A short, thoughtful look at baseball’s first two weeks of 2023


The Mets are bringing a boatload of expensive new players to CitiField this season.Photo byZakarie Faibis, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

By Jeff Kallman

The Trevor Bauer saga ended for now with the Dodgers designating the louse for assignment. It took the Dodgers almost two weeks from the moment his suspension was lifted at time served to decide something they had eons to decide. I could be wrong, but it didn’t take that long for New York to make up its mind and finally build the Second Avenue Subway

A year-and-a-third earlier, the Nationals faced infielder Starlin Castro’s suspension for violating baseball’s domestic/sexual/child abuse policy. The moment it hit, the Nats said, “He’s outta here when it ends!” The moment it ended, the Nats said, “He’s outta here.” With that kind of decisiveness, the Nats should have run the election for Speaker of the House.  

Not so fast, insisted Nats general manager Mike Rizzo. “I have enough trouble keeping my own inmates from running my own asylum,” he said. “Between you, me, and the Mad Hatter, your inmates are the asylum.”  

Carlos Correa made a bazillion-dollar round trip to Minnesota by way of San Francisco to New York. Mark it on a map, and the shape would resemble a coat hanger. Some rumors say that’s what his eight years on surgically-repaired ankle resembles—if it doesn’t resemble . . . 

a) A pretzel. 

b) A ball of rubber bands. 

c) A ball of yarn. 

d) A tablespoon of garlic powder. 

e) George Santos’s resumé. 

Mets owner Steve Cohen has thus gone from baseball’s most feared owner—in terms of opening the vault and refusing to close it until his chosen free agents take as many million as they can carry out in their own fanny packs—to baseball’s least likely to tolerate more than a 30-70 chance of the next Mets yearbook being The New England Journal of Medicine

What Cohen’s still trying to figure out is how his new pitching toy, Justin Verlander, made it 37 years before needing even one Tommy John surgery, 39 years with a third Cy Young Award, and 139 years without losing his marble. Singular. 

Giants owner Charles P. Johnson has gone from baseball’s great seeker of stars to baseball’s most likely not to come out after dark, out of fear he might look up and see stars in the night sky. Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner has gone from owning the Empire Emeritus to speculation that the Yankee fortune is tied up in . . . 

a) Aaron Judge. 

b) Coney Island coin-pressing souvenir machines. 

c) Bitcoin 

d) Resurrecting Knickerbocker beer. 

e) Finding Amelia Earhart. 

The infield-compromised Red Sox couldn’t convince themselves to keep Xander Bogaerts at shortstop long-term. So they convinced themselves to keep Rafael Devers at third base long-term. Leaving Who’s on first, What’s on second, and—after incumbent Trevor Story underwent Tommy John surgery—We Don’t Give a Darn at shortstop. 

The pitching-needy Red Sox convinced almost every pitcher they signed to put off retirement, but no such luck with Luis Tiant. El Tiante’s answer was either “No, thanks,” “You’re nuts,” “Show me your medicals,” or hyena-like laughter through a fat cigar and an answer that can’t be repeated in a family newsletter. 

The National League champion Phillies told their team, “Gentlemen, cheesesteaks aren’t enough for this town—we need sliders too.” Hence, they signed free agent shortstop Trea Turner—for eleven years, $300 million, and requirements to slide like Barishnykov across the plate with each run. Each failure will cost him dinner and dancing with Marjorie Taylor Greene—at the Space Laserium Delicatessen.  

The World Series champion Astros said, “It ain’t broke, we ain’t calling the repairman, we’re deep enough on the hill, let that old fart Verlander take his Cy Young Award and stuff it.” The wild-card Padres went wild off-season, signing Xander Bogaerts, Matt Carpenter, Seth Lugo, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Currier & Ives. With bonuses for any of them who can pitch in the mud and get away with it. 

The tanking Pirates keep telling Bryan Reynolds, “One more trade demand and we’ll send you to Congress.” Reynolds keeps telling the Pirates, “Keep me in this uniform and I’ll sue you for violating the Eighth Amendment.”  

Last year’s Tigers hit only six fewer home runs at home than on the road. “Not powerful enough!” the bosses said. They also surrendered 25 fewer home runs at home than on the road. Naturally, the keepers of the cages will lower the walls and shorten the center field distance at Comerica Park. They need only build a pitching staff who can shrink the team ERA to -4.00 while delivering a lineup that can average more than six-tenths of a home run per game. 

“It’s so simple a child of five could do it,” Groucho Marx once said. “Now, somebody send for a child of five.” 

Jeff Kallman is an IBWAA Life Member who writes Throneberry Fields Forever. He has written for the Society for American Baseball Research, The Hardball Times, Sports-Central, and other publications. He has lived in Las Vegas since 2007, where he plays the guitar and writes music when not writing baseball. He remains a Met fan since the day they were born. 

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