And damnit, you should miss them too! *sniff*
Who knows when MLB is coming back? The players and owners are in a stare down that might result in no season being played. They seem to have gotten a bit closer in their negotiations, but still too far to strike a deal. The clock is ticking, so there is really no telling when MLB will return, or what it will look like when it does.
That sucks ass.
I miss MLB. The KBO was fun for a while, but I'm pretty much over it. And no, not because the team I chose to be a fan of, the Lotte Giants, has scuffled lately after a hot start. I miss MLB because I miss seeing the best players in the world play the best game in the world.
It's the little things that matter the most. Little things that you can't find anywhere other than in Major League Baseball. Yeah, I miss playoff races, walk-off bombs, diving catches, and all the shit that every fan loves. That's just baseball stuff, though. The leagues currently operating overseas have that too. What I really long for, though, are those itty bitty things that you only find while watching MLB. You might not even have recognized them until they were gone, like they are for the foreseeable future.
Here's a few of them.
The Athletics' white cleats
Absolutely elite. The signature detail of the club that is, in my opinion, the best-dressed squad in the Majors. Actually, you know what? In all of sports. There, I said it. The Oakland Athletics have the best effing uniforms in all of sports, and I sure do miss them and their snazzy white spikes. It helps that they seem to always be a little-engine-that-could type of team, with their tiny payroll and consistent contention. If I wasn't born in a city that already had a baseball team, I'd be an A's fan.
Joey Votto doing odd things at the plate
Votto is a mad scientist at the dish. I'm 27 years old and I started watching baseball when I was around four or five. So that gives me roughly two decades worth of MLB viewership. In all my time observing hitters, I have never seen a player so overtly-cerebral while hitting. Every year, he seems to whip out some crazy new way to get his mind and body in the right place, constantly tinkering to get the results he wants. There are a lot of guys that are analytical, but they usually do it with one foot in the box between pitches, just staring off into the void, thinking about stuff. Not Votto. He's turning 37 this year and coming off of the worst season of his career; I'm not sure how much longer we will get to appreciate his little idiosyncrasies.
Adeiny Hechavarria's bat flips
Adeiny Hechavarria might be the most consistent bat-flipper in the game. It's really just a part of his swing; any time he squares a ball up, you can bet that his follow-through will seamlessly end in a bat flip that sometimes completes a 900-degree rotation or more. It's that aggressive. He's always had a below-average bat, as he's made a career out of being a solid defender. But man, can he pimp singles. You can keep your Tim Andersons and your Bryce Harpers. Those bat flips aren't organic. They don't flow like Hechavarria's. In terms of aesthetics, there's no comparison.
THROW IT BACK!
Get your weak-ass home run ball outta here! I enjoy the custom of throwing back home run balls hit by the opposing team. It's funny, it gets the crowd going, and every now and then, it shows off the arm strength of a fan that might have played some ball back in the day. Remember that throw at Fenway Park that hit Giancarlo Stanton? That was a nice little toss.
The Maddux Pitch
Full disclosure; I hated this pitch when I was playing. The reason it's on this list is because I think it's nasty and pretty to watch on TV. I'm talking about the two-seamer/sinker from a right-hander that starts at a lefty's hip and runs over the inside corner. It froze me every time. This was one of Greg Maddux's deadliest weapons, hence the name. I have seen this pitch a few times in the KBO, but it doesn't seem as common as it is here in the States. The current Maddux Pitch flag-bearers include Rick Porcello, Marcus Stroman, Johnny Cueto, Jake Arrieta, and Corey Kluber. Jake Peavy and Bartolo Colon also carried the torch for a while after "The Professor"retired.
Bat-break over the knee
Have you ever tried that shit? Next time you have a bat in your hands, hold it on either end and gently tap it against the area above your knee. Simulate the motion. It doesn't feel great. I admit that I did consider going for the bat-snap at certain moments in my pro career when I was really struggling, but I never did. You just have to know you're gonna succeed. Nothing adds salt to the wound quite like striking out, then screwing up the bat-snap-over-the-knee maneuver. So embarrassing. But when it is pulled off, I find it's one of the most entertaining exemplifications of anger in all of sports.
Duane Kuiper's home run calls
You know which one I'm talking about. For the last few decades, every significant San Francisco Giants home run has been accompanied by Kuiper's famous call. He hits it high...he hits it deeeeep...it. is. outta heeeere! (or some iteration of that). I love it. And I sure do miss it.
Mike Trout's golf bombs
I'm not talking bout Mike Trout blasting a golf ball roughly 780 yards at Topgolf, though that was pretty sweet. I'm talking about Mike Trout being able to turn conventional pitching on its head by hitting home runs off pitches at his shins. This is a good spot against practically every other hitter that has ever lived. Not Trout. He's demolishes pitches that are low and out of the strike zone, for no one drops the head of the bat like him. Just one of the many superior talents of the best baseball player I've ever seen.
Max Scherzer's grunts
Max Scherzer's next-level intensity is always on full display in the big moments of a game. His heterochromiatic glare is proceeded by a guttural roar that comes out when he needs to add a tick or two to his fastball or a little extra bite to his slider. Its bad-ass. Like Votto, Scherzer is another player who needs to be appreciated, as he is a soon-to-be 36-year-old with superior skill but a balky back. Enjoy it.
Barehanded fan catches
This has always boggled my mind. Maybe it's because I played, so I have a lot of respect for an incoming baseball and would never even consider trying to catch it with my bare hand. I don't know. But the fans that are able to catch a home run or foul ball without a glove on have my utmost respect. That shit hurts. Like, it really hurts. Yet they make it look so easy and sometimes don't even drop whatever else they are holding (beer, hot dog, child, etc.). I really don't get it, but I like watching it.
I want Major League Baseball back. To quote Champ Kind of Anchorman,
"We need you. Hell, I need you. I'm a mess without you. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you, I miss being near you. I miss your laugh. I miss your scent; I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together!"
Pretty much sums it up. So let's go, MLB owners and MLBPA (but, mostly, MLB owners). Figure it out one time, Jesus.