The 2023 Major League Baseball regular season is soon to reach its conclusion, stirring or otherwise. That means it's time for lots of things more pressing and vital than a brief and half-cocked run down of the superlative moments of the 2023 season.*
*-Roundly unimportant moments only.
Powered by apathy and fewer than 13 hours of sleep, let us begin.
Best excuse: Yusei Kikuchi, Blue Jays
There are naps, there is a good-night's sleep, and then there is the Ocean-Deep Slumber of Ancient Kings That Masquerades as Death Itself. In such instances, not even the deafening booms of enemy ordnance can rouse the bed-rotter of note. Rather, he sleeps until his own pent-up flatulence landslides about, rattles the shutters, cracks the foundation that ranged weaponry could not, and drops him from cozy-comfy sepulcher to cold hardwood floor in a rejuvenated heap.
This brings us to baseball's leading practitioner of the Ocean-Deep Slumber of Ancient Kings That Masquerades as Death Itself and the honoree for Best Excuse. That would be Blue Jays moundsman Yusei Kikuchi. Please doze off while reading the following dispatch:
#BlueJays starter Yusei Kikuchi thinks he’ll be fine for his next start after he left the game with cramps. The biggest revelation was that he said it may have been caused by only getting 11 (!) hours of sleep last night instead of his usual 13 or 14 hours (!!)— Kaitlyn McGrath (@kaitlyncmcgrath) September 20, 2023
Eleven mere hours of sawed logs? Only at the dreadful expense of basic personal wellness. Give that man his 13 hours or report directly to hell, where you may find him sleeping because it's usually much quieter there than in heaven.
All available hosannas go out to Mr. Kikuchi and his heavily used pajamas. Let us assume in unison that his uniform number is his sleep number.
Best blending of analytics and traditional baseball methods: Willi Castro, Twins
The modern professional baseball-ist must achieve an elusive equilibrium between his sporting instincts, both instinctual and lovingly honed, and the ferocious mandates of khaki-ed weenies. No one has struck a better balance than Twins fly-catcher Willi Castro. Please observe the forthcoming action-sports highlight and note that with one hand he satisfies prevailing front-office protocols while with the other, gloved hand he Tends to Business:
Yes, this occurred in the seventh inning, which functions as the denouement when the score is 6-0. That raises the troubling possibility that Mr. Castro was actually surveying a takeout menu. However, we shall resist such interpretations and instead nod in agreement that Mr. Castro was holding a hot-off-the-Xerox-machine defensive schematic that tells him what he already knew, the effective purpose of which was to make his assigned tasks and duties more difficult.
Every meeting could have been an email, he whispers to himself as he makes a miracle snare.
Best lack of context: Oakland Athletics
You, a knave, assumes that every benchmark denotes sky-scraping achievement. In reality, a benchmark marks a bench, and that bench may be located where not even eagles dare, yes, but it may also be located in an open sewer that sludge-flows under a black-market uranium-enrichment facility. Ahem:
Indeed, Mark Kotsay earlier this season clocked his 100th win as A's skipper, the "flagellant's instrument of penance" among major-league managerial jobs. The lack of context is at once jarring and eminently understandable. Yes, Kotsay got to 100 wins on Sept. 1 of this year, but two days prior he registered his 197th loss with the A's. He'd notched career loss No. 100 a full 338 days before win No. 100 came along. At this writing, Kotsay has a career mark of 108-210. Framed another way, Kotsay in less than two full seasons already ranks 49th all-time among managers for most games below .500. Congrats!
None of this, of course, is Kotsay's fault. Rather, it's the residue of a calculated effort on the part of owner/saboteur John Fisher to destroy baseball in Oakland. Congrats again!
As for Kotsay, here's hoping the checks are still clearing.
Worst gift: Oakland A's
So long as the A's are the matter at hand, let us drink deeply of their recent gift to future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, who's being feted around the league during his final season:
On the one hand, it's somewhat familiar and comforting that the team that can't be bothered to do much of anything at all gifted Cabrera a bottle of wine. It's a gift that smacks of forgetting to buy a gift at all and grabbing some vin ordinaire that was paper-weighting bounced payroll checks in Kotsay's office. It was last minute, and it was either that bottle of wine or an autographed sheaf of copier paper.
But wait – There's more (or less, actually):
It's hardly surprising that Jason Heyward is a more generous hail-fellow-well-met than anyone with access to the A's coffers, but the scale of the mismatch is something to behold. Because of this, the writer has landed on the following assumption and is not going to fact-check it for fear that it will turn out not to be true: Someone presently on the A's roster was with the Dodgers on Opening Day, and that explains why the bottle of wine the A's presented to Cabrera was purchased by Jason Heyward.
How do we know this is the case? Ipso facto and quod erat demonstrandum, that's how.
Best ad placement: Fernando Tatis Jr. and Law Tigers
Take it away, Law Tigers:
You'll recall Fernando Tatis Jr., pictured above in tantalizing proximity to some Law Tigers paid advertising, broke his wrist in a December 2021 motorcycle accident. When it comes to unwitting product endorsements, Law Tigers will pounce upon such an opportunity like an actual, non-bar-admitted tiger will pounce upon a member of the moneyed class who departs the safety of the enclosed safari vehicle in the service of a better selfie. Perhaps that tiger will later pay for his crimes via canned hunt at a West Texas endangered-game trophy lodge, but for now he'll enjoy this blood-soaked dub.
As for Law Tigers – those jungle cats capable of soaring courtroom oratory — you'll either do business with them or they'll do business with you.