I opened the year 2019 rocking out to 'Man it's so Loud in Here' at the Theatre of Living Arts, as Flans and Linnell rocked it like it was 2001. I am ending the year 2019 having several beverages in my house, eating unhealthy food and collapsing shortly after midnight.
I'm only 24 but I'm embracing middle age.
Anyway. It's New Years Eve, and it's been 365 days since I did the last one, so I'm gonna do another post documenting a bunch of things that happened this year in some ironic fashion. Given the amount of beverages consumed, this might not be as coherent as usual.
Okay, lemme...compose my thoughts. Usually I prep and figure out an order, but I'm just gonna go for it.
This was the year that I made more customs I've ever made for the blog, after a February and March where it became apparent that my usual photo source would be letting me down and I had to rush to find a new one. This is how you recover from defeat. I found a more complex but rewarding process to find photos and make customs, and I'm gonna keep it going for 2020.
This was the year that Beck Hansen put out the best album of the year, and said album was produced by Pharrell Williams, and it was still technically a rock album.
This was the year that Topps brought back Topps Total...as a mishandled online exclusive set. Hashtag thanks Topps.
This was the year that Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson, Jake Arrieta, Jean Segura and Jared Hughes all played for my hometown team...and they still couldn't get past 4th.
This was the year that I found my first card show nickel bins, and they were glorious.
This was the year that The Big Bang Theory had its best episode in like 7 years, and it was the finale, because they didn't wanna decide to be good before then.
This was the year that I went to my therapist and he handed me a bunch of 1972 Topps When they were Young subset cards, and I asked if HE was the one that was crazy.
This was the year that my company moved into an office with the world's single best chicken sandwich on the floor below us. Move over Chick-Fil-A and Popeyes, this place is ten fathoms of legit.
This was the year that I made a serious run at collecting 2019 Topps Archives because every retail story seemed to carry it late in the year instead of carrying anything I wanted [read: Topps Holiday set]. Still working on that set.
This was the year that Rian Johnson made the best movie of the year. Anyone who hasn't seen Knives Out yet needs to.
This was the year that Edwin Encarnacion got to play for the Yankees, and it was pretty cool. Very excited for Gerrit Cole next year.
This was the year that the Washington Nationals won the World Series about a year after my girlfriend moved to the DC metropolitan area. Am now trying to convince her to move back to NYC so the Yanks can get another ring.
This was the year that Game of Thrones and Star Wars suffered a debilitating case of writer incongruity. You can't hand off your saga to another writer and expect things to feel like one unified idea.
This was the year that Panini brought back Leather & Lumber as a 2 packs-for-20-bucks retail set. It was, uh, alright.
This was the year that Mike Trout won his 3rd MVP, Jacob deGrom won his 2nd Cy Young, and Rob Manfred won the right to keep altering the baseballs until the game's completely ruined.
This was the year that I took my dad to his first Old Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium, and we saw Mariano Rivera hit an inside-the-parker. Justin Verlander pitched a gem that day.
This was the year that I saw Hozier in concert, and the dude killed it. One of the best shows I've been to.
This was the year that I got to witness Atlanta decking itself for the Super Bowl. That is one awesome city. Great food, great attitude. Super Bowl was a little half-baked, but the city was shining for it.
This was the year that Topps put out one of its best flagship sets since 2015. There, I said it.
Not a bad year. A little spotty, a little dormant, but not terrible. I'm interested to see where we go in the next decade. The 2020s look to be a pretty exciting one, not just for baseball or the world, but for me. I hope we get to where we wanna go, in general.
Happy New Year to all of you. Enjoy yourselves, but not too much.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Everyone knew the Yankees would have a big year, but nobody could have predicted that it would be these Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton was sidelined due to injury for most of the year, and the team had to win games without him, trading for DH options and trying a different outfield approach. Stanton when he was healthy fared okay, hitting .288 in the regular season before tanking in the playoffs.
Why Him in 2019?: Opened the door for Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin to start games.
2020 Prediction: A more classic Stanton year- 40 homers, .270 average, the king returns.
Why Him in 2019?: Came through as a clutch staple for us.
2020 Prediction: Will have his last 30-homer year with Chicago
Why Him in 2019?: Became the starting option for a team that didn't know they needed him.
2020 Prediction: Will play 110 games amid the crowded outfield and will have 25 homers.
Why Him in 2019?: Stepped down so Sevvy could start games late.
2020 Prediction: Will win 10 games, but not sure if they'll be for the Yankees.
Why Him in 2019?: Ensured that the Yankees would be alright in starting pitching for the playoffs.
2020 Prediction: 17 wins, 300 Ks, and some major Cy Young support.
Why Him in 2019?: Took hold of 1st for the Yankees for 2 glorious months
2020 Prediction: Back to Scranton for a bit, but will definitely be called upon throughout the year.
Why Him in 2019?: The most unassuming, yet deadly, bullpen asset for NY
2020 Prediction: Slightly higher ERA, but same amount of playing time
Why Him in 2019?: Continued his reign as one of the most impressive relievers in baseball.
2020 Prediction: Will have to close games at some point, and will do so handsomely.
Why Him in 2019?: 37 saves for the biggest team in the game
2020 Prediction: His first 40-save year is coming. Get ready.
Why Him in 2019?: Even in his last season in the majors, and at 38, he was still striking people out like a pro. And will be missed.
That was the last custom of 2019, and these were the last customs til February or March. Hope you can wait til then.
Monday, December 30, 2019
It's weird talking about the 2019 White Sox knowing that they're going to look a lot different in 2020. We already know that Yasmani Grandal, Cheslor Cuthbert, Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara, Tayron Guerrero, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and several more years of Jose Abreu will be at Guaranteed Rate Field next year. Also, at least one of the players in this post won't be with the team in 2020.
Either way, the White Sox had moments of the spark hitting, and for a good month in May, they were doing pretty well in mid-standings. But...it didn't last too long, and though they ended up in third, it was in front of two 100-loss teams. So in any other division, they might be in at least fourth with their 89 losses.
Yolmer Sanchez, a charter member of these middling Sox teams, had another decent year in 2019, getting his first gold-glove at 2nd, and cleaned up in the field despite his subpar batting numbers.
Why Him in 2019?: ...he got a gold glove! And I should have done him during the season.
2020 Prediction: Will suit up for another team, but maaaay not be a starting option.
Why Him in 2019?: Filled in for Michael Kopech as the rookie arm standout
2020 Prediction: Will have to fight for a spot in the rotation, and may not be a factor until midseason.
Why Him in 2019?: Top-tier bullpen guy for a dire team.
2020 Prediction: His numbers will take a dip, but I still think he's gonna chase 100 strikeouts with his usage.
Why Him in 2019?: Veteran feel-good bench guy of the team
2020 Prediction: Not sure who has a place for him, but I expect a minor league deal to lead to some playing time eventually.
Coming Tomorrow- The last new customs of 2019, some members of my beloved, World-Series-less-for-the-decade Yankees.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
The Minnesota Twins hit more home runs than any other team in baseball this year. And were subsequently swept in 3 games by the Yankees. Baseball's fickle like that.
I was still very impressed with how the Twins bounced back by taking low-rent free agents and making them soar under circumstances. CJ Cron, with a photo taken after Tyler Skaggs' death, had a season very similar to his 2018 in Tampa, with a 25-homer year with a .253 average. Not bad, but not the best 1B numbers coming from this team (that'd be Marwin Gonzalez)
Why Him in 2019?: 25 homers on a one-year deal.
2020 Prediction: Will hit 30 in Detroit and double Brandon Dixon's team-leading total from this year.
Why Him in 2019?: Stumbled in July to let Luis Arraez conquer the position for 2020.
2020 Prediction: Will slowly lose playing time to Harold Castro.
Why Him in 2019?: Conceded to Garver, and his lessened playing time led to Garver hitting 31 homers.
2020 Prediction: Will be signed somewhere as a backup.
Why Him in 2019?: Probably the most consistent, non-showy arm in Minneapolis this year.
2020 Prediction: Will win 15 games in Arlington.
Why Him in 2019?: Hung onto the fourth spot even when rookies came in late.
2020 Prediction: Will be a mediocre fifth man in Boston
Why Him in 2019?: Fell so Smeltzer and Dobnak could rise
2020 Prediction: Will pitch a similar season for the Twins after coming back from the suspension.
Why Him in 2019?: Started Game 2 of the ALDS.
2020 Prediction: A full season of similar production.
Why Him in 2019?: A good preview of an arm to come for the Twins
2020 Prediction: Will start 25 games, win 10 of them and nobody will question him again.
Why Him in 2019?: Twins mascot in April
2020 Prediction: Hopefully more playing time. This guy's a gem.
Why Him in 2019?: With the exception of Luis Arraez who was starting by the end, most valuable utility/bench guy.
Why Him in 2019?: Closed 30 games for the AL Central champs.
2020 Prediction: Will close THIRTY-FIVE games for the AL Central champs.
Why Him in 2019?: Fueled the bullpen renaissance in August.
2020 Prediction: Another season of solid work in Minneapolis.
Coming Tomorrow- Just a few White Sox. Consider it the calm before the storm.
Saturday, December 28, 2019
I didn't think the Detroit Tigers could get worse than they did in 2018, but with 114 losses compared to 98, I guess my expectations took a hit this year.
This year was so bad that one of the leading candidates for a post-season custom from the Tigers was Spencer Turnbull. Turnbull had seventeen losses, and a 1.436 WHIP. This is our marquee guy, folks.
Why Him in 2019?: Started 30 games in his rookie year.
2020 Prediction: Similar K numbers, but better W/L ratio. So...the team has to be better.
Why Him in 2019?: Led the Tigers in home runs with FIFTEEN. LORD.
2020 Prediction: Won't have to start many games cause the Tigers will be better? Please?
Why Him in 2019?: Hit .310 and .318 in July and September respectively
2020 Prediction: Will be a utility man after losing a starting spot to Jonathan Schoop
Why Him in 2019?: His numbers in September saved the team from being completely eradicated from relevance.
2020 Prediction: Will usurp JaCoby Jones' outfield spot and become a new team hero.
Coming Tomorrow- The best-hitting AL team of the year, those Minnesota Twins.
Just look at Billy Hamilton: The guy was signed in an effort to bring speed and star power back to Kansas City, and by August he's playing for the Braves. Even the temporary solutions aren't permanent.
Why Him in 2019?: Brought in as a major piece for the rebuilding era of the Royals
2020 Prediction: Will start the whole season at 2nd and do marginally better than this year, but when the big guns get traded (and they will), no one will exactly look to Lopez as a figure of leadership or authority.
Why Him in 2019?: Rare veteran starter in KC who had a positive W/L ratio and stayed until September.
2020 Prediction: Will start 30 games, get 10 wins, and not really get much credit for it
Why Him in 2019?: His May/June starting numbers gave the team hope.
2020 Prediction: A slightly lower ERA, but a lot of the same mediocrity
Why Him in 2019?: 31 of those strikeouts came in his scorching August, where he posted a 2.43 ERA.
2020 Prediction: A full season in Kansas City will lead him to an eventual Mike-Minor-esque career reformation post-trade.
Coming Tonight: An equally meek AL Central team, those...hard-to-write-about Detroit Tigers
Thursday, December 26, 2019
A year after making the playoffs and becoming a sleeper hit basically overnight, the Colorado Rockies followed things up by winning 70 games and acting like nothing ever happened. Lovely.
Ian Desmond is still a lineup presence, because the Rockies are trying to fulfill as much as his overdone contract as possible before cutting him. Desmond had a 20-home-run year, but hit .255 with 119 strikeouts.
Why Him in 2019?: Made it back to the outfield after David Dahl got injured.
2020 Prediction: Back to underwhelming bench numbers
Why Him in 2019?: Was fighting as a lone competent starter for a lot of the year.
2020 Prediction: Hopefully the Rox get enough good pitchers so they can finally pitch this guy in the bullpen. He's the Vince Velasquez of the west.
Why Him in 2019?: Best bullpen performer hands down on the team.
2020 Prediction: Does more of the same, gets traded in July.
Why Him in 2019?: Only gave up 1 earned run in 11 September appearances.
2020 Prediction: They give him the closing gig after Davis blows it once more, he gets huge in the ninth.
Why Him in 2019?: Pitched 89 innings in his rookie year.
2020 Prediction: A 4 ERA, but won't be entirely spent as a starter.
Why Him in 2019?: Potentially extended his career longevity by not sucking in the second half.
2020 Prediction: Will DH somewhere.
Coming Tomorrow- The Royals lost 100 games this year, and we'll figure out why.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
In addition to the Reds from earlier who began the season with the team, you also have to account for call-ups and trades and everything, which made the team even more interesting as we went on.
For instance, Nick Senzel, the big rookie prospect who was blocked at third by Eugenio Suarez, so spent the season in the outfield with Jesse Winker. Senzel did fairly well, hitting .256 in 105 games, with 42 RBIs...despite being one of the 3 Reds to strike out more than 100 times.
Why Him in 2019?: Big rookie prospect debut.
2020 Prediction: Will up his production to about a .280, and will reach 25 homers.
Why Him in 2019?: Started some games in Barnhart's absence, which helps.
2020 Prediction: Will be starting by September.
Why Him in 2019?: In 15 July games he hit .417 with 4 homers- not bad for pre-Aquino rookie hitting.
2020 Prediction: Due to Winker, Senzel, Aquino and Phil Ervin, might not get much starting time.
Why Him in 2019?: Hit .432 in July- again, the whole outfield must have been scorching that month
2020 Prediction: Will be given a full season and will become a fan favorite, and hit .300
Why Him in 2019?: One of the biggest arms in baseball finished disappointingly, and not making a custom is just humanity erasure.
2020 Prediction: 15 wins, 250 strikeouts, like the 2nd half never happened
Why Him in 2019?: Finally made starts after an injury, which is more than the Reds could have asked for given the circumstances.
2020 Prediction: Someone'll sign him, and he'll be a modest 4th starter somewhere.
Why Him in 2019?: Saved the Reds from scrounging an unsavory outfield
2020 Prediction: Will become a Cincinnati mainstay, and will likely see more time at SS.
Coming Tomorrow- Nothing, as I usually take off on Xmas. But on Thursday, expect some remnants of a disappointing Rockies team.
The Reds. The...fourth-place, sub-500 Reds.
And just to make sure, I already posted the following during the season- Derek Dietrich, Luis Castillo, Eugenio Suarez, Sonny Gray, Yasiel Puig, Amir Garrett, Tanner Roark, Aristedes Aquino, Anthony Desclafani and Joey Votto.
That's a large chunk of the Reds' story for this year. And I still had a ton more to make, because this team had so many people contribute to the overall story. And...they just had so many fun players.
For instance, the starting catcher, Tucker Barnhart. After his scorching gold-glove year a few years back, Barnhart has mellowed into a very safe, very okay catcher, with his fielding numbers at a 2, and his batting numbers still below zero. He was also injured for portions of the year, which was fun in itself.
Why Him in 2019?: Gave more time to Curt Casali, who definitely ran with it.
2020 Prediction: The Reds will make their mind up about how much of a liability Barnhart is.
Why Him in 2019?: His infield woes got the Reds to trade for Freddy Galvis
2020 Prediction: Will be the new Brock Holt in Boston...in every way that implies.
Why Him in 2019?: Proved he could start, especially after Senzel's call-up.
2020 Prediction: Will hit 25 homers, chase an ASG nod and finally come to his full power.
Why Him in 2019?: Acted as a bridge from Peraza in 2018 to Galvis next year
2020 Prediction: Someone's gotta sign him, but everyone seems pretty set at SS. My guess is Milwaukee.
Why Him in 2019?: Fell so the farm system could succeed
2020 Prediction: Preferably retirement, but someone could sign him to a minor league deal
Why him in 2019?: Probably the best two-way guy in the MLB, since Ohtani didn't pitch at all this year.
2020 Prediction: More homers, and a higher ERA, but same stuff.
Why Him in 2019?: Had more saves than any NL Central closer not named Hader.
2020 Prediction: Another 30 save year with a bit more consistency.
All these guys were in the picture on Opening Day. Tonight, a bunch of guys who were added to the roster over time.