The Rays were totally grunge the other night. Well, not really.

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As we’ve mentioned before, Joe Maddon has taken to having the Rays play dress up when they travel. Sometimes they wear suits, sometimes they wear camo, sometimes they wear 70s disco stuff.  You get the idea.  Hey, gotta do something to arrest the boredom of travel. I mean, you can only read SkyMall so many times.

On their trip out to Seattle on Wednesday the Rays did something new: the grunge look.  Or, rather, a look that almost, but not entirely, was nothing like grunge.  Click here to see the team pic in Larry Stone’s article in the Seattle Times. Here’s Larry’s description.

Maddon’s theme for the trip to Seattle for a four-game series which begins with tonight’s pitching duel between Felix Hernandez and James Shields, was the obvious: Grunge. And he solicited the Rays’ Grunge-meister, Johnny Damon, to customize the players’ shirts for the occasion. Damon, who likes to wear his T-shirts with the sleeves cut off, warmed up to the task.

Larry seems like a very nice man so he was polite about it, but I’m not so nice so I will reproduce the first comment to Stone’s story because it captures my thoughts on the matter perfectly: “More ambiguously gay lumberjack than grunge but good for team cohesiveness I guess.”

Also, private note to the dude second from the right in the back row: wearing a Nirvana shirt from Hot Topic is to grunge what wearing a t-shirt that literally says “hippie” on it would be to a 1960s look or what a Fonzie shirt would be for the 50s. Just a bit too on-the-nose, you know?  Oh well, it’s not like I have any cred here. Yes, I was 18 around at the time the grunge thing took off, so it should be in my wheelhouse, but really, I looked way more like Zack Morris or an understudy for Color Me Badd between 1991 and 1994 than I looked like Cobain.

In other grunge news, there is no question that Dave Grohl has aged better than the other two members of Nirvana, but I’m rather shocked at how close the race for second place really is.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves