Peter Gammons wrote an excellent piece (what a surprise) in the current issue of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s magazine, Memories and Dreams, in which he talks about what spring training used to be. He recalled a tennis match between Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. The accessibility of all the players. And the excitement of a great new player in the Yankees club, a kid he thought the Yankees should play at shortstop … Mariano Rivera.
That Mo would go on to greatness of a wholly other kind is my favorite kind of baseball story.
Last year’s big stories were about pitchers and the kids, the rookies. I love me a good rookie.
Did I digress?
Jason Heyward. Stephen Strasburg. I couldn’t get enough of those guys (until Strasburg—surprise, surprise—blew out his arm). How about Buster Posey’s year, all the way through a World Series win? Austin Jackson, whom I’d seen play the game of his life when on the . I love watching these beginnings, beginnings with great promise.
Who will it be this year? Is anyone else wondering what kind of year Aroldis Chapman will have? It looks like Jesus Montero might have more playing time than anyone thought, thanks to Cervelli’s broken foot. That’s the part I always forget—the surprise turns—the injuries that bring a rookie up before anyone thought he’d be ready. And the roles those rookies sometimes play.
The people I hear about before the season are not always the ones who end up shining. I wonder what this year’s best stories will be.