Sending Off Some Of The Best

Its been a pretty sad week in the sports world.  It sucks that I have to write about it.  Some of the best are leaving, whether its on the mound, at the plate, in the paint, or in the booth. All of these add to a year where we’ve already seen names like Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant (Boooooo!), and Alex Rodriguez (Boooooo!) go.

I’m gonna try to make this as happy as possible.

David Ortiz

Baseball fans have waited all year for David Ortiz to announce he’s playing next year, but it hasn’t happened, leaving many of us confused.  Why now?  The guy is hitting .318/.403/.626 this season, with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs!  And he’s 40 years old!

Oh, wait.  Thats the issue.  He’s 40 years old.

Maybe Big Papi wants to just hang out.  Maybe he’s tired of playing baseball.  He’s been doing it for 19 years.  Thats a long time!

So many athletes retire at the wrong time.  They let their careers collapse on themselves, and it sucks to watch (like Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning).  Maybe he knows this is his last year at this level of play.

Everything we know about Big Papi should make us think he’s doing the right thing.  Maybe he just thinks its time.

Big Papi’s legacy lies with time, but not in the way you think.

I mean “time” by when it comes necessary to do something.  Time to hit a mammoth home run.

Every time the Red Sox needed runs, and David Ortiz was at-bat, he’d deliver.  He get a run home, one way or the other.  No other player did that, and no player could you have the confidence in to do that.  And no other player made you know he was gonna do that.

Thats why Big Papi is an all-time great.  Not just because of the ridiculous offensive numbers, but because of how he appealed to fans and the team, whether it was through his personality or through his bat.

Kevin Garnett

What a rough time for Boston…  Well, not really.  Boston fans always have something going right.

There’s no question what Kevin Garnett’s legacy is, but there is one about where it lives.  KG spent a total of 14 years(!) in Minnesota (It feels like less than that).  Statistically, his best two years were 2003 and 2004, both in Minnesota.  His PER never dropped below 28 those two years.

However, Minnesota only made the playoffs once during those two years, and lost in the West Finals.  The Timberwolves haven’t been back since.

From KG’s rookie year till then, they were in it every year.  But KG’s career didn’t hit it’s prime until 2002.  This is why people make the case that Minnesota wasted his talent.  The Timberwolves only made the playoffs twice during KG’s prime.

Thats eventually what led to the trade to Boston, which resulted in, well, you know.

That right there was all the frustration from his time in Minnesota coming out.  At this point, we could start calling KG an old man.  And his numbers backed it up.  His PER slowly dipped towards 20, and soon after below, but KG was still good.  He never completely fell off.

We’ll remember KG for his insane rebounding numbers and his never ending drive.  The guy never quit.  And though he only got one ring, that one ring might be enough to get over all he went through.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully is probably the only reason I don’t wish all bad things against the Dodgers baseball club.

Sunday’s home finale was as perfect as it could get for Vin Scully’s last home call.  The Dodgers won the NL West on a walk-off home run, and Scully sent off the ultimate goodbye.

There will never be another baseball announcer that has a voice like that.  There will never be another baseball announcer that keeps you as entertained as Scully.  There’s been countless moments where I’d be sitting on couch with a Dodger game on, chuckling to myself as I write because of something Scully said.

We can’t finish this off without bringing up the history lessons (Thanks AP World History for giving me some background knowledge on those).  Scully’s stories and lectures are unforgettable.  He can take anyone’s name and find someone in history related to it.

Scully’s biggest influence is his style.  How Scully announces is how I try to write: Having a conversation with the audience.  Scully is so good at it; he sounds just like himself.  Its something I strive to do, but will never be able to achieve at his level.  No one will.

Jose Fernandez

I don’t even know where to begin.  I didn’t Sunday morning and I don’t know now.

Very few had done what Jose Fernandez had done by age 24.  He was on pace to have the highest strikeout rate ever; his current rank is 5th all-time at 31.2%.  He had the highest K/9 in the league this season at 12.49.  He was consistently one of the best pitchers in the league ever since his debut in 2013.  The accolades go on and on.

But Fernandez was more than stats.  He was one of my favorite pitchers in the league to watch.  The guy had what I’d call an electric arm.  The baseball would come off his fingertips so graciously, and zipped so quickly to home plate.

The league’s best pitchers don’t exactly all have “electric arms”.  Madison Bumgarner doesn’t.  Jake Arrieta doesn’t.  The electric arm category features guys like Sonny Gray, Yordano Ventura, and Chris Sale.  Those are all very good pitchers, but those aren’t guys any typical baseball fan would think of.

Fernandez wasn’t only one of the five best pitchers in the league, but he had an arm that’d be make anyone gasp.  And that breaking ball…

Its one of the best breaking balls this game has ever seen.

If you go through my archives, you won’t find a ton about Jose Fernandez.  That seems strange, since he was so good and I’m mourning his death so hard, but really its a testament to how good he was.

Whenever I wrote about the Marlins, Fernandez wasn’t mentioned much.  Why?  Because he was Jose Fernandez.  He never had anything going wrong.  There was never a weird stat that needed explaining, or a pitch that he needed help with.  He was Jose Fernandez, and if you know baseball, his name is all you needed to hear.

I thought Marlins announcer Glenn Genffer summed it up in a perfect way, saying that “I could not wait for every Jose Fernandez start.  Every fifth day you had the chance to see something special.”

That hit hard.  If you had to explain this to a non-baseball fan, thats how you do it.

I don’t think there’s ever been a loss this great in sports, at least when it comes to an active player dying.  Ben Wilson is the closest example.  The potential was that high.

Jose Fernandez was a joy.  There will never be someone like him.  Rest in peace.

I put together a little batch of some Jose Fernandez GIFs.  These all show what a character the guy was.



And my favorite…