Our own “Hat Steve” Action, tepid reporter, has been delivering the goods to us from the floor of the Winter Meetings where he has been hiding among the nutcracker army in the grand floor display at the Convention Center. His missives are heavily encoded and delivered by carrier salmon, so we tend to receive most information long after it is old news, but at the same time, we sent his notice of termination in identical fashion, so at least it’s free labor.
Around this time last year, the Right Honourable Brian, Lord Reinhart, W.B.E. &c. laid before the Commentariat and consortium the prospect and duty of electing the 2015 Banknotes Industries MVP. Perhaps he shall raise the banner again in 2016; though as he is at present in repose, bare-chested and slathered with a thick, red wine mushroom sauce highlighted with hints of honey dijon, the haste with which he is at leisure to address said task is decidedly limited. In the spirit of golden gloves and silver slugs, we shall entertain a metaphorical writerly mound visit and hand out some lesser hardware to stall.
You, dearish reader, said to yourself a season ago or so, “My, but if that Theo Epstein builds a Cubs team that wins a World Series — two famous franchises and two famous ‘curses’ broken? — he’s a Hall of Famer for sure, no matter whom he sexually punches toward the end of his career!” No doubt you and all those who said similar were and are correct. But, ah, the question is: Which hat does he wear?
No, no, unfurrow thy brow, for we at Banknotes Industries know as well as thou dost — if not better — that the executive does not wear a team cap. The choice for young Epstein is pointed or floppy, broad-brimmed or star-topped, solid or patterned; for young Epstein, scion of sweathogs, is a wizard. How else could one unweave such potent ensorcellments as chained the Red Sox and Cubs to historical failure? Otherwise, we should be suggesting that the very notion of “curses” is a silly one, that indeed ours is a world without magic. How dull, how overmodern, how like a Hollywood Injun.
The Chicago Cubs of the National League have won the World Series, here, now, recently, in 2016 of the calendar you know; and, as such an incident clearly pursued and involved items of magic — including and featuring curses, goats, curse-breaking, enchantment and sorcery, spells and science — and perhaps some on-field action, we will surely be publishing investigative pieces in the near future. In the meantime, as there are no other events of significant concern to America or the world on the close horizon, you can go ahead and just relax for a while.
At the outset of these playoffs, I proposed that it should be a fine incident if the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians were to meet one another in the World Series. This suggestion met with notes of disfavor in some of those to whom it was leveled, amidst complaints secondarily that it would be unexciting or have the appearance of a fix, and primarily as it would create as an inevitability that one franchise’s “curse” should end. Yes, that is rather what I was getting at, I explained but moved none of the complainers. As much as sports championships or their lack mean anything, this year’s contest puts a great deal before us.
As brisk as the autumn air was his step; leaves turned bright hues overhead were little mirrors; Chief Wahoo was on a mission. Others might have worn their determination on their features, but he was forever buoyant. He was not the first to arrive at the meeting hall; in fact, he may have been the last. That was all right; they might not all know that he had called this conclave otherwise. This was important.
All the logos were assembled: Mister Windsor had been driven down from New England; headquarters being in New York, Reb Giovanni was playing host, setting out pastrami and salami, knishes and cannoli; Big Daddy Leon and Bubba Billy-Bob were joshing each other about southern team sympathies; Wang-san and Señor Vato maintained their endless debate on west coast fandom; the great room was churning with voices.
As you know, last week, the Toronto Blue Jays’ Wild Card Game victory over the Baltimore Orioles was punctuated by a home fan hurling a can of beer at Orioles’ outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, recalling for many a similar incident in last year’s playoffs, in which likeminded characters threw garbage and other items onto the field in a heated moment, culminating in a baby in attendance being doused with beer. The baby was then itself tossed onto the field, because as it turns out, they may not, per Harold Reynolds, be able to catch, but Blue Jays fans are only too thrilled to throw objects at baseball games.
Curtains up on PITCHER, C.S., and CATCHER, crossing to stage left of center.
I want to throw this guy a fastball.
You wanted to throw the first guy a fastball. It still hasn’t landed.
As the final weeks of regular season play bear down upon us, frothy and chomping, rabid with glee, we would like to take a brief and largely premature look back at some predictions that were made by the BNI staff some five or six months younger, as part of our effort to make demonstrations of professionalism that mean very little, except that the bar for accountability in sports journalism is so low we cannot even trip over it.
1. Who will win the AL East?
There’s a tight four-team competition for the AL East, with only the Rays knocked out of contention. With the current leader — Boston — finishing the season with series in Toronto and New York, the division may not be won until the final game of the season.
2. Can Daniel Murphy stay hot in the playoffs?
In the 2015 post-season, Daniel Murphy hit an astounding 7 homers in just 14 games. That offensive explosion has carried over into the 2016 regular season and has earned the Pride of Jacksonville University serious MVP consideration.
3. Can the Cubs break the all-time win record?
With 93 wins and only 17 games left, can the Cubs break the 2001 Seattle Mariners’ record of 116 wins in a single season? Joe Maddon recently said, “No, that’s not mathematically possible.” But that’s not likely to stop them from trying. Stay tuned!
4. Will Tebow arrive in time to save the Mets’ season?
Ten games behind the Nationals and stinging from the departure of JU alum Daniel Murphy, the Mets could really use a 30-year-old broadcaster-turned-outfielder who hasn’t played baseball since high school. Manager Terry Collins has intimated over the past week that the team plans to have him play two-ways, both offense and defense, though it is unclear whether he will be expected to run the option while hitting.
5. Yankees fans expected to start paying attention soon!
As the season winds down, New York fans are beginning to awaken from their year-long abstinence from actually caring about baseball to check on how the Yankees are doing in the playoffs. According to ESPN, if the Yankees fans awaken and don’t see the Yankees in the playoffs, then the MLB post-season will end early, and the NFL football season will be in full swing. But if the Yankees see a playoff team, then the MLB postseason will be long and bloated and overfull with documentaries about Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and not about how uneven wealth is definitely ruining baseball.