So the Atlanta Braves just downed the Houston Astros in a terrific 6-game World Series! That’s right, they #BeatTheCheat! And while the Yankees lost the Wild Card Game to the hated rival, Boston Red Sox, now things get interesting — for me, anyway.
I know I’m not alone in this feeling though, because there is so much coverage of professional sports during their respective offseasons! Free agency, the winter meetings & “Hot Stove” shows named specifically after the tradition of guys huddling around wood-burning stoves in the winter, talking about their baseball team’s expected personnel moves for the upcoming season.
They’ll take a pretty deep dive into a player’s stats over the past few seasons, look at their contract status for the upcoming season and try their best to determine where said player fits on the team or whether they’ll be trade bait for other teams and what could be gotten in such a trade. Also, because it’s a series and not just a one-off show, they’ll also take into account acquisitions that the team has made and try to predict how a new player will fit in with the other pieces currently in place on the team. On top of all of the news for your team, they’ll also rundown the deals that have also been struck by other clubs & how they impact those teams going forward, including who might become available via trade due to said new acquisition and how it might impact the rest of the league or division, while also running down the list of free agents still available on the market. It’s really a fun in-depth view for the die-hard fan!
Teams can look incredibly different from a personnel perspective between the end of one season and the day that pitchers & catchers report to Spring Training the following February. New coaches, managers, players…being a Yankees fan, it’s always expected that they’ll be active during the offseason. Especially during the days when George Steinbrenner was still with us…sometimes he’d personally go and get us a nice Christmas present like signing David Wells back as a free agent in 2001. I’ll always miss those days and how active The Boss was in trying to perfect his team. Hell, I can remember just a few years ago when the Yankees secured the services of Gerrit Cole as their new ace, signing him for 9 years at a record $324M & texting my cousin “GERRIT COLE IS A NEW YORK YANKEE!!!” Likewise, when the Jets signed Le’Veon Bell. These times can sometimes be more exciting than the regular season. If you like the frenzied feeling of all the personnel moves that happen at the trade deadline, then your fandom shouldn’t stop with the last game your team plays in a given season.
And all this offseason excitement is certainly not specific to Major League Baseball. The National Football League certainly has it’s own exciting offseason with free agency, their hugely hyped & heavily watched NFL Draft, where draft positions change in the blink of an eye as teams battle to one-up each other to acquire the hottest prospects to better their team. Plus, with the NFL Network, there’s constantly their own roundtable discussion shows detailing each team’s offseason progression while addressing how each team might fare better or worse as compared to the season before.
And while the NHL, NBA & MLB Drafts might not come with all the hoopla that the NFL’s does, they’re still out there to watch. In terms of immediate impact to the team though, no draft sports the “change is in the air” feeling that the NFL’s does, and that’s because a number of the early round picks can be seen playing for the team the following season. The NBA would probably be the next impactful in terms of how soon you get to see said draft picks playing for their teams. Followed by the NHL, where players can be drafted while also finishing out their college careers before being brought over to the NHL’s farm system before you get to see the players on the ice. Often times, you’ll only really see the first round picks moved to the NHL team immediately. And with Major League Baseball, it’s far more common to not see a draft pick reach the major leagues for a number of years, if ever, just because of the multi-tiered farm system. Players go from Rookie Ball to Class A Short Season, to Class A Advanced, Double A & Triple A before being called up to the major league team, and oftentimes, those draft picks, now known as prospects in the major league team’s farm system will be packaged together in trades.
Case-in-point: Yankees Shortstop/Second Baseman, Gleyber Torres. Gleyber was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 2013 as an International Free Agent from Venezuela, went through the Cubs’ farm system, playing Rookie Ball & Class A Advanced by July of 2015. The Cubs traded him along with three other players to the Yankees for closer, Aroldis Chapman, who helped the Cubs win their first World Series in over a century. The following spring (2016), Torres was sent to the Yankees’ Class A Advanced & was promoted up to Double A to start the 2017 season, then Triple A by mid-May. And though he was at the Yankees’ Spring Training in 2018, he was optioned back to Triple A to start the season, and called up to the Major League club on April 22nd for good.
So looking back, Gleyber Torres took four plus years to make it up to the majors, playing for a different team than the one that had originally signed him — and he was a highly touted prospect! There are literally hundreds of players who see a far longer stay in multiple farm systems who oftentimes never see the major leagues at all. Or, there are others who might be called up for a stretch of games to fill in on the major league club, but beyond that stint, never see the big leagues again. So clearly, the Major League Baseball draft is the one that you can honestly miss just for the simple fact that the initial impact of a drafted player is really non-existent. But this is still all stuff that’s out there to read and enhance your knowledge & fandom in professional sports.
Hell, I can remember a number of years ago now, hearing about an ambidextrous pitcher in the Yankees farm system who could pitch righty AND lefty depending on the batter & being excited to see him on the Major League club…however, after being in the Yankees’ farm system for six years, the Yankees cut him loose. And though he’s made numerous short stays on the Major League level for Oakland, Toronto, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Miami, he’s spent FAR more of his career pitching in the minors with numerous other clubs before stepping away from the sport this past Spring.
What I’m getting at here is that you can be a fan during the season, watch the games & watch through the playoffs to see who ultimately is able call themselves the Champion, but if your fandom stops there and you’re left sitting in front of your television just like Vince McMahon on the day after the Super Bowl, wondering “Where the hell is my football?”, you’re really missing the whole picture!
So just because baseball season is over, don’t turn off your TV and wonder about next year…stay an active fan and continue to follow your team and it’s offseason! The information is out there, you just have to search for it.
Thanks for reading!
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