In This Space, 2015 Belongs to Baseball
December 28, 2015

It's really 'year in review' time? Wow, things happen so quickly. It seems like we just had the best and worst moments of 2014, and now we're wrapping up another year. If you ever read this column at all (and a big Thank You if you do), most of the time it's about sports, and most of that time it's about baseball. A few other things do pop up here and there, though.

This is the 52nd and final week of 2015. In the previous 51, nine and a half of them actually had nothing to do with sports. For some reason I like awards shows and wrote about the Grammys and the Oscars. The Golden Globes shared a headline with Ohio State's college football championship. It's not an awards show, but the White House Correspondent's Dinner in April kind of felt like one. Cecily Strong's jokes were good, but reporters don't seem to like to laugh at themselves. In March, I wrote that October is the best sports month of the year and February is the worst, which is probably why after the Super Bowl, something outside of sports garnered the headline for the next three weeks. Saturday Night Live got two columns. One when they celebrated their 40th anniversary in February, and one in November when Donald Trump hosted. Trump's constant attention on CNN got my attention in September, and I wrote about that. I even wrote a movie review (actually a story about a movie preview) just last week. In May, David Letterman retired, leaving late night in anarchy. I miss his show, but I go to bed earlier now.

It seems that all sports moved front and center, even if it was just once for some. I actually wrote about golf twice (Masters and British Open), while tennis, soccer, hockey, horse racing, cycling, boxing and even the NBA were the focus just once. There was a great US Open women's final, the USA routed Japan in the Women's World Cup, the Chicago Black Hawks took the Stanley Cup, American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the Amgen Tour of California began in Nevada City, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight was not worth a trip to Reno to watch, and Kobe Bryant announced his retirement. I'm pretty much taking a respite from the NBA, so admittedly the Golden State Warriors winning the championship and LeBron James returning to Cleveland didn't get the attention they probably deserved.

In addition to golf, the NFL got only two headlines (Seattle making it to the Super Bowl and Seattle losing the Super Bowl). College Football got two-and-a-half (the playoff games last year, the final four announcement this year, and Ohio State's title coming the same week as the Golden Globe awards. Other than baseball, only College Basketball made more headlines here. In 2015, ESPN analyst Dick Vitale was dumped from the North-Carolina-Duke telecasts, UCLA may not have deserved to have gotten in the tournament but advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, the Blue Devils won the title, and we learned that the odds of having a perfect bracket (given each team has equal chance to beat the other, which we know isn't true) is 9.223,372,036,854,775,808 to one. Picking the favorites can reduce those odds to about one in four billion.

That leaves us with baseball. It was the headline on this website 24 times this year. Eleven of those had to do with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and six were about the local Marysville Gold Sox. That leaves seven other columns, including commissioner Bud Selig's retirement, Cubs rookie Kris Bryant opening the season in the minors, then making his MLB debut on the exact date that would deny him potential free agency for another year. The home run derby and All-Star game, the playoffs, season awards, and, of course, the Royals winning the World Series were other topics. The Gold Sox had a year where they started 19-1, but also had a franchise-record seven-game losing streak. Their manager picked up his 300th career win to snap it, but won't be back next year because the team is joining a league, and will be traveling more. Many other changes are also happening. As far as the Dodgers are concerned, even not doing anything provides material. Just today, the New York Yankees acquired reliever Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati. The Dodgers had a deal in place for the Cuban fireballer earlier this month, but then it was learned that Chapman is under investigation for domestic violence and the deal fell through. A managerial change, not re-signing pitcher Zack Greinke, and the failure of luring other free agents to LA has also put them in the news.

Of all the sports, though, baseball is the longest. They play 162 regular season games, and it takes about six months to do it. Since six months is half a year, it seems only right that I write about baseball about half the time, right? Of course, the NBA is around almost as much, and I probably wouldn't have written about it at all if Kobe didn't quit. I haven't counted it all up, but there's been a column here every Monday for five years. Chances are much better than that 'perfect bracket' number that baseball will be the main topic. By the way, Spring Training opens in exactly two months.

Even more baseball: The Hall of Fame announcements will be made next week, and Fox Sports analyst Ken Rosenthal wrote that this year, he voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. He said he felt weird about it, but also felt weird about having to exclude them because of alleged steroid use. This is truly another example of people not caring that players tried to cheat the game, and are getting rewarded for it. Rosenthal went on to say that he didn't vote for Mark McGwire, who is in his final year of eligibility.

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