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.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.