The 10 greatest baseball stories in 2021, from Shohei Ohtani to Atlanta’s busy 7 months


With all the ugliness in baseball in 2021, from the poor pitching of your favorite team to the ongoing culture war over unwritten rules, at least we had Shohei Ohtani who made us smile. Before this year, baseball had never seen a player like Ohtani, and we may not see talent like the two-way Los Angeles Angels star again.

Ohtani was just one of the most notable stories in America’s national pastime this time around. In fact, so much has happened that it just feels right to do an annual review. All baseball-related events that took place in calendar year 2021 were eligible for this list. That includes the next chapters on topics that started before this year, including the ongoing pandemic.

Taking into account the above requirements, the best players pile up as follows:

10. The official end of the Cleveland Indians

When the Cleveland Chief Wahoo baseball organization dropped in 2018, we knew the Native American name would no longer exist. The social justice movements of 2020 brought change with the Washington Football team finally breaking free from Native American imagery. Next up, of course, were the Indians.

Cleveland announced in advance that the 2021 season would be their final as an Indian. After months of speculation, the organization announced in July that it would change its name to Guardians from 2022. The final hurdle came in November when the franchise settled a lawsuit with a local roller derby team over the Guardians name.

Social media reception has been largely mixed, and former President Donald Trump tore the franchise apart for giving in to public pressure.

“A small group of people with absolutely crazy ideas and guidelines are forcing these changes to destroy our culture and heritage,” Trump said in a press release.

9. The lockout we all expected

There’s not much to say about the lockout, at least not yet. If all parties hadn’t anticipated this, we’d likely put the ongoing work stoppage higher on the list.

At the time of writing, there have been no meaningful or credible updates on when the 2022 season might start. If March comes and baseball is still not in sight, enjoy watching The sopranos for the 22nd time in the last two years.

8. The different paths of the Hall of Fame

Had we made this list in late November, the National Baseball Hall of Fame would likely have deserved an Honorable Mention. There is only so much to say at this point about the trio of Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, and Roger Clemens’ respective Hall cases.

The latest vote added Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for 162 games for performance-enhancing drugs, and Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz. The three-time World Series champion is in a gray area because he failed a drug test in 2003, one year In front the league has created modernized PED penalties.

In early December, however, something remarkable happened. The Veterans Committee has inducted six men into the Hall of Fame, including Negro League legend Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler, the earliest known black player in professional baseball history. These two joined MLB greats Minnie Miñoso, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva and earned their bronze plaques.

The impending inclusion of these six has propelled the Hall of Fame’s place on the list. On the one hand, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America is refusing to come together and accept some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, including Bonds and Clemens, because of performance-enhancing drugs or character problems. However, a committee of former players, executives and media / historians would like to preserve the history of the game by any means necessary.

At the end of the day, the Hall of Fame is a museum. It’s a shame the BBWAA still seems reluctant to accept this fact.

7. Mets owner Steve Cohen loves to tweet and expenditure

Mets fans may disagree with Cohen’s policies (he donated $ 2.25 million in 2015 to the presidential candidacy of then-New Jersey governor Chris Christie and another $ 1 million for Trump’s inauguration) or how often he tweeted, but they certainly appreciate his wallet.

Since the official takeover of the Mets in late 2020, Cohen has spent a lot of money, including extending shortstop Francisco Lindor (10 years for $ 341 million) and signing pitcher Max Scherzer (three years for $ 130 million). He had empathy for the tortured Mets fans and openly criticized the fighting team on Twitter throughout the season.

Cohen, like all of us, tweets way too much for his own good. However, don’t expect Mets fans to hold it against him when a parade takes place at the Canyon of Heroes next fall.

6. The end of the sticky stuff?

In June 2021, Major League Baseball decided that enough wasn’t enough. No, we sadly don’t talk about power outages or stop Alex Rodriguez Sunday night baseball. The league banned pitchers from using foreign substances, including Spider Tack, and introduced new rules to crack down on throwers with an unfair advantage.

Several pitchers, including Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, saw their numbers trending down after the crackdown. The league later suspended Hector Santiago of Seattle and Caleb Smith of Arizona for using “sticky stuff” after the rule change. Even after the MLB gains a foothold, this is worth keeping an eye on in 2022 and beyond.

5. Legal questions from Trevor Bauer

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer’s 2021 season ended in July due to legal issues | Peter Joneleit / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just months into his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, all-star pitcher Trevor Bauer went on paid administrative vacation following allegations of sexual assault. He was not playing in the second half of the season or in the playoffs when the Pasadena police investigated the allegations against him.

The Pasadena Police Department filed their investigation with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office on August 27, according to The Athletic. Major League Baseball is still actively investigating the case. At the time of publication, neither the DA nor the league had announced their respective results. The league can punish Bauer even if no criminal complaint is filed.

Bauer reportedly exercised a $ 32 million player option to return in 2022. It is not yet known if the Dodgers will bring him back or if the team will absorb the financial consequences of his release.

4. Major League Baseball vs. Atlanta

Think of this entry as the first part of a two-part saga. In March Georgia passed the Electoral Integrity Act of 2021, which tightened identification requirements after the 2020 elections. Amid public outrage and President Joe Biden comparing the law to Jim Crow, Major League Baseball moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado.

Political engagement on both sides, from Biden’s frank comment to Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, who later described the Braves’ World Series win as “poetic justice,” drives the entry up our list. The Braves organization, for its part, publicly objected to the move. At the time of writing, Major League Baseball has not yet announced whether or when Atlanta will next host an All-Star game.

3. The Yankees keep spending and falling short

The last time the New York Yankees won a World Series, LeBron James was still in his first appearance with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Tik Tok was nearly seven years away from its creation. Suffice it to say, it’s been a while.

Although the Yankees have entered the 2021 season as the universal favorite to win the AL East and battle for a 28th World Series title, the Yankees lingered at around .500 for the first four months of the campaign. A strong second half (51-29 in their last 80 games) put the Yankees and their $ 201 million payroll as the second wildcard team into the postseason. Rival Red Sox beat Cole and his $ 324 million nine-year deal ahead of schedule on the way to a 6-2 win at Fenway Park.

At this stage of the game, the Yankees are a team ready to spend as much as possible only to keep missing the ultimate goal. In a move that shows how pleased the franchise is, the Yankees managers have kept Aaron Boone and general manager Aaron Boone rather than attempting a restart at all.

2. The Braves are finally ending their drought at the World Series

Welcome to the second chapter of the two-part saga. The Braves ended the game at 5pm-54pm on August 1 and desperately needed a spark. Two months later, Atlanta finished the season 88-73 and celebrated the fourth NL East title in a row.

In an eternal miracle run, Atlanta defeated the Houston Astros in the World Series. Seasoned outfielder Jorge Soler, acquired at close of trading for Kasey Kalich in the minor league, hit 0.300 with three home runs and six RBIs en route to the World Series MVP. Not bad for a team that baseball fans understandably wrote off as dead in July.

1. Shohei Ohtani dominates everything on his way

We could bore you with an essay on Shohei Ohtani’s greatness, but we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. The two-way star hit .257 with 46 home runs, 100 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, and eight triples in 155 games. On the hill, he went 9-2 with 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.

Please, baseball gods, allow Ohtani to stay healthy and enjoy a brilliant 2022 season. Something tells us we’re going to need it, especially if Rodriguez stays on Sunday night baseball.

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RELATED: Red Sox Legend David Ortiz Tears Up New York Yankees’ Cultural Troubles Amid Ex-Rival’s World Series Drought: “You Need New Chemistry”


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