Welcome to my Journal! I know you didn't mean to pry, but you've just opened the pages of many a diary, notebook, scratchpad, envelope-back, from many years, past, present, and future. I've been a baseball fan for 30 years, since the Impossible Dream Red Sox pennant of 1967, and I've always liked to convey the feelings, hopes, thoughts, and experiences of baseball in writing, sometimes to others, sometimes just to myself (Sox fans should understand the need for such therapy). Now, here comes the Internet, and my chance to send those writings out to the wide world of baseball nuts everywhere.
Feel free to leaf through any of the entries, from the most recent to those of days long gone. Just try not to get the pages all sticky, okay? And come back often, because I'll be adding new entries all the time. Of course, I welcome responses, too, and I'll even print some if you give me permission. Enjoy!
This has been the most fascinating and amazing Red Sox season I can ever remember, and let me tell you why. ALSO: Line up, everyone, and how the Races are shaping up.
The numbers tell the story. Any way you slice them, there has been a dramatic change in baseball this season. It is hard to believe, even amazing, that a single edict from the Commissioner for umpires to "enforce" the technical definition of the strike zone could alter the fortunes of so many hitters and pitchers, and of overall performance throughout the leagues, as seriously as has occurred to date this year. But that's the case, as the numbers reveal.
I know myself well enough to accept the fact that I like to be a contrarian much of the time, and this is especially true when it comes to baseball. Conventional wisdom? Must be wrong, it's so conventional. . . . The more I look at it, the more I continue to like this Red Sox team's chances, at least to make the playoffs, probably by winning the A.L. East outright, rather than by the undignified Wild Card route.
I hope if the Kansas City Royals trade Johnny Damon before this season, that they get pretty good compensation back, since they'll be handing some other team the 2001 American League MVP (assuming he stays in the A.L.). Then again, maybe they won't be too crucified for doing so, since they'll still retain two more of the top 5 MVP candidates, anyway.
In this edition, Red Sox post-mortem; Who's the favorite, now?; Where'd the homers go?; and Team Clutch. In other words, lots of stuff to get you through the post-season, and the post-post-season.
We are now heading toward the stretch run of this 1998 baseball campaign, and you might think it should be a pretty boring final month of the regular season. After all, the only close Division race is in the AL West, with all the others long since decided. But the invention of the Wild Card, blasphemy for many of us, has created a semblance of pennant races in both leagues, enough to make a hefty percentage of the remaining games meaningful for many fans. And Yankee fans, of course, can root for their team even though they're 150 games ahead in the loss column, as they close in all the all-time record for wins. Then there's that little matter of the Maris chase, which will have the ancillary effect of keeping even casual fans tuned into baseball in general more than usual this September.
In this edition, Inter-im (on interleague play); The other historic season (who is having it?); Tater updater (How are the homers going?); and All Star squad (My annual forecast).
Is it just me, or is this turning out to be the most entertaining baseball season in many years? We've got McGwire's nightly pyrotechnics, along with the slugging of Sosa and Griffey (but not the entire major leagues, see below). We've got Kerry Wood and Hideki Irabu and Rolando Arrojo and Bartolo Colon, reviving the notion that pitching can excell in the 1990s (especially if you have a lot of vowels in your name). We've got an incredible Yankee juggernaut, but also a scrappy, loveable Red Sox underdog. We've got the Cubs in a pennant race, big names changing teams, perfect game, 20 strikeouts, winning streaks, beanball brawls . . . is there anything more we could want from baseball?
With April nearly behind us, and a surprisingly low number of shower-outs (but one roof-out), we can submit to our first review of developments in this 1998 baseball season. Remember the predictions of January and February? I said home runs would be down, not up, and young pitchers would be good, not lousy, this season. The reasoning is there for you to review. With about 1/8 of the games played, how does my neck out on the limb look, compared with the bobbing heads of the "Expansion will bring a new offensive explosion" yeah-sayers?
Okay, the gauntlet (or maybe the mitt) has now been thrown, and I am officially taking a stand as a contrarian, in opposition to the prevailing Conventional Wisdom throughout baseball punditry:
No one will break Roger Maris's home run record this year, nor any time in the foreseeable future. And American League home run totals will not significantly increase in 1998 over 1997, and will more likely decline.
Every year, I like to take a step back and check the advancement toward immortality (or obscurity) of our the current greats of the game. Who's in line to enter Cooperstown 5 years after they retire? Who's getting closer to the threshold, and who's run into a brick wall? The files in this section go back to 1990, when I started this exercise, and show the progress of stars over the course of the decade. The next Watch will be due soon, so send in your entries, soon!
(This archive will expand over time, as I upload more of my older writings.) Some of these entries are pretty irrelevant, involving predictions or analysis of past seasons, Red Sox teams, and so forth. Others relate stories and opinions about baseball experiences and issues, which may still be of interest today. In any event, since baseball love thrives on memories, there is a lot to cherish here. Check them out when you're feeling nostalgic.
Rotisserie/Fantasy Baseball Hotline
**(Coming Spring 1998)
The Good IV League
Comments? Questions? Mystical utterances?
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David N. Townsend: The Site
(c) 1997 David N. Townsend