Recently I caught a re-run of The Bucket List, a good movie where two dying people come up with a list of things to do before they die. Conveniently, one (Jack Nicholson’s character) is rich, so they can do just about everything on the list.
So if 2015 was the last baseball season I’d ever see, and I was rich, like Jack Nicholson’s character, which 10 things would I want to see or do? (I’m limiting myself to 10 as I could probably come up with 100 if allowed.)
The list is random. They’re all equal, save for the last two. If I could only do one item on this list, it’s a tie between those two.
1) Witness a save by Aroldis Chapman.
While some would say that Greg Kimbrel is the better closer, there’s something about Chapman that makes me want to see him more. The man has a presence on the mound. If it was allowed, I could see him standing on the mound with a stogie (cigar) in his mouth then rearing back and firing a fastball. And that fastball, what a heater it is. Chapman regularly clocks that pitch in over a 100 miles an hour. Heck, he *averaged* over 100 MPH last year. I want to see that heat in person, see how devastating it is, and see just why this guy has averaged 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings for his career.
2) See a Giancarlo Stanton home run.
Just like Chapman, Stanton has a presence that makes me want to witness him in person. I want to see if he maintains his approach now that he has that contract. I’d also be curious to see if that fastball to the face he received last year makes him flinch on pitches high and inside. Mostly though, I’d be there to witness one of his mammoth homers. I’d stay for an entire series, hoping I’d see one.
3) Watch Yadier Molina take on KC’s speedsters.
The Cards play KC every year due to their rivalry status. KC is loaded with speedsters who will undoubtedly test Yadi’s arm. I want to see him gun them down, re-affirming the fact that he’s the best catcher in baseball, a fact that seems to get lost lately with the obsession that every writer has with pitch framing. Part of that is that everybody knows, at this point, that Yadi is the best, so the writer’s don’t write about him much anymore. Heck, just recently, a writer wrote about the players most essential to their teams, and didn’t mention Yadi, who in addition to being an excellent catcher, is a second pitching coach who makes our starters better. Where would we be without Yadi? He’s about as essential as they come.
4) Visit every baseball park via road trips.
I used to go on baseball road trips when I was younger and I enjoyed them a ton. I’d do something similar, taking my brothers again, or if they’re not available, a blogger or two that I’m friends with. It’s not just about visiting the stadiums obviously, but the thrill of the road, of stopping by cities and towns on the way and sampling food from well know restaurants, as well as seeing a landmark or two. I’d do the trip in a well equipped RV so we didn’t have to stop at various hotels or motels but could do the trip in a straight shot outside of the food and landmark stops. Plus, given that almost all of the multi-purpose, generic stadiums (let the A’s move already, San Fran!) have been replaced, I’ll have quite a few new and nice looking stadiums to see. Also, I’d schedule my trip to see certain stars (Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, etc.) that I haven’t specifically mentioned.
5) Chat with several GM’s. Billy Beane, Mo, Theo Epstein, Brian Sabean among others. Not just chat, but pick their brains and get honest, unveiled responses. I’d sign a confidentiality agreement if necessary.
These are some of the most successful GM’s in the game. In addition to picking their brains about how they’ve managed to be successful in a range of financial environments, I’d also just want to hang out with them and get to know them as people, not as they’re perceived in public. I’d ask how they perceive each other, for example. Which GM’s are they hesitant to trade with, things like that.
6) Catch the opening day Lester vs. Wainwright duel in Chicago wearing as much Cardinal gear as I can fit on my body.
Opening day. The Cubs. Lester vs. Wainwright. Being at Wrigley with all my Cards gear on. Need I say more?
7) Talk to Bill James in person. The man is a legend, and I would love to pick his brain. heck, like above, I’d sign a confidentiality agreement if he asked me to.
Again, this is a “pick his brain as well as get to know him” thing. He’s a legend, and I’d want to hang out with him and talk baseball, sabermetrics, and anything else baseball related. I’d take him to a game (or three) of his choice and hang out and chat with him as we’re watching the games. I’d also want to hear any baseball stories he has to tell.
8) Have dinner with Derrick Goold and Bernie M and talk baseball.
These guys are the experts on Cardinals baseball, reporting on them daily. I want to sit down with them somewhere casual and just chat about the Cards, both past and present. I’m sure they have plenty of stories to tell about the Cards, and I’d love to hear them. I wouldn’t even want inside scoops or anything like that. Mainly I’d just wanna hear their Cards stories. How a player is a certain way, what funny jokes players told them in the past, funny things a player does, things like that. They’ve been around the team long enough to know things like that. They have insight into the players as people, that’s what I want to hear about.
9) Be a GM.
You notice I didn’t say “be a GM for a day.” That’s ceremonial, and wouldn’t actually let me do the job. Pair me with a club president who’ll double check everything I do, that’s fine. But I want to be able to propose trades, find bargain players, conduct a draft, hover over my manager’s shoulder and dictate everything he does, etc, etc, etc. If the instantly hiring me as a GM and pairing me with a club president doesn’t work, I could always use my riches. Using those, I figure I could buy a low percentage (two to five percent) of a team (not necessarily the Cardinals. In fact, probably not, as Mo is very good at his job and well established. I’d go somewhere with either a new GM or a GM in free fall.) with the condition that I could be a senior adviser. Then I’d camp out in the GM’s office, ask him a ton of questions, give unsolicited opinions on trades, promotions and every other kind of move as well as sit in on every phone call to other GM’s (I’d make him use the speakerphone) and drive him nuts in general. Basically I’d be the GM without the official title. Of all the things on this list, becoming a GM is the one thing I probably wouldn’t ever be able to do in real life, which kind of makes me want to do it even more. The impossible dream, if you will.
10) Get my family and all the UCB Bloggers together and take them to a Cardinals series of their choice. If the Cards make the playoffs, take them all to a playoff game as well.
I’m killing two birds with one stone here. I owe quite a bit to my family, my wife for just being awesome, my brothers’ for helping develop my love for baseball, etc. I also owe a lot to the UCB, they’ve really helped me grow as a blogger. While there is an annual bloggers get together in St. Louis, I wanted to do something more. Plus it’d give me a chance to thank everyone as well as enjoy some more games I could never see enough baseball games.
Well there you have it, my 2015 bucket list. As always, thanks for reading.