Essential BtB: Our best from 2018

2018 has just about come to an end, and we wanted to share our favorite posts from the year with you. These are Essential BtB.

Perhaps you are a newer reader, or you might have missed some of these posts from along the way, but the four who have been here all year — Dan Federico, Khurram Kalim, Jonathan Powell and Brent Sirvio — picked what we felt were the very best of the work published on BtB. (Sorry, James; we hope to have you in the mix next year!)

If there’s a piece you liked, let us know! Comment below, or tweet us with #EssentialBtB.

Thanks for a most-promising 2018. We’re really excited for what the next year has in store. Cheers!

Dan Federico

Where do the Yankees go from here?

There is no joy in Yankeeville. Not until the Bronx Bombers are fitted for rings. Dan’s review of the 2018 Yankees encapsulates two theoretical recaps from the optimistic and the pessimistic fan. The thing is, the former is much more theoretical than the latter. A 100-win season ended a round earlier than the last, at the bats of the most-hated rival, who themselves brought a championship home—their fourth in fifteen years. The Yankees have one in that time. Dan’s right: a lot of good happened this year in the Bronx. But the pressure to catch up is mounting. As Dan wrote, it’s championship or bust, year in and year out. How many more of these title-less postmortems can the pinstripe faithful stomach?

From Trenton to the Bronx: Jonathan Loaisiga’s journey to the Yankees – Danny has been grinding on the Yankees beat for years and his depth of insight into the organization from the parent club down through the farm is nothing short of extraordinary. He’s exceptionally well-connected and is now beginning to get the recognition and credit he richly deserves. This piece, turned around on short notice, but telegraphed in the weeks and days leading up to Loaisiga’s call to The Show, puts on display all of those things that make him a must-read for Yankees fans.

Khurram Kalim

A Night with the Future Ghosts of Yankee Stadium – When Khurram wants to write pieces like this, we generally just let him loose and do his thing. Then, Danny, Powell and I read his work amd are terrified to edit anything for fear of messing with an artist’s masterpiece. He’s a Mets guy writing here about the team in the other borough, yet, where there could have been potshots, instead is a gorgeous moment of professional distance and pure baseball appreciation by way of metaphysical musing. Oh, and it’s just a perfect snapshot of a summer night the Bronx.

David Wright, our captain, and nothing less – Just a gorgeous coda on the career that was, and the career that might have been, for David Wright, the Mets and their fanbase.

Jonathan Powell

Christian Yelich is major boon to Brewers current, future outfieldWhen the Marlins decided to break up an exceptionally talented outfield, Christian Yelich was the guy we all wanted on our teams around the BtB writer’s room. That’s not a knock on Marcell Ozuna or Giancarlo Stanton: Yelich seemed underrated compared to Ozuna and especially Stanton, but the evidence of a big season was there. That whole outfield had MVP potential, and Yelich was a leap candidate. Jonathan saw it, and re-reading this piece after Yelich’s MVP season is a touch eerie. There’s a lot of data in here—good data that Powell correctly predicted pointed to a high-value acquisition with breakthrough potential. In January, we thought he would be great for the Brewers, and the Brewers would be great, too. He was, and so were they.

Milwaukee Brewers have a black hole at second base – Kalim already claimed dibs on the Yelich piece — Powell and I were high-fiving through our phones pretty much all night when Stearns landed Yeli and Cain — but I’m completely serious when I say that, if you’re not reading Powell’s Brewers work, you’re missing out on one of the most intelligent Brewers baseball writers on the Internet. I’ve closely followed and covered the Brewers for a total of 18 years and counting; when I get to edit Jonathan’s work, he’s always bringing insight I hadn’t seen before. This piece was right on the pulse of where the Brewers beat was, and even covered angles well ahead of major media. If you’re wondering why second base is still open here at year’s end, you should absolutely revisit it.

Brent Sirvio

Welcome to the new age of Milwaukee Brewers baseball

What does it feel like when one, anomalous magical night happens to a fanbase that’s accustomed to futility? You start seeing mountaintops. That’s the journey here, written while ensnared by the euphoria and absolution of a Brewers’ division title. What’s so great about this piece is that the dreamer is on display: the division title is just the start, not only to a great October but to a great future. Maybe 2018 didn’t reach the tip of the mountaintop, but optimism reigns. It’s a new age; let’s go climb some hills.

Catch: An essential parenting toolCatch is generationally cyclical. Baseball in its totality is the shared national pastime, but catch is a personal inheritance: you might learn more about the game from watching it, but catch comes to you in generational cycles. You were taught it, you will eventually teach it. The simplicity of catch–a lot of us learn it at first without gloves, just a ball–is what makes it so fundamental. It’s a slice of a complex, gear-dependent sport that is just about everyone’s introduction to it. When you read about someone learning to play catch, you’re reading the start of their lifelong baseball love. You’re also reading the history of the teacher, one toss at a time. What I loved about this piece from Brent, wherein he introduces catch to his two little girls, is the poetic mirroring of the Sirvio catch custom: a man, taught to play catch by a woman when he was a boy, is in turn teaching catch to two girls who will one day be women. Catch is cyclical.

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