A couple of years ago I wrote a couple posts at my old Shysterball blog running down what — in my opinion anyway — were the best and worst all-time looks for each team. It was pretty popular as far as my old Blogspot posts were concerned, so I figure that, in the absence of any fun news, it was worth dusting off the idea and doing it again.
The only difference: attention spans have gotten way shorter since the ancient days of 2008, so I’ll be taking it team by team, rolling this baby out over the next few days. First up: the NL East, starting with the World Series champion — er, what’s that? Wait, they had Hallday, Hamels and Oswalt! What happened? Wow, you just never know in this game, do ya! — N.L. East Champion Philadelphia Phillies!
The Best: Thanks to recent success, their current look — or the Whiz Kid look — is probably considered the classic. I like it, but I like it when they mix in the blue on Sundays too. I may even like it better and if you put a gun to my head I’d say that the current alternates are their best look, even if it’s somewhat jarring, historically speaking. Along those lines, my mind hasn’t changed on these underrated 1930-40s numbers with the blue accents. It helps that Philly lost a hundred games year-in, year-out back when they wore those numbers, as everything is better about the Phillies when they’re losing.
The Worst: I never liked the big-P stuff they wore in the 1970s and 80s. The 1979 numbers — with the alternate all reds — were pretty terrible themselves.
Assessment: The Phillies have landed on a good, classic look and will likely stick with it for a good long time. To the extent they’ve gotten crazy over the years it’s just because they’ve had a really spotted history and, hey, why not experiment? And at least their unfortunate 70s look — which almost every team had — was accompanied by a lot of good play on the field, and that takes the edge off of such things.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .