True Royalty Retires and the 6 Best Things from the Final Day of the Season

Capping off a grand year of Major League Baseball.

Before we get into the Best Things You Missed today, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to my wonderful team of writers who helped make this daily recap column happen, and thank you to Nick Pollack for believing that we should have a celebration of our love for baseball on this site. We Love Baseball has been a fantastic section to manage, and I couldn’t have done it without the incredible guys behind this article series, so thank you to Alex Kleinman, Benjamin Haller, Noah Scott, Asher Dratel, Sean O’Leary, and TC Zencka. And most of all, thank you to all you readers, who love baseball just like us and love celebrating the sport. You all rock.

 

True Royalty Retires

I’m going to start this off by saying I’m not the right person to put Alex Gordon’s career in retrospect. I think only Kansas City Royals fans can truly speak to what Alex Gordon’s career meant. I’m not talking about his career 32.3 fWAR, or his 190 home runs, or even his seven Gold Gloves, which is second-most in franchise history. I’m talking about the impact he has had on this Kansas City organization, from debuting in 2007, to winning a World Series in 2015, to being a veteran leader on this young Royals team. I remember when he was ranked the #2 prospect in baseball in 2007, and he got his chance as the regular 3B and completely flopped, and for a few years everyone thought he was a massive bust. Whether it was just a coincidence he found his bat when he got moved to left field, or because he felt more comfortable there, but his career narrative completely changed in 2011. Moving to left might have saved his career, as he went on a five-year tear, slashing .281/.359/.450, was named to three All-Star teams, and won four Gold Gloves (and probably would have won five if he hadn’t missed two months in 2015 with a groin injury). Alex Gordon is Kansas City, and you can see exactly the kind of respect he’s garnered for what he’s done there in his farewell above. It’s just a shame there were no fans in the stands to say goodbye, but I guarantee they were all watching at home, standing and clapping, for the man they called Gordo.

 

Hunter Pence Gives Gordo a Glimpse at Retirement

Slightly overshadowed by Gordon’s retirement announcement, yesterday was also Hunter Pence’s final day as a major league baseball player. But today was the first day of Pence’s retirement, and he spent the day doing what every Giants fan needs to do at some point, and that’s hanging out in McCovey Cove. At every Giants home game, there are about a dozen or so people hanging out in kayaks in the cove, hoping to catch a home run ball, but today those guys got the coolest ball of them all, as Pence signed autographs for all the fans in the cove. While a lot of Giants fans were disappointed to see their team eliminated on the final day of the season, for these lucky fans, today was the best day of them all.

 

Two Teams Clinch Their Playoff Berth… In the Same Game

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers just needed to win this game, and they would be in the playoffs. If they lost, they would be relying on the San Francisco Giants also losing, as well as needing the Philadelphia Phillies to lose (in Milwaukee’s case). The Phillies got smoked by the Rays, and then the Cardinals bested the Brewers, leaving the Cardinals to celebrate on their home field as they clinched their playoff spot. Milwaukee and their fans watched closely in San Francisco, as the Padres held just a one-run lead going into the 9th. But that lead was enough, and soon the Brewers were taking the field to celebrate as well. I think my favorite touch on all this, is that the St. Louis scoreboard operators put up a “Milwaukee Clinched” graphic for their celebratory photo. You love to see it.

 

Dodgers Try a New Potential Playoff Strategy

The Dodgers are well known for messing around with the lineup card and where players play on the field. In fact, there’s even been a term coined, “Dodger-itis,” to describe all the weird things the Dodgers do with their players that messes with our fantasy teams. Mookie Betts even started a game at second base this season just in case they want to move the four-time Gold Glove outfielder to a different position for some reason. And just in case they do need Betts at second base, they have to ensure they have someone just as good to put in right field too, and so today Kolarek got his audition to be Betts’s understudy in right. We usually talk about position players pitching on this column, but why not a pitcher in the field?

 

Rich Hill Rounds Into Peak Playoff Form

Okay well, maybe not quite peak form. Hill has always relied on deception, so maybe he’s trying to take it to the next level of deceiving the hitters as to whether he’s actually going to throw the ball towards the plate or not.

 

The Pirates Round Into… Some Other Kind of Form

While the Pirates might be the only team in the NL Central to not make the playoffs, that isn’t going to stop them from having the time of their lives. The bullpen decided today to see if any of them have what it takes in bowling, and I got to say, that form is simply impeccable. There’s a real career there for whichever pitcher rolled that beautiful strike.

Myles Nelson

Director of Staff Operations. Creator of the PL Wacky Leagues (Blind Draft, Grand Theft, WorstBall).

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