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An important note on nostalgia

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Bob Ryan tweeted this a little while ago:

Such sentiments are so common. And not just the specific sentiment about the pre-division pennant races. I’m talking about the general sentiment that that which happened during one’s youth was the best thing ever.

Most of us are guilty of this from time to time. Of advocating the notion that what occurred when we were kids — or, more often, when we were in our 20s — was the greatest version of said thing ever. Bob Ryan was 21 when the 1967 Sox won the pennant so of course he loved it. People love almost EVERYTHING when they’re 21. The Braves beat out the Giants in the last non-wild card pennant race in 1993. I was 20 then. People my age tend to think that was when pennant races were pennant races and, God, it’s all been a load of crap since. You can bet that someone who was 21 when game 163 was played a couple of years ago will one day tell their kids about how amazing that was.

But there’s a subtle difference between saying that you enjoyed the stuff of your youth and claiming that it was superior to everything that came after. In the former case you’re just being human and looking back at your salad days with rose colored glasses. That’s harmless and understandable. It’s why I’ll never not talk about old “Night Court” episodes or British synth-pop from the 80s.

But the latter case — saying that the stuff you enjoyed was better than all of the stuff now — is just old fogeyism. Sad and somewhat pathetic old fogeyism too inasmuch as you are devaluing that which other people enjoy simply because you do not. God, don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. No one says you have to like the new stuff — I sure as heck don’t like a lot of things that people in their 20s like today — but don’t claim that you have some monopoly on taste and that today’s youth are misguided. Or at least don’t claim that it’s bad that they are. Being misguided about stuff is a damn important part of being young. An enjoyable one at times. And a state of being which makes all of the things that are great about being young possible.

But whatever the case, learning the difference between “I love the stuff I enjoyed in my 20s” and “the stuff that happened in my 20s was THE BEST” is pretty key to one’s happiness. And is essential to one continuing to learn and enjoy new things as one grows old. Because it’s merely a preference. Not a stop sign.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.