I opened last year’s year-end review with a string of mewling complaints about how bad 2016 was. Buddy, I’m here from the future, and it can get worse. The catch phrase at the end of 2016 was “It can only go up from here!” The catch phrase at the end of 2017 is “as I fall deeper into the abyss, inching closer to a lonely death, know that I hated each and every one of you,” and boy if it doesn’t roll off the tongue.
This isn’t going to get better. Stop pretending like the end of the calendar year is going to fix anything. We’re trapped. All of us. We’re going to start using each other for food soon, and I’m OK with it.
Whoops, ha ha, got a little dark. Anyway, 2017 was also a year in which I wrote a bunch of dumb baseball articles. Some of them I liked! The end of the year always seems like a fine time to share them with you, and it will help you forget about ... you know ... the other stuff. The everywhere things. Baseball is important because it makes you forget about what’s important, and I love it so.
Here are Grant Brisbee’s favorite Grant Brisbee articles of the year, presented by me, Grant Brisbee:
This is one of my favorite genres, where I methodically scrutinize a baseball game using grainy screenshots and the occasional GIF. That reads like sarcasm, but I’m absolutely serious. There’s something about diving into the minutiae of a single game and remembering that every foul ball is a hitter not doing his job as well as he wants and that those are usually in front of every important hit. It will never fail to blow my mind.
This comeback was extra special because it happened against the Mariners, who had an absurd comeback of their own the previous year. They had earned this kind of pain.
I’m not sure about the rest of the pain the Mariners have accumulated, though. That probably exists because of something you did.
In which Jake Arrieta’s pitching coach hints that an out-of-nowhere success story must be dirty because he came out of nowhere. The pitching coach of Jake Arrieta, who arrived from Baltimore on a bus with a suitcase that had a hole in it and then became one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The pointless PED speculation was stupid then, and it’s stupid now. Sometimes it’s fun to get righteous. This was one of those times.
By most accounts, Strickland is actually a sweet feller. Respected by his teammates, nice to the fans, et cetera. But he sure is a dingus on the mound sometimes. There was no reason for him to throw at Bryce Harper, but boys will be boys. And boys are complete jackasses.
We just had a bunch of boys over for a holiday party, and we had paver stones flipped over, a pogo stick thrown into a tomato plant, and a chair that ended up on the roof. As the father of two sweet, perfect girls, these kinds of surprises are completely foreign to me, and I must reiterate that boys are complete jackasses. Especially these two baseball boys.
Anyway, the fight was funny because Harper looked extraordinarily silly throwing his helmet into right field, and I can watch it all day.
I love dumb baseball stuff. Intentional walks gave us the potential for dumb baseball stuff. Now there’s less dumb baseball stuff. You should be offended, too.
This was written before having that feeling of “Wait, what just h ... oh, right, the walk thing” 50 times during the season. It was always annoying, and I’ll never get used to it. But at least we shaved six seconds off every other game.
I write a lot of dumb things, but there’s a special spot in my heart for the dumbest. This piece of historical fiction was certainly the dumbest, featuring a one-note joke that Tom Brady would have made the Expos a successful franchise and a baseball institution.
Except I had all sorts of fun writing it and sucking different characters into my story, like a shirtless Pat Burrell and Montreal’s most popular basketball hero, Kevin Durant. It’s dumb, but it’s already written, so you might as well get dumb along with me.
I was so convinced that this was going to be the wildest baseball game I would see for a decade. People tried to tell me that Game 7 of the 2016 World Series was wilder, but that’s only because of the stakes inherent in a double-elimination game. Otherwise, that was a sloppy mess of a game with a couple of lead changes. A classic, to be sure. But it wasn’t like Game 2.
There was a fire outside of Dodger Stadium, and the whole place smelled like ash. I can’t stress that enough, and it certainly added to the scene, especially when some dude jumped into the Astros bullpen. In retrospect, they probably should have let him throw a few pitches, just to gauge the arm speed.
It was a blast to watch and a blast to write, especially considering that it was going to be the wildest baseball game I would watch for at least 72 hours.
HOME RUNS. They found shrapnel from this game in operating rooms 8 miles away. It was a dumb abomination of a baseball game that we’ll be talking about for years. My favorite part might be remembering that it was once a calm, mellow game with Clayton Kershaw in complete control. Or it might be this:
When you hit the HR ball so hard it explodes on impact pic.twitter.com/DDDtJANBaw— That Dude (@cjzer0) October 30, 2017
I think the national audience had to see a replay to pick up on the fact that the ball landed near the pyrotechnic display, but at the ballpark it was an immediate realization, and it was perfect. That game was baseball exploding. Here’s video proof.
I wasn’t a huge Here Comes the Pizza guy. I’d seen the video once or twice, but that was about it. Marc Normandin kept bugging me, though. “Hey, you gonna write about the anniversary?” “The anniversary of Here Comes the Pizza is coming up, you have plans?” So I dug into the video a little more.
And I came out of it a convert. Man, what a stupid and delightful moment in time that was captured perfectly by the perfect announcers to have describing it. A lot of stars had to line up for this moment.
There had to be a dude willing to throw his pizza at another human being, for example.
The history of Miami baseball — before it had Major League Baseball, even — is strange and painful. I used the horribamazing home run sculpture as a metaphor for it, and I was proud of how it turned out.
The thesis was this: Miami baseball is about to stop being strange and painful because new owners are coming, and they’ll realize how stupid it is to put this city through another painful, PR disaster of a rebuild.
Still, a lot of the other points hold. Kind of. I mean, if you squint.
This feature came after the first two games of the ALDS, when we weren’t sure if the Astros were going to last more than a few days in the postseason. If I had it to do over again, it would have been something that was published after Game 7, but there was no way to know.
In retrospect, there probably should have been a way to know. This team was special, and I loved following them. The Yuli Gurriel dumbassery took a little sheen off the perfect story, but there’s still a lot to love about the composition and timing of this team. I loved the moment George Springer, the Connecticut-born son of Panamanian and Puerto Rican immigrants, took the field with a gigantic Texas flag before Game 1 of the ALDS, exhorting the crowd and helping them forget about the pain that was all around them. It was incredibly Houston: a mish-mash of circumstances and realities that didn’t have to make sense, but ultimately did.
Houston is a strange, ugly, beautiful town that probably shouldn’t exist. This team was perfect for them.
Bonus: My favorite headlines from 2017
7. 3 questions about the Cubs coach who is dressed as a Juggalo lawyer
6. Pantless ruffian interrupts Giants-Brewers game, gets beans mashed into infield dirt
5. No, that Cubs player wasn’t flipping off the President of the United States
4. Aaron Judge was doubled off first and called out, but then he was safe after video review, but then he was about to be called out on appeal, so he was thrown trying to steal second, look, just take our word for it
3. Michael Jordan was more denim than man in 1993, and these pictures prove it
2. The Oakland A’s Twitter account told Wendy’s that its hamburgers cause diarrhea
1. Jeffrey Loria reportedly has agreement to sell Miami Marlins
Happy New Year, everybody! It probably won’t get better, but at least baseball will be as silly as ever, and we can use it to ignore everything. It’s as good a plan as any.