The worst thing about this time of year is missing the games themselves. Let's face it, during the season, the beauty of baseball is its constant presence. Just about every day, there is a game to watch, to think about, to pour over the box score and watch the highlights. Suddenly, the season ends and we are left with the violence and politics of the NFL and the "load management" of the new NBA. Or you have hockey. Meh. That's just me. If you like all those things, I encourage you to enjoy yourself. But this article is not really about you.
If you are a baseball lifer and baseball is your favorite sport (or only sport), then this time of year is a drag. Here are some tips:
- Go back on MLB.com and re-watch old games. It is not the same, but it helps.
- Spend your free time pouring over baseball-reference.com. Here you have every box score since time began. What endless fun!
- Play Strat-O-Matic baseball or join a league. I just joined one and I am looking forward to it.
- Learn your favorite teams' prospects. Who had good years, who got bumped up several levels. Dream about their potential and future.
These are just a few tips of learning to cope without baseball every day.
Let's face it, every fan wants to know what their team is going to do over the winter to improve your team. You want that big free agent or that sensational trade that will fill you with excitement for the coming season. Slow your heart rate down. Some moves do not seem that much and turn out to be and the odds of your team getting the biggest studs on the market are slight.
I will mention two or three players that were greeted by ho-hums by fans and the media when the deals happened: DJ LeMahieu, Howie Kendrick and Jake Odorizzi. Now imagine their teams without them this past season? Front offices are often filled with talented evaluators who, surprisingly, know what they are doing. Think about Yankee fans last off season who said, "DJ LeMahieu? Who? Where is he going to play?"
Often, a move that fans are very excited about fizzles under the glare of reality. Giancarlo Stanton, David Price and Andrew Miller come to mind.
And what about those huge free agents on the market? The reality is that your favorite team has a one in thirty shot of landing a Gerrit Cole. Well, if you eliminate the historically cheap teams like the Royals, the Rays and some others, then perhaps the odds are more like one in twenty. The thing is, one team's fan base is going to be very excited and two-dozen others are going to be disappointed. My way of coping is to manage my expectations and not get excited unless there is an actual signing and then not getting too concerned about my team having to go different routes.
Do NOT Listen To Rumors!
Since we miss baseball, our minds have to fixate on something and so we buy into the rumor mill and every single article and tweet that speculates about who is going where. The fact is, we will not know until we know....yanno?
There is an entire site devoted to MLB rumors. You know who they are. Every sports site in the world right now is featuring their predictions and speculations of who is going where. Do not get sucked into this stuff. It is meaningless. They do not know as much as you and I do not know. Heck, we still get surprised when a team signs a manager we never expected. Things will play out when they play out. This is one time when you want to be a reactionary and not a speculator.
There is one prominent baseball journalist who is suspected of supposedly being fed false information by Scott Boras. Not only are those rumors wrong, but they are intentionally wrong whether or not this baseball hack is aware he is being used or not. To be sure, he is probably not the only one. Misinformation and misdirection is a part of the scheme of agents. What better way to drive up prices for their clients than creating a competitive climate (whether it exists or not)?
Baseball sites need one thing and they need them desperately: clicks! Every site needs clicks to either make money or to be relevant. Me, I've given up trying that gig. I am like John Lennon watching the wheel spin round and round. These sites need clicks even more now because there is no on-the-field news they can report.
And so, those clicks are speculation, rumors, predictions and all this supposedly knowledgeable reporting that is based on air. Again, no one knows and no one will know until a free agent signs with his new team. And even then, when a new round of speculation begins on what the signing means, do not get sucked in and manage those expectations.
The bottom line here is that surviving these three excruciating months without baseball is to get your buzzes where you can by looking at stuff that has already happened, manage expectations and shield yourself from the rumor mill. Before you know it, we will know who is going to play for our teams and rosters will show up in Florida and Arizona again to start the cycle all over in gloriously new circumstances. If you need a hug, let me know.