...I dunno, I was expecting worse.
People are doing their fair share of '2017 was the worst, I can't wait for 2018', but, to be honest, I'm still giving 2016 the edge for 'worst year'. 2017, while flawed and at times haphazard, still allowed for some nice highlights and truly cool moments. Yes, I'm as willing as anyone else to get on to 2018, but I'd at least like to allow this year its proper memorial.
Like usual, I'll be pointing out specific trends, moments or feelings of the year, involving baseball, cards, and the rest of the world, starting each with 'this was the year that...'. You should know this by now, but here we go..
This was the year that the single biggest baseball star of the year, Aaron Judge, came from my team. And this was also the year that I was perfectly fine with snagging a jersey-shirt of his by the end of the year.
This was the year that Topps, once again, put out an incredibly mailed-in and uninspired flagship set, and doesn't seem to be interested in making any improvements to the formula whatsoever.
This was the year that around half of the current NFL teams in California have made plans to get the hell out. Also, probably unrelated, this was the year that part of California was on fire.
This was the year that they actually made a Blade Runner sequel that was better than the original. I never thought they could do that.
This was the year that I got to attend a game at Yankee Stadium, on Jackie Robinson day, against my least favorite team, the Cardinals. Not only did the Yankees win, but the Cardinals seemed pathetic and lifeless, and CC Sabathia proved the Yanks were smart to stick with him.
This was the year that Queens of the Stone Age put out the single most effective rock album of the year.
This was the year that I finally completed the 1990 Topps set, and the 1992 Stadium Club set. What's next? Not sure. Possibly another SC set?
This was the year that the Philadelphia Phillies put some moves in place to actually look pretty menacing going into the 2018 season. With Rhys Hoskins starting, Carlos Santana at first, Pat Neshek back in the bullpen, and a host of rookies getting their shot, this could be a pretty nice year for them.
This was the year that TV's biggest super villain was a mop that couldn't have waited another minute to fall over.
This was the year that, once again, the best baseball card release of the year was Topps Stadium Club. It's not like anything else comes close.
This was the year that I attended a game at Fenway Park, had some fantastic ballpark food, rooted for the Red Sox as they squeezed past the Indians, witnessed Austin Jackson perform the most amazing catch I've ever seen live, and wasn't found out by Boston police for being a Yankees fan.
This was the year that three of my favorite filmmakers, Edgar Wright, Guillermo Del Toro and Martin McDonagh, released some incredible films that deserve the acclaim they're getting.
This was the year that Topps decided to bring back Gallery as a Wal-Mart exclusive, badly priced, simply designed set. And it was...okay?
This was the year that I flew down to Florida and saw three Spring Training games, and checked out the Twins, Rays and Red Sox facilities. The games were fun, the weather was beautiful, and I got to have Kyle Gibson and Eduardo Escobar sign a ball for me.
This was the year that somehow got the bright idea to make another season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I never thought they could do that.
This was the year that the Philadelphia Eagles had the best record in football. What's more, I ended the year with a Carson Wentz jersey in my closet (as, subsequently, did Carson Wentz).
This was the year that the Houston Astros won their first World Series, and a well-deserved one at that, taking down the Dodgers and Yankees to get there. Not sure if this means any more will be in their future, but I did enjoy seeing them take these games.
This was the year that I made more customs than I've ever made, wrote more posts than I've ever written, and wheeled toward the end of my ninth year of blogging. Don't know how I could have done this.
So that was my 2017. It was seven flavors of crazy, but damn if I didn't enjoy myself. See you all in 2018.
Sunday, December 31, 2017
This was a Yankees team that didn't look like much initially, and looked like they'd do what they usually did this decade for a second...but then they got good, and they got good QUICKLY. By the end of the season they were red-hot, and nearly got to the World Series, if it wasn't for the infinitely better Houston Astros, who were gonna take us out no matter what.
Jacoby Ellsbury, despite his usual mid-year injury, hit well for us, eventually heading to the DH position once the Yankee outfield well got mighty thick. I'm not sure how he's gonna factor into the 2018 season- everything he's done can just be done by someone younger and healthier.
This was the year of Aaron Judge, by far. The guy broke out like nobody we've seen in this city in years, with home runs right and left, some incredible plate presence, some great outfield work, and with a hero complex that's satisfying the young fans of the Bronx. What I'm saying is if Aaron Judge can do what he did in 2017 for the rest of his career, we're all gonna be just fine.
Also...I received a Yanks t-shirt for the holidays. And I was happy to find a Judge 99 on the back. Life is good.
That was this year of customs, guys. Expect more of these in Spring Training, but sporadically, as you can never tell when a good photo of someone relevant is gonna pop up. I'll try to fill the void with posts about cards, as tough as that may be. I want this to be worthwhile for you guys, as well as for me.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
This could have been worse.
Yes, the White Sox were forced to shed Todd Frazier, Jose Quintana, Tommy Kahnle, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson over the course of the year, and yes, the Sox had to end the season in fourth place, but...they could be doing a lot worse. Besides, some of the people they've set up this year could lead them to a +.500 record in 2018.
Tim Anderson took a step back from his 2016 rookie year, batting under .250 and relying more on power than on consistency. With Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada looking ready, who knows where he'll fit into 2018.
Coming Tomorrow- The Yankees team I'd been waiting quite a while for.
Because I posted so many great Twins stars during the season, I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to give some impressive ones for this end-of-the-year bit. The Twins outdid their skeptics and manage to end the season with a Wild Card berth, a year after coming in last.
Adalberto Mejía was a charter member of their ragtag rotation, utilizing veterans, young stars, and Bartolo Colon. Mejia might be a Colon in the making- he's big, strong, and has a bloated ERA. He put up promising numbers, though, so the Twins may rely on him for the 2018 season.
Coming Tonight: They didn't wow people, but the youth movement may be bringing something big to the South Side next year.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Even as his teammates were disappearing, Castellanos didn't have too bad of a year, hitting .272 with a career high 26 homers, despite an infield whose quality worsened with every acquisition. I imagine Castellanos, along with Miguel Cabrera, Jose Iglesias and Michael Fulmer, will be the sole pillars of experience in Detroit next year.
Coming Tomorrow- Due to their amazing finish, I only have a few new ones, but some highlights from Minneapolis.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
2017 Royals. I imagine people will point to this squad as the last breath of those WS-competing teams of the middle part of the decade. It looks like Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain and Escobar are all leaving, and they're not leaving a lot behind. Even if Alcides Escobar hasn't had great numbers in a little while, he'll still be a potential commodity for someone.
I think we've established that Ian Kennedy isn't going to have many seasons like his Diamondbacks ones. He's...an alright veteran arm. That's all he is. His numbers in 2017 were very okay, with no real spectacular moments. This may be what we're getting from here on out.
Jorge Bonifacio had a promising rookie year, nabbing a starting spot early on and having some nice numbers as their tentpole stars declined. He'll probably be relied on a bit in 2018, if his numbers are consistent.
Jakob Junis was a late-season call-up that worked...admittedly better than Eric Skoglund. He had some great games, some good strikeout stuff, and maybe he'll nab a spot in the 2018 rotation (which won't be particularly difficult).
Mike Minor had a fantastic season in relief, doing even better than the pegged closer, Kelvin Herrera, and giving him the breakout season he needed as a reliever. Next year, the Rangers' plan is to employ Minor as a starter again, which...could work? I'm not sure. The Rangers seem to know what they're doing, but I'm still hesitant.
Coming Tomorrow- The dilapidated, cherry-picked, soon-to-be-Last-Place Tigers.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Big year for the Rockies. The youth and power they'd been building the last 4 years finally paid off and brought them a playoff-caliber squad. Hell, they barely relied on established star Ian Desmond, who they signed a multi-year contract for.
Raimel Tapia had a great rookie season, despite the initially crowded Rockies outfield that cleared up once David Dahl decided to sit the whole season out. Tapia will definitely be in the mix for the starting spots next season, as the Rockies are figure out how to deal with a sinking CarGo, a gaining Gerardo Parra, and the aforementioned Dahl.
Coming Tomorrow- Not necessarily playoff-caliber anymore, but with a high number of bats they still tried their damnedest this year.
Sunday, December 24, 2017
The least you can say about the 2017 Cincinnati Reds is that they were trying. The wheels were turning. The farm system was beginning to unleash some impressive people. The trouble, of course, was the pitching- the good pitchers got injured, leading to some less-than-perfect performances on the mound.
At the plate, the Reds were fine- Jose Peraza was the starter at 2nd on the year, eventually switching off with Scooter Gennett. He did...a good enough job.
Speaking of the end...
Coming Tomorrow- Nothing, as it's Christmas, but Uncustomed Heroes will be back on Tuesday with a team that got so dangerous that they nearly snuck into the playoffs.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Another year, another first round exit for the Boston Red Sox. The sad part is that this team is slowly getting better, and refining their strengths. No longer are they the 'playing for this year', ragtag team of bearded fellows from 2013, but they have a core of people that have been grown from the farm, and have been signed to build on their success. This is a team that's engineered for long-term success, and it's got to be frustrating that it hasn't happened yet.
Especially to people like Dustin Pedroia. Yes, the guy has been through two World Series-winning teams, but he probably expected it to be more consistent than just dropping everything and getting back a few years later. He had a down season this year, but hopefully will get back to more consistent offensive work.
Coming Tomorrow- A team that is slowly building back some momentum, despite losing a ton of veterans and heroes.
Friday, December 22, 2017
So, now that Evan Longoria's been traded, the Rays...still sort of exist, but might sink into oblivion for 2018. Yes, they still have Kiermaier, Dickerson, Morrison and the guys that did well this year, but they don't have the safe, franchise-building star that Longo was, so...now they have to rebuild a little. Alex Cobb did his usual work as a mid-rotation starter, which was nice, as Chris Archer is probably gonna leave soon as well.
Coming Tomorrow- They did well, but lost momentum just as their division rivals gained theirs.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Off year for the Rangers. Lots of injuries, inconsistency, and...lack of Yu Darvish. So overall, net loss.
Andrew Cashner had a very odd year. Half of his statistics said he had a great season, the other half said he had a poor one. I'm not sure which belief is the lay of the land. He got wins and a low ERA, but barely any strikeouts. I doubt the Rangers will be bringing him back next year.
Coming Tomorrow- The Rays just lost their franchise player, but they still have some talent left.
In an era where the Cubs are strong, the Brewers are building, and the Cardinals are desperate to compete, there's really not a place for the Pirates in the grand scheme of things.
Dn't get me wrong, they're not at 2008 levels of effeteness, but 2017 was another step in the opposite direction, as a lot of the young stars they were banking on either slumped or got caught with steroids (...Starling...).
Gregory Polanco had a down season, marred with injuries and pressure once Marte left.
Coming Tonight: A team that didn't seem to mind that they lacked a majority of the momentum that made them unbeatable last year.