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December 2018

Lifer: A Baseball Fan Lifestyle Guide-- Holiday Edition


Welcome back Baseball Lifers to the eighth edition of Lifer by All Heels on Deck! This issue is yet another special edition just in time for the holidays! That’s right, in this edition of Lifer we’ll be focusing on the other “Greatest Time of Year” with exclusive personal features from our team, and even some gift ideas for the other Baseball Lifers in your life, (or for you to treat yourself). As our holiday gift to you, this special edition isn’t just a subscriber exclusive, but available to all readers of All Heels on Deck to enjoy!


What does the Baseball Lifer have on their Christmas wish list? The jersey of the newest addition to your favorite team? A beanie to rep your team on the coldest days? Maybe even a new glove to prep you for the upcoming 2019 season. For Karen Soutar, visiting all 30 ballparks is at the top of her Christmas list. This year, she’ll be able to check yet another ballpark off her list thanks to the perfect holiday gift from her husband!


‘Tis the Season of Giving. The baseball fan lifestyle doesn’t stop during this season, so why not add some items to your wish list in keeping with that lifestyle? I was scrolling through social media not too long ago, and discovered The Gameday Chic, a brand dedicated to gameday lifestyle tees and accessories. Baseball is one of the sports currently featured, and this time of year, merchandise on the site is combining the holidays with the sport we love.


Us baseball "Lifers" try to incorporate baseball in many areas of our lives. Holiday celebrations are no exception. Maybe you hang a Yankee ornament on your tree, or wear an Astros ugly Christmas sweater to your office party. No matter what you’re celebrating this season, you can’t help but add that little touch of baseball…or maybe you add a BIG touch of baseball. Baseball Lifers Helen Silfin and Victoria Edel give you a glimpse of what Hanukah and Christmas (respectively) are like in their homes.


So, join us as we do life the baseball fan way! You don’t want to miss this special edition of Lifer!


~RoseAnn Sapia

'Lifer' Editor



A Very Baseball Christmas

By Karen Soutar


What do you get for the baseball fanatic on your holiday shopping list?  The person who is more interested in life experiences than “stuff”?


How about a trip to see their favourite team on the road? Thanks to the generosity of my husband, that was my (early) Christmas gift this year.


A bit of background information: one of my bucket list items is to see a game in all 30 MLB parks, preferably when my Toronto Blue Jays are playing there. In May 2019, the Jays visit San Francisco to play the Giants at AT&T Park, and I will be at both games cheering them on. It will be the 10th park that I cross off the bucket list!



The ballpark itself looks beautiful, set against the back drop of San Francisco Bay. Any time I visit a new place, I always try to see something different and unique that I’ve never seen before, so I’ll be sure to do a bit of sight-seeing as well.


What a wonderful way to combine the magic of Christmas and the excitement of baseball!


Happy holidays everyone!



A Baseball Lifer’s Wish List

By: RoseAnn Sapia


A Giants beanie. A Brandon Crawford jersey. An AT&T Park throw. All of these things have been given to me these last few Christmases because they have to do with something I love. I’m always looking for cute baseball related merch, and The Gameday Chic has a lot of unique items to choose from. A little lesser known brand, I thought I’d highlight a few “Baseball Christmas” items from the site Baseball Lifers are sure to love.




Do you know someone who’s favorite season is baseball season? Maybe that’s you. The Gameday Chic sells sweatshirts, long sleeved tees, throw pillows, and beanies that read “Baseball Is My Favorite Season”, the perfect gift for baseball fans.




When you’re making your Christmas list, what’s one thing you ask for? If it’s for baseball season to start, The Gameday Chic has you covered. The brand sells sweatshirts, long sleeved tees, mugs, throw pillows, and ornaments with the phrase “All I Want For Christmas Is For Baseball Season To Start”.




What do Santa Claus and Babe Ruth have in common? They both have nicknames, and play a huge role in history. The two people that Christmas loving baseball fans hold in high esteem can now be flaunted together. “Santa Claus, St. Nick, Babe Ruth, Great Bambino” throw pillows, T-shirts, mugs, hoodies, and of course baseball caps can all be found on The Gameday Chic site.




Joy, Love, Peace, Baseball, and Christmas. What more could one ask for? T-shirts, ornaments, and hoodies that list all of these wonderful things are available via The Gameday Chic.




And finally, the “Baseball Christmas Things” tee and beanie are perfect for the Baseball Lifer that loves graphics. Images of a present, Christmas tree, and baseball are front and center.


All apparel is unisex, and most are sized from XS to 3XL. Prices of these featured items range from $15 to $42. More details about these items, including sizes and prices, can be found on The Gameday Chic website.




The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

By Helen Silfin


More often than not, I find myself singing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” not during the holidays, but when pitchers and catchers report or on Opening Day. I love the holiday season, and I love baseball season, and maybe the only bad thing about either season is that they don’t overlap. Even though there has yet to be a baseball game flashing on TV in the background while my family lights our Hanukkah menorahs, the sport still always seems to find a way into the holiday celebrations.


The stereotypical image of a Hanukkah celebration involves a family standing over a single menorah and lighting the candles. While picturesque, this was never the scene in my house. We have always had many menorahs living on our dining room table throughout the holiday - tall, short, fancy, homemade, you name it and we had it. So when I found myself standing in the store trying pick out only a single menorah for my apartment, I had to decide which menorah I wanted in my image. Immediately a baseball-themed one caught my eye - it reminded me of the sports-themed one we had when I was a kid, but it was better Helen Menorahbecause it was only baseball. Now, baseball will be with me for every night of Hanukkah for years to come.


Baseball has also been with me during the holidays through some of my favorite gifts - both given and received. One of the best gifts that I have ever given was a Jerry Grote autographed picture I got for my dad. I also loved giving my brother some of his favorite candy hidden inside a Yankees beanie. For a few years, one of my own Hanukkah presents would always be a subscription to Every Secret Santa gift I got in high school involved something Mets-related, whether it was a blanket or autographed picture or unfortunate-looking Mr. Met stuffed animal. No matter the time of year, baseball is an easy default for me or any member of my family because we all love it.


Helen GB
Helen GB


From decorating gingerbread trains with the Red Sox logo (and said train taking them all the way to the World Series), to spending New Year’s Day at Citi Field (for a sport that is actually played during the holiday season), baseball is always an important part of the holiday season, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.


Christmas With The Mets

By: Victoria Edel


It’s not Christmas without candy canes, gingerbread cookies, Mariah Carey, and the New York Mets. Yeah, OK, technically baseball is a summer sport — in fact, it’s the only of the four major American sports that doesn’t play at Christmas. But don’t tell that to all my Mets Christmas paraphernalia.


The Mets are easy to love at Christmas. The bad stuff — the drudgery of a 1-0 loss after a Jacob DeGrom start — is so far away. Instead I can think about things like my favorite players, my hopes for next year, and the joy the team brings me after a 1-0 win after a Jacob DeGrom start. It’s the season of giving, and I’m giving the Mets the benefit of the doubt.


I’ve also given and received so much Mets stuff during the holidays. My David Wright jersey was a Christmas gift way back in 2005. Last year I got a bright orange All Star cap from my mom. I just bought my friend a new hat for Hanukkah.


And then there’s the actual Mets Christmas stuff. Which I will now list, with photos.




I was not yet born when this Mets 1986 World Series Champion ornament was purchased, but I did used to fight my brothers every year over who got to hang it on the tree. I assume I lost most of the fights, but now my brothers are incredibly lazy during Christmas decorating, so it’s almost always me who gets the honor now.




In my mind, this Mets jersey ornament is a David Wright jersey, though there is no name on the back. I think my mom picked it up at a discount store — the box we store it in says she paid $4. I would’ve paid at least $10.




My brother bought my mom this teeny little Mets snowman ornament when he was in high school. The relation between the snowman and the Mets is unclear, but he’s cute!




This Mr. Met ornament is absolutely adorable. I like that he’s based on a more vintage Mr. Met styling. He has a real youthful joie de vivre. I got this as a gift maybe two years ago, and he is very beloved. Something that annoys me about the Mets is that they brought back Mrs. Met but don’t actually have that much Mrs. Met merch. If the Mets merch gods are reading this, please make me a Mrs. Met ornament.




A fun fact about me is that I am obsessed with nutcrackers. I have around 20. So, when I found this Mets one last year, I bought it without a second thought. It’s bizarre that he’s not a baseball player or umpire or something — he’s just a regular soldier who’s inexplicably in orange and blue. I do not hold this against him.




I bought this David Wright Mets Christmas sweatshirt the first time they sold them. As an established David Wright stan, this is deeply beloved to me, even though it’s a little too small and I’m considering getting a new one in two sizes larger so I can dress as a Mets-themed Ariana Grande.




This is, perhaps, the most loved of these Christmas items, my Mets Santa hat. I found it at 7/11 in 2006 and asked my dad to buy
it for me. He said yes. Last year I couldn’t find it, but when I sat down to write this list, I had a vision of where it might be. It was there. Anyway, they make these for every team, I think, but the Mets one is the best, because it’s the best and it is mine. Also, one time I wore it to watch noted Mets fan Adam Pally do improv and he picked me out of the audience for a bit, so it’s definitely lucky.


Thank you to all of you who have read our baseball fan lifestyle guide since it began this summer! This is the final edition before our month-long winter break, and we look forward to bringing you more in 2019.

Happy Holidays teammates!

Jessica Quiroli

All Heels on Deck Editor in Chief


Blue Jays: A Requiem for Optimism

By Tammy Rainey

A little over a year ago I wrote a post justifying (rationalizing?) my ability to be optimistic about the possibility that the 2018 Blue Jays would bounce back from their off year in 2017. That 2017 team had won 76 games and the task I had set for myself, before any major player moves, was to identify if I could identify reasons to think that they could add 13-15 wins to that outcome.


Now as it happened, of course, the A's inexplicably won 97 games in 2018, so the notion of 90 to be in play for the second wildcard turned out to be asking too much from the jump, but based on the final '17 standings it seemed reasonable.


The context for the original post was that the local media was particularly gloomy about the state of the team. For a sports optimist like myself, 2017 constituted an outlier where a two-time ALCS team had been hit with a bizarre degree of bad luck and would bounce back, but the general consensus was that they team was on borrowed time and no one should be overly hopeful for the season.


In order to make my point, I looked at the WARP totals of several key players as opposed to their history and ability, as well as one position which deserved special mention. Mind you, these were never predictions or even projections via some statistical model - just me reviewing what was reasonably POSSIBLE for a team trying to rebound from a seemingly snakebit season.


I intend, here, to review those discussions, substituting fWAR for the figures but otherwise unrevised, and see how each played out, with some thoughts afterwards.


A note about methodology: The way WAR is calculated, as I understand it, is that one can assume a replacement level team will win about 52 games. Generally, at least in my experience, when you total the WAR accumulated by all the players and you add 52 you should land pretty close to the number of games a team actually won. This played out in 2017 as the Blue Jays WAR total was 20.5 and they won 73 games.


In the matter of Josh Donaldson:

In 2015 JD had won the MVP and in 2016 he contended for the honor again. His fWAR those two seasons was 8.7 and 7.6, playing at least 55 games in each season. In 2017 he missed time due to injury for the first time as a otherwise durable MLB player. Moreover his four year average WAR coming into 2017 was 7.3 annually. His 2017 WAR was 5.1 in what was roughly 3/4 of his usual games played, so I modestly suggested that a pro-rated figure of 6.8 was easy and in a fully healthy season might easily reach 7.1 so I added +2 WAR in my calculations. That was in fact a bit optimistic since it had no built in drop for another year of aging but optimism was the whole point.

As it turns out, he lost most of the 2018 season to different injuries and amassed only a 0.8.


In the matter of Devon Travis:

In 2015 and 2016 Travis played in 163 games combined, getting 670 PA, for all intents one full season of play. He totaled 4.6 WAR in those games. In 2017 he was plagued by injury (again) got only 50 games, and had only 0.7 WAR which would pro-rate to 2.1 in 150 games. But within that 50 games was a very slow start and a very hot finish so I kinda took that as a floor and suggested Devo was capable of exceeding that pro-rated figure, given his previous results, creating the potential for another +2 WAR.

He did, as it turns out, end up staying health all year though he was coddled early on, then demoted when he couldn't get his bat going with irregular playing time. his defense also slipped and in 103 games registered a hideous -0.5

In the matter of Troy Tulowitzki:

Even injury riddled he was at 2.4 in 2015 (128 games played.), and 3.0 in 2016 (131 GP). In 2017, it crashed to 0.1 in only 66 games. It seemed reasonable to put him in the ballpark of the two previous years both in WAR and GP - so I postulated the possibility of an additional +2.5 WAR.

He missed the entire season instead.

In the matter of backup catchers:

I noted that in 2017 that Blue Jays catchers not named Russell Martin combined for a -1 WAR and if we could just get that back to zero we could add another  +1 and as it turned out, Luke Maile actually contributed 1.2 so, sweet right? That's a 2.2. swing from 2017. Of course, Martin dropped 1.3 so the overall total at catcher was just up 0.9 from the previous year but at least I got something right. Ah, but the pitchers...

In the matter of Aaron Sanchez:

This one seemed easy. As a SP with a league leading ERA, 2016 Sanchez accounted for 3.8 WAR. As a blister plagued ghost in 2017, nothing at all. All one had to do was postulate the possibility that Sanchez would be blister free in 2018. I penciled him in for a potential +4 WAR. He was blister free. But he had an ongoing parade of other stuff. In 20 starts his total WAR was 0.7 which even pro-rated doesn't get me half-way home.


So I suggested the possibility of adding 11.5 WAR just on those guys and that would take the team into the 87-88 win range (I mean, I know WAR doesn't really work that way but it's an okay back-of-napkin device) Throw in the (theoretical) upgrade of Diaz and Solarte over Goins and Barney, bringing in Randel Grichuk...why was everyone so gloomy? I could see hope.


But those same players only gave me 2.6 WAR and other things went sideways as well.


Marcus Stroman, who caught the blister bug, dropped 2 WAR off his previous yearly norms. Roberto Osuna was at 2.9 in 2017, he and the man he was eventually traded for after his suspension combined for 0.6 and so these two situation wiped out the modest gains on those offensive predictions and cost me almost another(almost)  2 WAR besides. And the Jays won actually three fewer games in 2018.


So, what does this say about my passion for optimism? Well, I'm certainly not as equipped to make those rosy suggestions regarding 2019 and I wouldn't sincerely believe them if I did. But the meta-question here is what does all this say about stubborn optimism?


I cannot say that every year of my sports fandom has been one met with unrelenting optimism. I do, in general, tend to see more potential than others do but some teams are just bad or, at least, don't have an objective basis for high expectations. Sometimes a team just mildly under-achieves, sometimes a team that should have been good just blows up (looking at you, 2013 Blue Jays) and crushes your expectations. But I would argue that part of the innate reward of being in a sports "tribe" is holding onto that hope for a happy ending.  I honestly can't even relate to fans (and while I assume all teams have many, my emotional reading is that the Blue Jays are particularly afflicted in this regard) who see their fandom through the lens of something to vent frustration about. I have enough real world choices if I'm looking for something than can rightly be bitched about without taking my escapism down that path as well.


It's not just sports either. You've noticed by now that I'm a life-long Star Trek fan and anyone in that "tribe" will tell you that there is nothing so common as the Trek "fan" who's only reason for being is to repeatedly describe in intricate detail why THIS particular Trek is a steaming pile of garbage.


If my fandom, sports or otherwise, consisted of nothing but a year-round observation of Festivus, I wouldn't be a sports fan. Even in a year like the approaching one, in which the Blue Jays are making no pretense of attempting to contend, I'm not going to sit here and assume that Stroman and Sanchez are going to combine for a mere 2.2 WAR again. They might. But per their already demonstrated ability they are capable of over three times as much. For what it's worth, Fangraph's  DC projections have the two combining for 3.8, and the team overall for 30.6 which would play out to an 83 win team. If it came out that way it would be a pretty successful year for a rebuilding team. I can get optimistic about that.


So no, for me, at least when it comes to sports and frankly beyond, optimism is the art of the possible. Realism is the acceptance of the inescapable.


Realism tells me Donald Trump will never stop lying,


Optimism reassures me he's going to get crushed at the polls in 2020 even if he survives that long.


Realism tells me that the Blue Jays are not trying to contend in 2019.


Optimism tells me that they are not so bad that a surprise outcome like the Rays had last year is out of the question.


Long live optimism.