The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

All the stories you need to follow this week in the MLB.

After spending last week worrying about the mess that the Mets are in, this week we transition to the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame. September is here and many teams have already decided to pack up their things and go home for the rest of the season while other teams are making a rush for the playoffs. We’ll see a lot of highlights in this post as the playoff race heats up!

Hall of Fame Induction

The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted several players this week, most notably the near-unanimous selection of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter is one of the few players in recent MLB history who can be called by just one team and just one position — he played for the Yankees from 1995-2014, winning five World Series rings and taking 14 All-Star nods along the way.

As Jeter has long been the attention of the media eye — and is still at the point of attention in his current role as CEO and joint owner of the Miami Marlins — we’ll enjoy the over-looked supporter that Jeter had in the audience: his nephew, who has been famous for the “hat tip” meme on the internet for years.

Meanwhile, Larry Walker — best known for his time in Colorado — joined Jeter in the Hall of Fame after years of struggling to get enough votes to enter. Walker was always a good hitter but never considered as an enduring threat, especially in the era of steroid-driven home runs. Walker did hit 49 homers in 1997, but his accomplishment would pale in comparison to the multiple 60+ and 70+ home run years that followed shortly thereafter.

Even after 17 years in the majors — most of them batting in the thin air of Denver — Walker never topped the vaunted 400 homer threshold that many Hall of Fame voters consider to be the standard for consideration. Walker was instead a master of batting average — leading the NL three times in his career — and on-base percentage, which he lead the NL two times in his career.

Walker was also a respected defensive arm, managing to assist in nearly 150 outs in his career as a right fielder. On his hall of fame induction day, Walker captured the media’s attention with his love of the kids’ cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants. Walker wore a button featuring Spongebob, and his NASCAR-style jacket featuring the beloved yellow sponge is now enshrined in the hall.

The late Marvin Miller was also elected to the Hall of Fame, although the induction was against his wishes that he stated in life. Miller was the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association when Curt Flood challenged the Reserve Clause. The Reserve Clause had been in place in Major League Baseball for nearly 100 years and stated that clubs owned the rights to players’ labor, and it had been upheld by the Supreme Court previously.

Although Flood’s case was similarly upheld by the Supreme Court in Major League Baseball, the Court indicated that MLB should change their labor practices. Miller helped usher in free agency and arbitration, which made the MLBPA one of the more powerful unions in the United States. However, Curt Flood remains absent from the Hall of Fame, largely because he chose to fight for the labor of others rather than focus on his own labor.

Mr. Burnes Says “No”

A late edit to the post: The Milwaukee Brewers’ ace Corbin Burnes took it most of the way, and Josh Hader finished it: the record-breaking ninth no-hitter of the 2021 season!

Growing the Game

The Chicago White Sox were graced with a young fan in the stands who was an absolute student of reliever Craig Kimbrel. From the pre-flight motion to the windup to the pitch, this young man is ready for his major league debut:

Mouthy Moments

Toronto Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray made news earlier this week when he debuted a shirt poking fun at his remarkably tight pants. On Friday night, Ray made news again when he exchanged words with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde.

Ray, who has 11 wins on the year — about 25% of the Orioles’ team wins on the year — more or less remained cool while the Orioles manager spit obscenities that were caught on the field mic and broadcast across to America. Rumors swirled that Ray might have been accusing the Orioles of somehow stealing signs because Orioles batters weren’t swinging at his slider. Statcast data might disprove that because Orioles batters did indeed swing at 50% of Ray’s sliders, so maybe there was some sort of misunderstanding.

Or maybe Brandon Hyde was just upset about managing his team to one of the worst records in the majors. The clip below features some very foul language and is Not Safe for Work.

All right, friends! Let me know what you’re reading down in the comments. Be a beacon of loving-kindness for yourself and the world right now, and we’ll check in next week. Enjoy the playoff race!

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Blair Williams

Blair holds a PhD in Japanese history and is the author of "Making Japan's National Game: A Cultural History of Baseball." He's a fan of sci-fi, prog metal, and sipping rums.

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