeld episode. Thank you @mkraust. I can only assume that your Rabbi gave you this for your birthday.

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Episode 51: Too Much Too Many Cooks

Welcome to Barbecast 51! It’s been a while since the spectacular celebration that was Barbecast 50, but we’re back with another solid podcast. This week’s special guest (at 20:25) is World Series champion Grant Brisbee, writer at SB Nation’s Giants blog, McCovey Chronicles, and overall good guy. We talked to Grant about how the Giants did the whole Win The World Series thing for the third time in five years, how San Francisco treats Barry Bonds, Grant’s ideal offseason, and some other fun stuff before Jake interrupted with whatever the hell this video is. After Grant (at 1:02:57), we did our customary B-Ref Battle which included an incredible story about a player named Pumpsie. The usual. After B-Ref (at 1:23:15), Tales from Logdog with Lana Berry covered TOO MANY COOKS because of course it did. We tried to comprehend what it all means and discussed our favorite characters. Gwydion is the only right answer. After Lana (at 1:31:14) we decided to actually talk about some baseball! We discussed who we would like our respective favorite teams to sign and more importantly, who we are desperately praying that they don’t sign. After free agency (at 1:47:07) talk was THE RETURN OF CRAIG GOLDSTEIN for the second week in a row! We only brought Craig back to talk about his recent Twitter calamity in which he was destroyed by one Peter Gammons. We feel pretty bad for Craig, but we made him talk about it anyway. We concluded with a non-existent Varsity Baseball Update and a very brief discussion on former pitcher Kirk Saarloos. Thanks for listening <3

Musical guest: 2Many Cooks

IMPORTANT LINKS:

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cespedes-family-barbecue-cespedes/id683535357

Link to all previous podcasts: http://cespedesfamilybarbecue.com/the-barbecast-cfb-podcast/

Tweeterz: https://twitter.com/CespedesBBQ

Click here to join our Facebook group!

Click here for the RSS feed

Click here to find us on Stitcher!

 

Episode 50: That’s Good, That’s Really Good

RIP Oscar Taveras

Welcome to Barbecast 50! While we did have an especially extravagant Episode 25, we think we’ve outdone it for this milestone Barbecast. We have two special guests, and one regular guest (Craig). Our first special guest (at 20:54) is Will Leitch! Will is a lot of things; among those things, Will is a senior writer at Sports On Earth and the founder of Deadspin. So that’s pretty cool. We talked to Will about his time as a starving artist in NYC, the evolution of Deadspin, his Cardinals fandom, and of course, the tragic death of Oscar Taveras. Our second special guest (at 1:12:35) this week is former major league reliever Chris Resop! If you don’t understand why that’s amazing, you should probably click here. Chris is a real estate agent now, so we talked about that, and you know, the other stuff about Chris Resop. It was pretty awesome. After our two fantastic guests, we participated in yet another B-Ref Battle Bonanza with six more wonderful names from yesteryear. After B-Ref was yet another Tales from Logdog (at 1:46:53) with Lana Berry in which we discussed Halloween briefly and reminded ourselves that Lana picked the Royals to win the World Series in 7 games. She was wrong :( After Lana (at 1:52:35) was the return of our good friend Craig Goldstein. We love Craig. He had to be on Barbecast 50. We concluded with our new segment, Random Baseball Players From 2002-2007, as well as the weekly Varsity Baseball Update from Jake and some brief thanks to all you who listen. As always, thanks for listening <3

Musical guest: Barbecast 50 Cent

IMPORTANT LINKS:

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cespedes-family-barbecue-cespedes/id683535357

Link to all previous podcasts: http://cespedesfamilybarbecue.com/the-barbecast-cfb-podcast/

Tweeterz: https://twitter.com/CespedesBBQ

Click here to join our Facebook group!

Click here for the RSS feed

Click here to find us on Stitcher!

Oscar Taveras Tribute Video

Sick. That’s how I felt when we heard the news that Oscar Taveras, the future Cardinals superstar, had died tragically in a car accident. As the news broke and was eventually confirmed on Twitter, it felt like someone had sucker punched me in the stomach.

I assume this is how most of the baseball community felt as well. The World Series, however riveting it may be, suddenly felt unwatchable. At the core, baseball is a game played by young men, and the fact that one of these young men lost his life instantly becomes more important than whatever Madison Bumgarner is going to do tonight.

I’m not sure what the “proper” way to react to this news is. Maybe this video is insensitive and if it offends you I’m genuinely sorry, but in times of sadness it’s helpful to find comfort in the tangible.

Oscar Taveras was going to be a superstar. Scouts and prognosticators all agreed that this kid had the potential to do amazing things between the lines. The thing is, he had already become something amazing. Hundreds of thousands of young Dominican kids dream of one day playing in the big leagues. Taveras died having already fulfilled that dream.

I didn’t know Oscar Taveras. Chances are neither did you. But for whatever reason, right now, it feels like we did. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. May they find peace in this difficult time.

Rest in peace, Oscar. You were fucking awesome.

 

Episode 49: The Part Where It’s Not Food

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Welcome to Barbecast 49! It’s not quite Barbecast 50, but it’s pretty damn close. We have THREE special guests this week. Although, to be fair, we’ve had all three of these guests on before. Our first guest (at 16:54) is Matt Clark, the official MAJOR leaguer of the Cespedes Family Barbecue. We talked to Matt about his long, complicated season that was topped off by his first call-up to the big leagues with the Brewers. Our second special guest (at 43:18) is Jake’s Mom! We spent a solid 10 minutes debating whether it is safe for Jake to eat a baseball. Our third special guest (at 55:41) is the official MINOR leaguer of the Cespedes Family Barbecue, Kieran Lovegrove! Kieran just had Barry Bonds Hip Surgery, so he’s rehabbing in Arizona, but he carved some time out of his busy schedule to recap his season with us. After our three guests, we did the customary B-Ref Battle in which we present three of our favorite. Tales from Logdog with Lana Berry recapped Jake’s ridiculous trip to Kansas City to see the Orioles’ season end…so that was kinda depressing. We concluded with A NEW SEGMENT featuring a discussion on Reggie Abercrombie and an uneventful Varsity Baseball Update. Thanks for listening <3

Musical Guest: HOVA

IMPORTANT LINKS:

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cespedes-family-barbecue-cespedes/id683535357

Link to all previous podcasts: http://cespedesfamilybarbecue.com/the-barbecast-cfb-podcast/

Tweeterz: https://twitter.com/CespedesBBQ

Click here to join our Facebook group!

Click here for the RSS feed

Click here to find us on Stitcher!

The Things We Do For Sports

Sports are a silly thing.

 

I just took an overnight bus from St. Louis to Kansas City just so I could see my favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles, play one more playoff game against the Kansas City Royals. My roommates dropped me off on an abandoned street corner in downtown St. Louis at 12:45 where the bus stop was supposed to be. They had a chemistry exam to study for so I was on my own, except for the homeless man who oddly enough asked me if I wanted HIS jacket. After a good 20 minutes of confusion, my vehicular steed appeared out of the night. The Megabus had arrived.

 

Once seated upstairs, I began to doze off into slumber when I was suddenly awoken by the driver of the bus. Apparently someone had put a dog into the luggage compartment below and the driver was determined to deduce the identity of the owner. “WHO DOG? WHO DOG? WHO DOG?” he bellowed across the cabin. All of a sudden and to no one in particular he yelled, “HEY TRINA. CALL THE POLICE. WE GOT DOG.” Whether or not this man understood how to use the word “a” was extremely unclear. Eventually he grew bored of his crusade and returned to the steering wheel beneath me. It’s a shame too, I guess we’ll never know “WHO DOG” it really was.

 

Four and a half rocky hours of sleep later I arrived in Kansas City at 6 AM. Thankfully enough there was a diner right across from the bus stop where I was able to procure a hot meal. I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks, where I plan to be for the next hour or so until the library opens so I can finish Tolstoy’s War and Peace snag a quick nap. I spent over 250 bucks on the bus, hotel, and tickets for the game. And for what? So I can take a cab out to Kauffman Stadium to watch my team finish its swift playoff disintegration? So I can surround myself with (rightfully) ecstatic Royals fans who so eagerly anticipate their first AL title since 1985? So I can return to St. Louis defeated and dismayed?

 

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Kansas City at 6:45 AM

 

The Orioles could very well win tonight, tomorrow, return home and take game 6 and 7. They could win four straight and become the second team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. They could continue that momentum into the World Series and roll over the Giants/Cards. They could ignite the entire city of Baltimore with their resilient comebacks and memorable performances. Adam Jones could put his name up there with Cal, Brooks, and the boys by bouncing back from a rough start to the postseason and lead his team to the Promised Land. Nelson Cruz could further cement his argument as the greatest postseason power hitter of all time. Ubaldo Jimenez could get a World Series ring (LOL). By winning four straight this team could make an entire generation of O’s fans forget about a decade and a half of painful Augusts and boring Octobers.

 

Unfortunately, chances are that none of this happens.

 

The Orioles will probably lose this series. Jason Vargas will probably turn into tubby Kershaw 2.0 or James Shields will be James Shields or Terrance Gore will hit a walk off home run or any other number of absurd possible alternate realities will take place. I, and the rest of the rational baseball universe, know the Orioles don’t have a good chance, but I’m here in Kansas City nonetheless.

 

Baseball, and baseball fandom in particular, is all about the idea of possibility. There’s a reason fans make a premeditated decision to go to Florida or Arizona in the spring. There’s a reason Opening Day is sold out at almost every park. There’s a reason I’m sitting in this Starbucks on only 4 hours of sleep. We as fans latch on to hope and possibility, clinging to the edge of the cliff until survival is no longer possible. We all cherish the fact that one day, just maybe, that team lifting the trophy will be ours. We hold on until a championship team is mathematically impossible. We do these seemingly irrational things because sports provide us with comfort, community, and a sense of shared experience.

 

Tonight hundreds of thousands of Orioles fans will gather around their television sets, hoping that they won’t be doing so for the last time this season. They’ll suffer through numerous references to the fact that the “Royals just have it this year” (They actually do, and good for all the Royals fans. You really do deserve it). Enduring Adam Jones pop-out after Adam Jones pop-out they’ll remain in front of their TV’s because until that final out, there’s always a chance. Until a youthful throng of Royal blue races towards the pitchers mound in jubilation and until Kansas City is coated head to toe in mediocre champagne, there’s a reason for O’s fans to watch, there’s a reason for Baltimore to believe, there’s a reason I’ll be decked out in all my Orioles orange at game four later tonight.

So you’re sayin there’s a chance, eh?