Baseball: The College Years
May 16, 2012 by Joshua Duffy • Print Story •
Graduation season is always interesting because it provides the perfect juncture of an over-romanticized vision of the past with an over-idealistic vision of the future. Everything that has happened has brought us to this glorious achievement, from which the possibilities are endless.
Of course those of us who've put a few years between those high-spirited days know different. Graduation day was nothing more than a change in scenery, and often it lead to the removal of a protective barrier from the "real world" to come.
The insular world of high school turns into either a life spent working crap jobs for people who went to college, or a Pandora's box of debauchery and much harder classes that will sharpen many and leave others by the wayside.
College leads to jobs. If you're lucky.
And then you realize you only have 40-50 years left until you can stop working. Again, if you're lucky.
But back to those days when you didn't know all that (and if you just found out, sorry). Remember back then? Remember all those possibilities?
In baseball, that's the end of spring training. Everybody is done with the games that don't really count (a great metaphor for high school), and it's time to get off into the "real world."
For those who follow the college path, freshman year is like the first six weeks of the baseball season. You can't win anything, but you can certainly screw yourself over pretty damn good.
From there through the All-Star Break is sophomore year. You're in the thick of things, but you're still working the gen eds and you're probably on your second or third major. Also, a lot of those people you hung out with all the time freshman year start to disappear.
Once you make past the All-Star Break, that's junior year. You've got a handle on things and the end seems closer than it actually is. Burnout can start to set in, and that's how you end up with an online learning industry based on people just needing 20 or so credits to complete their degree. This will only take approximately 15 more years to finish.
Then comes September and October, senior year, where the final preparations for the next stage of life are made. In college, you find out that all that work still doesn't mean that much when you can't land a decent job and have to move back into your parents' house. That's like winning 95 games and not making the playoffs.
But for those lucky ones who graduate and land that job and get into the really real word (the playoffs), well, still nothing is guaranteed. You could end up marrying a great person, having great kids and living happily ever after. Or you could end up getting fired, getting divorced, and working for idiots as you try to make your child support payments for the next 15 years.
(In case you're wondering, I'm doing great thanks largely to my incredible good fortune.)
(Knock on wood.)
So with the longest meandering introduction to a baseball article this side of Matthew Berry (Crikey!), here's how baseball's 30 clubs break down in the spectrum of higher education.
Never made it out of high school. Good chance of ending up in jail.
Minnesota Twins: Worst team in baseball and no real prospects for turning things around. Maybe we need to start talking about contracting them again. Worked the last time.
Graduated high school, but college was never really an option. Now working menial jobs while getting drunk with buddies every night.
Chicago Cubs: Not a good team, but developing.
Kansas City Royals: Like Chicago, except BBQ instead of pizza.
San Diego Padres: Fact — every fish taco stand needs a fish taco stand vendor.
Houston Astros: They're giving it a go and even took two of three from St. Louis, but there's no way it holds up.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Two more months 'till Steelers training camp!
Junior college dropouts.
Colorado Rockies: If they gave awards for fantasy baseball keepers secretly killing your team, Troy Tulowitzki would be an all-star, Gold Glover and top-five MVP candidate.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Kirk Gibson ANGRY!!!!!!!!
Oakland A's: There's always three years from now!
Disappeared after freshman year. (Flunked out, knocked up, bored, and broke. College life ain't for everybody.)
Cleveland Indians: The only starting pitchers with an ERA under 4 are Derek Lowe and Jeanmar Gomez. Anybody who thinks that's going to last has been drinking the bong water.
Boston Red Sox: With their current payroll, if the Sox play .500 ball for the rest of the season, they would end up at right about $22 million spent per win this season. That's a lot of fried chicken and beer.
Seattle Mariners: Two good starters, good closer, but nowhere near enough offense to hang for the long term.
Dropping out after sophomore year of college to be the next Bill Gates only to end up working at Best Buy.
Milwaukee Brewers: Nyjer Morgan is the equivalent of crazy chick you have a one-night stand with, then calls you 20 times per day and shows up at your dorm room and freaks out your roommates.
Kicked out for buying papers off TermPapers.com.
Los Angeles Angels: How many times are we going to see owners spend stupid money on pieces that don't fit together before they realize it doesn't work? But hey, at least they fired loyal employee Mickey Hatcher. That should fix things right up.
Florida Marlins: The Frankenstein of baseball teams.
Philadelphia Phillies: Last year was the year. It didn't happen, and now the walls are crumbling.
Chicago White Sox: If I gave you Barak Obama Electoral Votes (-80) over Adam Dunn strikeouts, would you take it?
Smoked so much pot they actually made it to junior year majoring in "Classics."
San Francisco Giants: When Tim Lincecum is your worst starting pitcher, you've got a pretty decent chance.
Baltimore Orioles: The young over-achieving teams rarely have enough depth to last the season. In a couple of years, though, Peter Angelos will have a pretty good team to destroy.
Toronto Blue Jays: And just like that, Jose Bautista became Jose Bautista again.
New York Mets: If you had to pick a team that best represents slightly-above-mediocrity in baseball, it would be these guys.
Cincinnati Reds: Scott Rolen is the zombie of baseball players. Somebody is actually going to have to shoot him in the head to make him stop playing.
Graduated with honors, but top out in middle management. Probably have an affair and buy a red sports car in the early 50s.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The fake boobs of baseball teams.
Atlanta Braves: If we're using baseball players to cast "The Avengers 2," Freddie Freeman is the "Hulk."
Graduated with a film degree, moved back in with folks, ends up winning multiple Oscars.
Washington Nationals: No team in any division is set up better for a half-decade of dominance like the Nats. They're just not there yet.
Detroit Tigers: I'd like them more if they got rid of the Mel Gibson of baseball players in Delmon Young.
Tampa Bay Rays: Just imagine how good they'll be when Matt Moore is half as good as he's supposed to be.
Graduated with a great job they didn't really earn.
NY Yankees: The Mitt Romney of baseball teams.
Future CEOs of America —Yahoo! edition.
St. Louis Cardinals: Talent everywhere, but every team needs the manager to pull the right strings at just the right time to keep things going. Mike Matheny has not yet shown that ability. That doesn't mean he won't, but he hasn't yet.
Future CEOs of America — Facebook edition.
Texas Rangers: Yu Darvish was a home run signing, and Josh Hamilton is a runaway AL MVP candidate right now. They're either winning the World Series or going down as one of the top 10-15 teams in history to not win it.