Prior to this wacky 2020 season, I’ve never known the nervousness that is thrust upon the fans of teams that play in October. I was born a few months after the 1997 World Series and was too young to remember the 2003 World Series, so, truthfully, my life as a Miami Marlins fan has been rather bleak. You’d think all this training as a Marlins fan would make me a pro at dealing with baseball-related sadness, but you’d be wrong! Baseball, the game itself, is different for me. Much like my mom’s lasagna or a hug from my best friend, baseball is comfort.
Almost every night for six months, baseball is there. If it’s been a good day, I celebrate with baseball. If it’s been a bad day, I cope with baseball. When its unwavering support is something you can rely on, it takes a while to adjust once it’s no longer there. If you’re struggling with the end of baseball season, you’re not alone. I’ve put together a few baseball-related things you can immerse yourself in during this offseason. Besides the ideas below, our staff will keep the Fish Stripes content coming all throughout the winter and into the new year. If you check out any of these suggestions, be sure to drop a comment or Tweet me your thoughts! I’m also always open to any of your ideas for how to keep baseball alive during the dreaded offseason, so don’t hesitate to reach out!
The MLB season might be over, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) began their playoffs earlier this week. ESPN is broadcasting games (in English) throughout November. Because of the time zone difference, most games are on at 4:30 a.m. ET, but you can find replays on the ESPN App or record the live broadcasts to view later. If you’re missing baseball, don’t miss out exciting baseball from the KBO!
If you aren’t able to catch KBO games, then simulation games are probably the next best thing. I finally took the plunge and got Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) earlier this year when the 2020 MLB season was suspended. I needed something, anything, baseball related to keep me occupied. OOTP didn’t disappoint. In the game, you’re able to control nearly every aspect of your team, including players from MLB, MiLB, Negro Leagues, international leagues, independent leagues, or historical leagues. Their Perfect Team game mode is also a cool way to incorporate the randomness of opening packs of cards while also grabbing cards in the auction house using points earned from in-game challenges.
If you already play OOTP, let me know your favorite card you’ve collected in Perfect Team. If you’re new to the game, let’s talk potential strategies. We might even be able to get a Fish Stripes league going…
Read, Then Watch
If you’re a true-crime fan, this one is for you. Tom Junod, journalist and senior writer for ESPN, wrote about two tragedies that occurred 50 years apart, and the common thread between them. We’ve all pondered existential questions in an attempt to give our lives the purpose we seek or comfort us in times of distress, which is why I think this story is a must-read. Junod’s telling of this death on a ballfield and its connection 50 years into the past was also made into an E:60 special, which you can watch if you have ESPN+. Below is an excerpt from Junod’s article:
“Two people die in this story, one old and one very young. Two people kill in this story too, and one of the killers is also one of the victims. They’re connected. Everything in this story is connected. There is a terrible secret kept and a score settled. There is a crime solved. There is a burden passed down from generation to generation and a burden finally lifted. Everyone who hears the story feels the need to interpret it; so do those unlucky enough to have experienced it. They all become philosophers and theologians; they talk about fate and karma, they talk about the turn of the cosmic wheel and the miracle of peace, and they talk about everything happening for a reason because it’s too hard to imagine it happening for no reason at all.”
Read, Read, Read
If I hit you with all the books on my TBR (to be read) list, it would probably take you a few hours to scroll through. In the interest of time, I’ve picked a few of the baseball books on my list and included them below. The blurb I’ve included come from the publishers’ website, which you can access for more information by clicking below.
If you’ve read any of these, let me know your general thoughts—no spoilers, please! If you have any other books I should check out, send your recommendations my way. (I also love memoirs, thrillers, or anything mental health related, so bonus points if you have any recommendations for these topics, too!)
The Cup of Coffee Club shares the stories of eleven men who played in just a single major league baseball game and how they responded to the heartache of never making it back. Featuring exclusive interviews with each of the players, their insight provides a unique look into the struggles of being a professional ballplayer.
Baseball is a sport of decisions. Some are so small and routine they become the building blocks of the game itself—what pitch to throw or when to swing away. Others are so huge they dictate the future of franchises—when to make a strategic trade for a chance to win now, or when to offer a millions and a multi-year contract for a twenty-eight-year-old star. These decisions have long shaped the behavior of players, managers, and entire franchises. But as those choices have become more complex and data-driven, knowing what’s behind them has become key to understanding the sport. This fascinating, revelatory work explores as never before the essential question: What were they thinking?
[Balukjian] took a single pack of baseball cards from 1986 (the first year he collected cards), opened it, chewed the nearly thirty-year-old gum inside, gagged, and then embarked on a quest to find all the players in the pack. Absurd, maybe, but true. He took this trip solo in the summer of 2015, spanning 11,341 miles through thirty states in forty-eight days.