The Future of Baseball

“Understand this: The minor-league players, the player you’ll never know about, the players that never get out of rookie ball or high-A, those players have as much impact on the growth of our game as 10-year or 15-year veteran players. They have as much opportunity to influence the growth of our game as those individuals who played for a long time because those individuals go back into their communities and teach the game, work in academies, are JUCO coaches, college coaches, scouts, coaches in pro baseball.

“They’re growing the game constantly because they’re so passionate about it. So we felt it was really, really important not to release one minor-league player during this time, a time we needed to stand behind them.”

— Dayton Moore explaining Royals philosophy

I would say that at least once a day for the last few days, I’ve gone back and read that quote — I love it so much. It’s a reminder of something about baseball that I think a lot about, a question that was getting lost even before we found ourselves in a pandemic, the Great Depression and 1968 all at once, something that recent days have highlighted in a whole new way.

Who is looking out for baseball?

I mean the game. Who is looking out for the game? Who is looking out for this sport that has been leaking popularity for many years now, this game that ranks fourth in popularity among young people, this game that no longer has the national presence it once did, this game that is aging before our very eyes.

Let’s talk for a moment about where the game is — or was before the pandemic. More than half of the people who watch baseball games on television are 55 and over. The average age of the baseball fan, according to Sports Business Journal, is 57 — so much older than the NFL (50), NHL (49), NBA (42) and, particularly, MLS (40).

Here’s a sobering fact: The average age of today’s baseball fan is roughly the average age of horse racing fans in 2006. Let that sink in. Think of what has happened to horse racing since 2006 (well, for one thing, the average age rose seven years). It ain’t coming back.

To be transparent, baseball fans have been older than the fans of other major sports for many years now. It is, by its very nature, a sport that relies on nostalgia and history rather than violence and blurring action. But the age-gap has reached a whole new level. Only 9 percent of all Americans listed baseball as their favorite sport in the latest Gallup poll, the lowest percentage in Gallup history.

And that number would have been much lower except for the 15% of people 55 and older who still love baseball most.

Among people 54 and younger — baseball at 7% ranked way behind football (35%), basketball (12%) AND soccer (11%).

Then there’s this: Think about how few African American faces you see in baseball now. On Wednesday, MLB released a statement about how the game has zero tolerance for racism. The statement itself seemed like a lot of words to say very little, but more to the point: Where are the black stars in the game? If you are young and African American, how do you see yourself in this game?

There are zero African-American GMs in baseball. There are two African-American managers — one of them, Dusty Baker, hired only to put out the flames after the Houston Astros cheating explosion. And African American stars?

Well, there’s Mookie Betts, a superstar who got traded during the offseason. George Springer is wonderful. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are great but have been hampered by injuries for a couple of years now. Marcus Semien was fantastic in 2019 and is mostly unknown. David Price won a Cy Young and is still an effective pitcher. Andrew McCutchen has been a star and a credit to the game for years but he’s so vividly on the downhill. Lorenzo Cain has never gotten the credit he deserves. Same with Michael Brantley. Josh Bell smashed 37 homers last year. Tim Anderson showed some star potential in 2019. Byron Buxton is so fun when healthy, which is rare.

How many of them would you call big stars?

Now, depending on your age, think of the players who defined baseball for you.

I was 11 years old in 1978. That year Jim Rice and Dave Parker won the league MVP awards. And the list of black stars behind them is seemingly endless and spread out in every single baseball town — Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan, Amos Otis, Vida Blue, Willie Randolph, Andre Dawson, Dave Winfield, J.R. Richard, Andre Thornton, Bill Madlock, Gary Maddox, George Foster, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Bibby, Ken Singleton, Don Baylor, Willie Stargell, Dusty Baker, Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie, Eddie Murray, Dock Ellis, Hal McRae, Frank White, Ron LeFlore, Lou Whitaker, Al Oliver, Mickey Rivers so many more.

Mike Schur, who is a bit younger than me, goes off the top of his head and points to his childhood of Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Willie Wilson, Kirby Puckett, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Dwight Gooden, Tony Gwynn, Albert Belle, Lee Smith, Barry Larkin, Mo Vaughan, Reggie Sanders, Kevin Mitchell, Ron Gant, Kenny Lofton and Tim Raines, literally just off the top of his head, typing in a flurry of memory. He didn’t even get to Hall of Famers Ken Griffey and Frank Thomas or the guy who is probably the best player of the last 50 years, Barry Bonds.

He didn’t even mention the most famous baseball player of the 1980s, perhaps, Bo Jackson.

Remember when Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders and Michael Jordan, the greatest athletes of the day, ALL wanted to play baseball.

We are so far away from all that now. There are many reasons for the dearth of African Americans in baseball and, yes, there are people dedicated to turning back the tide. But the point here is that so many people don’t see themselves in this game now. The game’s range narrows.

And who is out there looking to expand that range again?

This, I should say, is NOT one of those “Baseball is dead” essays that people have been writing since, no kidding, the 1890s. Major League Baseball, in many ways, has been doing better than ever because it’s still a force in local markets. Attendance has been going down, yes (it’s essentially flat for the last 22 years) but baseball is the most popular summer show on television in any number of cities.

And franchises have skyrocketed in value. Twenty or so years ago, the Kansas City Royals couldn’t find a local buyer willing to put up $100 million. Last year, they sold to local businessman John Sherman for about a billion dollars.*

*It is so unnatural for us to understand numbers as high as a million and a billion, so here’s a little primer. Let’s say you get a job paying $50,000 a year. If you work at that job for 20 years, you will have earned $1 million. How long would it take you make a billion?

Answer: 20,000 years.

No, this is not about MLB dying. This is about baseball itself. The game. Who looks after it? Who promotes baseball? Who proselytizes baseball? Who spends all their creativity and energy and focus on making baseball a better, more interesting, more inclusive, more exciting game for fans — not today’s fans but those in five years, ten years, 20 years?

There are, unquestionably, some people trying. But we don’t see them much. What we see are teams and managers, without hesitation, sacrificing parts of the game that might be interesting or daring in the interest of efficiency.

What you see is a rise in ticket prices and how that has priced out families and so many children who otherwise might fall in love with the game.

What you see, I believe, is a shortsightedness, a submission to the moment, a perpetual fight over the game’s riches. This last part, in particular, has played out over the last few weeks while a global pandemic rages on, and do you think most people care if it’s the owners or the players who are at fault? No. Most people just see that people can’t come together, even now, for this game that they’re all supposed to love.

So who can blame someone for asking: If that’s how they treat this game, why in the hell should I care?

Dayton Moore is a friend of mine. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, to say the least, but we’re good enough friends that we have had numerous arguments about our disagreements, have poked lots of fun at each other about our individual feelings, and we never think less of each other over it.

The reason, at least on my side, is this: I admire Dayton Moore. I believe I know where his heart is — especially when it comes to baseball.

Dayton Moore loves baseball. He loves the game with a depth that, I think, goes beyond the ordinary. He loves every single part of the game. We’ve had long discussions about how much he loves grounds crews. We’ve had long conversations about how much he loves scouts. We’ve had long conversations about my mother in law, Judy, who lives in a small Kansas town and every night watches and roots for the Royals with everything she’s got, no matter how far out of first place they might be.

Dayton and I almost never have a conversation — even short ones — where he doesn’t ask me about Judy.

He loves high school baseball, college baseball, minor-league baseball. He loves baseball played by kids in Latin American countries. He loves baseball played in Japan and Korea. He was at the heart of building a youth baseball academy in Kansas City. He wants to takes baseball everywhere, to every boy and girl in this country, because he believes baseball is the best game, the game that teaches the best lessons, the game that equalizes the playing field, the game that allows you to thrive even if you aren’t the tallest or the fastest or the strongest.

He is the truest of baseball believers. I love that about him.

Stunningly, I don’t think that sort of love is all that common in the game. And it should be.

What’s so wonderful about the quote above is that, frankly, I’ve never heard anyone else say it. And it’s so true, so obvious once you think clearly. What Dayton Moore is saying is that every minor leaguer no matter how high they get in the game is a hero to someone. High school baseball fields are named for them. Little League teams are coached by them. Junior college and college players learn from them. Raw talents are spotted by them.

There are highway signs with their names on them throughout America.

Baseball might treat them shabbily or take them for granted but they are Johnny Appleseeds for this game. They are a critical part of the game’s purpose … and the game’s future.

THIS is how baseball should be thinking about everything, not just now but always: How can we celebrate baseball? How can we reach new audiences? How can we bring live, exciting baseball to more communities (and for less money)? How can we show young people how much fun the game is to play and watch and follow? How can we get into communities? How can we make a difference? How can we draw more young people?

There aren’t easy answers. But there are no answers if you don’t take the time to ask the questions. If I was commissioner, I would put Dayton Moore in charge of the game’s future.

The Last Dance? Let's Hope So

First off, I want to thank so many of you for sending photos for our “Photo. Forward. Feed.” campaign. For those of you who might have missed it, we have relaunched our Passions in America website*, and our first big project is asking people to send us a photograph of something that brings them joy in these troubled times.

And for every person who sends us a photo, we will donate $10 to the So Others May Eat food pantry in Washington D.C.

*If you get a chance, go over there and check out a story about a woman who has found that crocheting helps her deal with the darkness. It’s great.

You have already sent us so many incredible photographs. You’ll soon see them up on the website. But I wanted to do something special to thank you so — here’s my photo, a photo of our daughter, Elizabeth, doing something she loves.

See, she gets a “This Day in History” email every day with fun facts about the day … and Tuesday (you might have missed this) was the anniversary of the day that Anne Boleyn was beheaded. It just so happens that Elizabeth is utterly obsessed with Anne Boleyn, so she decided to commemorate the occasion she would recreate the scarf and headdress and necklace that she wore.

She spent HOURS on this. She sewed. She sketched. She designed. And I have to say: It made her happier than just about any time I’ve seen in weeks. This is what our passions can do for us.

Here’s how it turned out:

That’s Elizabeth on the right.

She also used her movie makeup to create a photo of herself as Anne Boleyn post-beheading, but I’ll spare you that one.

If you would like to send a photo, it’s not too late — in fact, it’s still early because we haven’t officially kicked off the campaign. You can send your photo here.

What’s Going On

— OK, over at The Athletic, we’re 20 moments into my 60 Moments series about the 60 greatest moments in baseball history. I will admit it’s been a little rougher going than I thought at the start. For one thing, I’m literally writing these things live — whatever cushion I might have built up by writing a handful at the beginning is now gone.

For another, these essays are turning out to be longer than I was hoping. I wanted them to be 1,000 or so words — and they’re actually more like 2,500 words. If I averaged 2,500 words for 60 essays, that’s 150,000 words, which is again longer than any book I’ve written. I’ve got to reel things in.

— When all this is over (hopefully sooner than later) someone will no doubt ask: “So, what did you accomplish during the pandemic?” I’ve been thinking a lot about what my answer will be. Unfortunately, at the moment, the leading answer in the clubhouse is: “I got a lot better at ping pong.” Well, hey, it’s true.

— We are now binge-watching Brooklyn 99 as a family. I’m embarrassed it took this long to get started (don’t tell Mike) but we just finished the first two seasons, and we absolutely love it. Every day now, the girls come down for dinner and say, “Brookies?” That’s how they ask if we can watch one or two or seven Brooklyn 99s. I’m sure we’re watching some tonight.

I went on a long rant about “The Last Dance” on the PosCast this week. I would never ask any of you to actually listen to that so … let me put a short version of the rant here.

To begin: I have not watched one minute of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” about Michael Jordan and those Chicago Bulls. So my rant has nothing to do with the quality of the series, which I’ve heard is wonderful.

No, it’s something else. I have not watched The Last Dance, but I’ve consumed it. I’ve had no choice. It’s everywhere. It’s on my Twitter feed. It’s in my inbox. It’s seemingly in every other conversation I have. I’m happy that the documentary has brought people together and given so many a sports jolt that has been missing in all our lives.

But I absolutely hate it.

No, really, I hate it with every fiber of my being. If hate was violence, I’d be a Tarrantino movie. If hate was commercials, I’d be GEICO. If hate was sand, I’d be The Rub al-Khali.

There are many reasons I hate it, but I want to focus on two of them.

  1. The Last Dance has turned countless people of my generation into old farts who shout at clouds and prattle on about how much better things used to be. I never thought that would be us, man.

In the years after college, I spent my time with a group of young people who mainly wanted to complain about how Baby Boomers shoved their nostalgia down our throats. Yeah, that’s right, we were the original “OK, Boomer” folks. We complained about the Beatles, about the Kennedy obsession, about the nonsense that Baby Boomer rock was “classic,” about the absurd nostalgia our parents and teachers and the rest felt for awful things like The Doors.

And mostly, we complained about their insistence that everything good that will ever happen in sports already happened. We were sick of hearing that their Jim Browns and John Unitases and Jerry Wests and Wilt Chamberlains and Sandy Koufaxes and Gordie Howes were so much better than the soft and undisciplined bunch of underachievers we grew up with.

Looking back, what bothered us most was not them celebrating their youth — everyone should do that. No, it was their adamant belief that things had gotten worse, sports had gotten worse, music had gotten worse, movies had gotten worse, television had gotten worse … and we needed to know that.

The 49ers? With that little dink-pass offense? Ha! No way that would hold up against the No-Name Defense!

I always believed — foolishly, I suppose — that my generation would never become that, would never tell kids that their bands could never touch the B-52s.

So, yeah, of course, I hated The Last Dance. How could I not? It’s a moony-eyed tribute to OUR TIME, when basketball was basketball, when men were men, when there were no free layups because someone might tear your head off. These players didn’t play! They were true champions! They fought like lions! They refused to yield! And the king of them all was Michael Jordan, who would go through the depths of hell just to beat the Pacers on a Tuesday!

Where has that spirit gone? What has happened to America?

Consider: The hand check. For a month now, I’ve had to listen to people my age talk about the hand check the way that Baby Boomers used to talk about the Kennedys. What is a hand check? It’s putting your hand on somebody’s back as he is posting up near the basket. It was banned a while ago. And the point seems to be that players today couldn’t handle the dreaded hand check; they would crumple under the duress of someone pushing them on the basketball court.

It makes me want to scream.

Are you kidding me? Are you bleepin’ kidding me? You think a HAND CHECK from Kevin McHale is going to slow down, say, Anthony Davis? He weighs like 50 pounds more than McHale at his peak. He would back McHale down into the fourth row without even feeling it.

Oh, and not for nothing, players don’t constantly stand there with backs to the basket now. McHale would try to guard Anthony Davis, and he would watch Davis go to the top and continue to stand there because no tall guy can make three-pointers — and Davis would strike down threes on him with great vengeance and furious anger.

That’s not even to knock McHale — he was a great player in his time. But it was just that: His time. And now it’s a different time. Stuff changes. It isn’t all for the better. But it’s mostly for the better. The athletes are bigger, stronger, faster, better trained, more agile, and they have the shared experience of seeing basketball evolve. Anyone who thinks someone from 1988 could step on a court now and stop these guys with hand checks would also think that someone could stop tanks with a musket.

  1. There is nothing interesting or likable to me about Michael Jordan.

Look, I loved Jordan. Loved him. One of his biggest fans. When I moved to North Carolina for high school, Jordan was a freshman for the Tar Heels. I instantly fell for him, tried to be like him, stuck my tongue out when playing my somewhat more earthbound game. I got a Tar Heels Jordan jersey.

I do not think it is possible to be better than Michael Jordan was in the 1980s and 1990s. He was utterly incredible. He stretched the possibilities of what a basketball player could be.

But that’s as a basketball player. As a person? No. I don’t like Michael Jordan. What’s to like? He was the Emperor from Star Wars. He lovingly embraced the dark side, constantly created mythical things to get pissed off about, belittled his teammates, ripped his old high school coach at his Hall of Fame induction, repeatedly bashed a dead man who built the Chicago Bulls, shot that electricity from his fingertips and still holds grudges for dumb things few others would have noticed in the first place.

I thought it was clear long before The Last Dance that there’s nothing deeper to explore. This isn’t the story of layers. If Michael Jordan had been eight inches shorter, he just would have been the guy in the office you hated. Yes, of course, his drive combined with his basketball intelligence combined with his truly insane competitive fire combined extraordinary talent combined to make a transcendent basketball player. He was a joy to watch.

But that doesn’t make him admirable.

And that’s what has come across for weeks now — that Jordan’s way was the superior way, that today’s players are the ones with the problem because they lack the hunger, the will, the borderline psychotic need to win. I don’t buy it. There are other ways to win. Better ways to win. I do believe Luke Skywalker and the light side triumph.

Oh, there’s a bonus thing I hated about The Last Dance — it gave a whole bunch of people a new excuse to bash LeBron James all over again. And why? One reason: Because LeBron didn’t play when so many of us were young and more open to the world and enthralled by the music of Air Jordan.

Look, it’s been said — LeBron is bigger than Jordan, stronger than Jordan, a better passer than Jordan, a better rebounder than Jordan and his inclusive style of basketball is, I believe, more conducive to winning. Sure, I miss being young too. But I’d rather not celebrate that. I’d rather try to enjoy the amazing time we’re in.

Photo. Forward. Food.

Hi everybody. Hope you’re holding up. We’re doing OK. Elizabeth has now semi-officially graduated from high school. We are all semi-officially very proud of her. More on that in the newsletter coming out the next couple of days. There might also be a long rant in there about The Last Dance. We’ll see.

Today, I wanted to tell you about this cool thing I’ve been working on and maybe give you a chance to join in before anyone else does.

To begin: We have relaunched our Passions in America project. For those of you who don’t remember the project — can’t blame you, we have been working behind the scenes on it for a few months now.

As a reminder: The idea of the project is for us to explore the hobbies, pastimes, collections, activities, puzzles, recreations, pursuits, and small obsessions that bring us joy.

Dan McGinn and I (and others) came into this project believing that those small and often overlooked joyful things in our lives are vitally important. They take us away. They give us peace. They energize our minds. They make us happy. In this project, we want to put a spotlight on those things, tell some great stories, share some of the science that shows just how much it helps to carve out even a little time to engage in something beyond work and family that makes you happy.

We have some exciting things planned. And that’s where you come in. We’re going to unveil our new campaign this week. I thought that we’d open it up to you a couple of days early.

We’re calling it “Photo. Forward. Food.” The idea is pretty simple: We are asking people to send us one photo of something — anything — that brings them joy during the pandemic. That’s all. This can be anything as long as it makes you happy. Already, we’ve had a friend send us a photo of a pet in a silly pose and a favorite tree they pass on their walk. It can be a dish you prepared, a scarf you crocheted, a jigsaw puzzle you completed, a board game you and your family play.*

*We have been playing this trivia game that we found in the closet somewhere. Its name is ridiculously bland, something like “FAMILY TRIVIA GAME.” It looks like something we created ourselves. But the game has proven to us unequivocally that we’re not getting smarter in isolation.

It can be a completed crossword puzzle, a Lego model, a favorite flower in a garden, a car you keep checking out on the Internet, a postcard you love, anything at all that takes you out of the moment and makes you feel good.

We believe that by sharing these photos and stories, we can spread some joy and, we hope, inspire some people.

There’s an important second part to this: For every person who sends in a photo, we will donate ten dollars to a D.C. area foodbank. We are still identifying the right Foodbank (we should have that locked down in the next day or so) but we will donate up to $25,000. That would be 2,500 people sending in photos, which is an awful lot. But we think it’s possible.

So, here’s what we’d love for you to do.

  1. Take a photo of something that brings you joy.

  2. For now, email it to me here. Starting Friday, we will have a special form at the Website. Include a few words about why the photo means something to you.

  3. That’s it. For every person who sends in a photo, we will donate ten dollars. So please send in your photo and maybe ask a friend or two or ten to do the same.

What is wrong with me?

So, to begin, I hope you have seen that I have begun my new baseball series “60 Moments” where I am counting down the 60 greatest moments in baseball history as seen through the strange lens that I use to see the world. We have just made it through the first week, and you can see the whole project here.

Or if you like, I’ll put the first five up individually. I’ve done more since then.

No. 60: Enos Slaughter’s mad dash (appeared on what would have Slaughter’s birthday).

No. 59: Dwight Evans’ famous homer of Tom Browning in the epic 1992 Strat-o-Matic series I played against my buddy Chardon Jimmy.

No. 58: Javy Baez’s classic tag in the World Baseball Classic.

No. 57: Shoeless Joe coming out of the corn.

No. 56: The day Joe DiMaggio almost lost his 56-game hitting streak.

One thing I can tell you about this series — it will be out there. I just don’t see any point in counting down the moments that everybody has already talked to death. I mean, yes, I’m sure I’ll hit some of those along the way. But you can expect some strange turns in this series. I like to think of it as a new version of the Shadowball Series I was working on for a while.

We’ll see how it works out. Thanks, as always, for following along.

Today, the No. 1 player on the Baseball 100 — Willie Mays — turns 89.

Which means today, I get a whole bunch of new emails and tweets from people who want me to know that the No. 2 player on the Baseball 100, Babe Ruth, was not only a great hitter (he hit more home runs than entire teams!) but also a great pitcher. Whoa!

I wish I’d known that before making the rankings.

With Elizabeth closing in on her high school graduation — whatever that looks like in this strange mirror world we live in now — we haven’t had a whole lot of time to do the usual cool stuff as a family. We did start watching Brooklyn 99 from the beginning, which has been fun, and we gathered around to watch Michael’s Parks and Recreation reunion show, which struck a lot of feelings in all of us.

One fun thing: I’m cleaning out my office and coming across all sorts of treasures and junk. One thing I came across was a slightly expired package of Big League Chew, the chewing gum to use if you want to pretend you are chewing tobacco.

By “slightly expired,” I couldn’t tell for sure if it was “best used by” November of 2019 or November of 2010. I suppose with Big League Chew, the difference is negligible. We all had some. We all have lived to tell the tale.

And the tale is this: Our youngest daughter, Katie, did not know how to blow a bubble. I have to say, I don’t actually remember how I learned to blow a bubble — it just seemed to be one of those osmosis things, like knowing that shouting “shotgun” gets you the front seat and knowing the tune to 99 bottles of beer on the wall. I would say that 93% of the knowledge that rattles around in my brain seems to me innate; I don’t know where I picked up almost any of it. Probably at camp.

In any case, I spent a good solid hour trying to teach Katie the subtle art of bubble making. This was quite hilarious and frustrating. Katie is one of those learners who must know literally everything there is to know about a subject before she will try to do anything with it. She is the kind of person who writes practice essays before writing the actual essay.*

*I have no idea where she got this from.

So she had me explain how you send forth a gum bubble I would say, 25 different ways.

And by the end, right, she still wasn’t too great. But we’ve got time. One thing we definitely have is time.

Tonight, Margo and I will watch the last episode of Justified. We began binge-watching it roughly at the start of our isolation, and we have now put aside this evening to finish it off.

Funny thing, Margo found a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon for the occasion. What’s funny is how she found it: In 2008, when I was writing a about the 1975 Reds called The Machine, I went to a special dinner featuring the Great Eight.

At the dinner: Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, George Foster, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey, and Cesar Geronimo.

Also at the dinner: Nick Lachey.*

*Who was born in Harlan, Kentucky — wow, how everything comes around!

Anyway, they gave me a big bottle of Maker’s Mark, which we have never opened because I’ve never had a sip of bourbon in my life. I’ll let you know how it goes — the finale and the bourbon. Mike Schur suggests a single ice cube and sip slowly.

Here’s what happened. A friend made the point that the Hall of Fame often talks about only the top 1 percent of all players make it to Cooperstown. That’s not EXACTLY right — it really depends on how you count the players — but it’s close enough. Anyway, he asked me: What percentage of players have been on a World Series championship team?

I could have estimated it. I should have estimated it.

I didn’t estimate it.

I literally counted every player who played on a World Series team.

Before I give you the answer, I want to pause and ask the question in the title: What is wrong with me? I should be able to just look at questions like that and go: Yeah, too much work. Instead, I spent two hours breaking down the entire list of players who have appeared on winning World Series teams, from Henry Aaron and Ed Abbaticchio to Barry Zito and Ben Zobrist.

So, first the answer: I started in 1905, Giants vs. Athletics. There have been 16,657 players in the big leagues since then, according to Baseball-Reference.

And there have been 1,621 different players who have played in the World Series for the winning team. So that means that almost exactly 10 percent of all players in baseball history have won a World Series.

I don’t know about you, but that kind of shocked me. I would have thought that number was way lower. I mean, you think about all the players who come up for a cup of coffee, all those players who stick around for only a year or two, all of those players who were buried on bad teams, it just doesn’t add up for me.

But that’s the number.

There are more numbers: 403 players have played on at least two World Series champions. Thirty players have played on at least five.

But here’s the thing, the big payoff: All 30 of the players with at least five World Series were Yankees for at least part of their career. In fact, only one of them (Catfish Hunter) won the majority of their titles with another team.

Here you go:

10 World Series: Yogi Berra

9: Joe DiMaggio

7: Hank Bauer; Bill Dickey; Mickey Mantle; Phil Rizzuto; Babe Ruth.

6: Frankie Crosetti; Whitey Ford; Lou Gehrig; Joe Gordon (won one of his with Cleveland); Johnny Murphy; Vic Raschi; Allie Reynolds; Red Ruffing

5: Joe Collins; Lefty Gomez; Catfish Hunter (3 with Oakland); Derek Jeter; Tony Lazzeri; Eddie Lopat; Gil McDougald; Johnny Mize; Paul O’Neill (1 win Cincinnati); Andy Pettitte; Mariano Rivera; Red Rolfe; George Selkirk; Moose Skowron (1 with Dodgers); Gene Woodling.

I didn’t need to know any of this.

What's next?

OK, so this was supposed to be a funny newsletter about how our oldest daughter Elizabeth cut my hair over the weekend. It was going to be filled with all sorts of one-liners and punchlines about her getting back at me for all the embarrassing Dad things I’ve done such as come into her room when she’s on the phone with her boyfriend and say: “Hey I have a question for you.”

“Hold on,” she says bitterly as she pulls the phone away from her ear and gives me the look that says, “If I don’t get out of this house soon I will literally melt into a puddle of teenage fury.”

“It’s important,” I say.

“WHAT?” she asks in all capital letters.

“How does a cow get information?”

“Get out! Get out now!”

“From the moos-paper,” I said.

At this point, I ams sent out of the room by some sort of rage rays and the door slams, and I get why she is upset. Newspapers are having a rough time right now. Anyway, I really thought she was going to leave me looking like Bert from Sesame Street as an act of teenage rebellion.

There were two things I failed to appreciate. One is that I am bald. I am not balding. I am bald. The hair that does grow is just as likely to come out of my ear anywhere n my head … and MORE likely than it is to grow off the top of my head. So, honestly, there really was only so much damage she could have done.

But the second thing I missed is this: Elizabeth is really good at this kind of stuff. She is like a beauty savant. She does makeup for her sister and mother. She’s really into SFX makeup — the other day she came into my office looking as if there was a unzipd zipper on her face and blood was gushing out (this, apparently, is the teenage version of the Dad joke). So, she cut my hair flawlessly and when she was done it looked EXACTLY the way it does when I get it cut at Sports Clips or wherever I get my hair cut that month.


I mean I have been wasting my money for YEARS because I have a daughter at home who can basically cut my hair the exact same way.

I’m sorry I don’t have a funnier story to tell you. Now, the horrendous beard I’m growing … well, that’s a whole other story.

So, yeah, I did think about taking a long break after the Baseball 100. No, seriously, I did think about it. The Baseball 100 really did take a lot out of me. I still feel some of the after-effects. But, as you probably guessed if you follow this blog or anything else I have done, I am not capable of stopping. It’s a problem. I have friends who can just go to the beach and sit in a chair for like 43 straight days. I envy that. Well, I don’t envy the beach part because, as covered in the PosCast, beaches are horrendous. But I envy the ability to just turn off, decompress, relax. I can sometimes do it for like an hour.

And then I think, “It’s been a while since I’ve looked at Dale Murphy’s Baseball Reference page.”

Or I think, “I ought to write a 6,000 word thing about that scene in Megamind where Metro Man (Brad Pitt) starts singing.”

So, no, taking a long break after the Baseball 100 was never really in the cards. I probably should have taken at least a couple of days, or even one day, but I didn't. Maybe I will this weekend. But for now, I’ve already sketched out the next project.

And what is it? Drumroll please …

No, forget the drumroll. Too dramatic.

I’m tentatively calling it 60 Moments. My editor Kaci Borowski and I are still playing with the name. But here’s the idea: I’m going to count down the 60 greatest moments in baseball history(!)(?).

Here’s the thing: This list I’ve put together is wild. It’s different. It is not going to just be the moments you expect … in fact, I can tell you up front that one of the moments you undoubtedly expect to be on there will not be on there. Actually, it’s likely that several moments you expect will not be on there, but I know at least one for sure.

The idea is to come up with the 60 moments that best express the joy of baseball. And also, since it is a companion list to the Baseball 100, there will be some moments on there that highlight great players who just missed out on the 100 (and some moments missing that have already been highlighted in the 100). I worked really hard on the list, and while it’s still at least a little bit in flux, I think it’s pretty fun.

If we do it right, I think it will be pretty spectacular.

What are the chances we do it right? Well, it did take me three tries to finish the Baseball 100.

Why 60? Well, there is actually a specific reason beyond the name “60 Moments” (does it work? I can’t tell). As you will see, the list is timed. How? Well, I won’t go into any more details because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. But I will say this: As of this writing, we don’t know when baseball will be back. One of the hopes is that this list will make you smile and think about baseball in the meantime … and maybe real baseball will be there at or near the end.

Anyway, that’s the plan. Look for 60 Moments to begin soon, thought it might be called something else like “Three moments.”

On the PosCast this week, I talk with Brandon McCarthy and one of the greatest ever pitchers in baseball history (from Australia) Peter Moylan. We draft the funniest things we’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond. I had a huge advantage, having covered the Royals throughout the 2000s. All five or my draft picks are mid-2000s Royals moments.

On next week’s PosCast, it looks like Michael Schur and I (and a couple of guests) will break down the new Name of the Year ballot, which came out today.

Thank you all for your kind words about my grandmother, Miriam Perel, who passed away over the weekend at age 95. She was a powerhouse, and she lived a rich and full life, and I feel very lucky for knowing her.

There has been some buzz on Twitter for some reason about the John Fogerty song “Centerfield.” It seems many people feel like this is a great song, perhaps even the best baseball song. I believe deeply, as Nick Offerman has said so eloquently, that everybody should get to like what they like without having to endure the taunts and carping of others. And so if you are one of those people who loves “Centerfield,” I want to say to you: Enjoy it. Love it. Don’t let anybody break your stride.

Man do I hate that song, though. I mean, seriously, what a malcontent. The coach has already decided to sit you, buddy — maybe because your homemade bat is terrible. You’re not Roy Hobbs, OK? Buy a bat. And quit bragging about how new your shoes, we don’t care.

If you have a chance, please catch my friend Gary Gulman’s ranking of consonants on Twitter (#GulmanTop21Consonants). Gary and I just love ranking things.

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