Some baseball fans kept tabs on the Arizona Fall League, winter meetings, free-agent signings, and trades.
Some skipped a week of work to watch Cactus or Grapefruit League action.
Some took a brief hiatus from March Madness to watch the first regular-season games taking place Down Under.
Some tuned into last night’s stateside season opener featuring the 2–0 Dodgers — thanks to their sweep of the Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground — against the Padres in Petco Park.
And then there’s everybody else, folks who are only now awakening from an offseason slumber and are therefore unprepared for today’s slate of 13 games.
If that describes you, this article is for you.
Below is a quick-and-dirty overview of what happened in MLB since the Red Sox claimed their third world championship in ten seasons:
Everyone seemed convinced that the Rays would trade David Price. (Hint: They didn’t.) An implosion felled the Astrodome, and the Topps baseball-card company unveiled a “30 Days of November, 30 Days of Moustaches” promotion. A Yankee second baseman from another era urged Robinson Cano to forgo the lure of Seattle’s riches and remain in the Bronx, while Alex Rodriguez stormed out of his performance-enhancing-drug arbitration hearing Animal House–style.
Major League Baseball Players Association leader Michael Weiner succumbed to brain cancer after a long battle. Rick Renteria was hired to pilot the Cubs, and Brad Ausmus replaced Jim Leyland in Detroit. Later, the Tigers sent marshmallowy Prince Fielder and $30 million to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler in a deal that was humorously foreshadowed in an ESPN commercial from 2010. (Months later, Kinsler went off on his former club for parting ways with president Nolan Ryan.) The Cardinals and Angels worked out a trade in which David Freese moved west to Orange County and Peter Bourjos headed to Busch.
Award hardware was distributed to Wil Myers and Jose Fernandez for being named Rookies of the Year, and to Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw for the Cy Young. Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen took home Most Valuable Player honors.
Yup, someone wuz robbed for a second year in a row:
In both 2012 and 2013, Cabrera trailed the overall Total Runs leader, Mike Trout. Last year, Trout outpaced Cabrera by 23 runs. This season, the gap was 17 runs. We typically estimate that 10 extra runs is worth an extra win, so Trout has added about four wins more for the Angels than Cabrera has for the Tigers over the last two seasons.
Chris Carpenter announced his retirement, the Cardinals inked PED-user Jhonny Peralta to a four-year contract, and the Yankees signed Brian McCann for five years.
After years of hoarding capital as a big-league slugger, Magglio Ordonez got elected mayor of a small city in Venezuela, as a Chavista socialist. Keith Olbermann delivered a classic “We Need a New Hall of Fame” monologue, the Steinbrenners got socked with a $28 million luxury-tax penalty, and Paul Blair, one of the greatest defensive outfielders to play the game, died.
After Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to roam center field in the Bronx for the next seven seasons, Cano and Curtis Granderson split, upon which the Yankees added another free-agent outfielder, Carlos Beltran.
The Orioles agreed to terms with Grant Balfour and then backed away, supposedly after not liking what they saw in an X-ray of his throwing shoulder (the Australian closer would eventually reunite with the Rays), Shin Soo-Choo signed a seven-year contract with the Rangers, and the Angels, D-backs, and White Sox consummated a six-player deal involving Mark Trumbo, Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs, and Hector Santiago.
Olbermann delivered another magnificent rant, this one responding to a Baseball Writers Association of America member’s inane thought process guiding his Hall of Fame vote. NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski did his own takedown of another writer’s idea of Cooperstown justice, albeit in print.
The BBWAA announced that three first-year Hall of Fame candidates — Greg Maddux (97.2 percent), Frank Thomas (91.9 percent), and Tom Glavine (83.7 percent) — had crossed the 75 percent threshold for entry into Cooperstown. Craig Biggio (74.8 percent) missed getting in by two votes out of 571 ballots cast. One day later, ESPN’s Dan LeBatard announced that he had let Deadspin readers help determine his ballot; the BBWAA wasted no time in permanently revoking his Hall voting privileges.
A 60 Minutes hit piece on A-Rod, attempting to portray PED peddler Anthony Bosch in a favorable light, said way more about the show than the segment’s target, according to Posnanski. Bud Selig insisted that he was stepping down as commissioner following the 2014 season and after he gets honored with the “Bud Selig Leadership Award.” (Sports Illustrated’s Joe Sheehan wryly wondered if the trophy was a “bronzed strip of 1994 World Series tickets.”) Former Yankees infielder and Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman died. Michael Young and Lance Berkman said they had played their last games.
Clayton Kershaw signed a mega-extension with the Dodgers, making the southpaw ace, for the time being, anyway, the highest-paid player per average annual value, while former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander was so ticked off watching Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s NFC Championship Game antics that he suggested someone doing that in baseball deserved a 100-mph pitch thrown at his ear. In return for a $155 million, seven-year contract (with a player opt-out after year four), this year’s Japanese phenom, Masahiro Tanaka, elected to pitch for the Yankees.