The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

All the stories you need to follow this week in the MLB.

The trade deadline is coming up and we’re seeing moves across the league already! And speaking of trading, the Clevelanders unveiled their new name for the future, which received mixed reactions throughout the league. Meanwhile, there was a brief retirement from baseball by one of the game’s bright young stars, who quickly returned like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Let’s check out the top news of the week!


The Cleveland Guardians


After much debate over a new moniker, the Cleveland baseball team decided to forego the much-supported “Cleveland Spiders” nickname and instead go with the Cleveland Guardians for the next generation. So in 2021, you’ll see the likes of Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber becoming the Guardians of the Galaxy Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s unknown at the time of publishing why the Cleveland baseball team didn’t go with “Spiders” — the name of a former team in the Cleveland area that pre-dated the current “Indians” franchise — although many local Cleveland-ites have pointed out that the moniker “Guardians” is meaningful to the locals. The “Guardians” refer to the art deco statues that “guard” traffic, which apparently is a necessity around that area.


Many people were more put off by the first displays of the logos of the Cleveland Guardians, which seemed to be either completely the same as the current non-Chief Wahoo graphics, or somewhat confusing in style.

Of course, in a MLB system where many teams are named after socks or migratory birds or fish, the Cleveland Guardians will fit right in with teams that chose to use mascots not rooted in racism. As New Era Apparel proved repeatedly throughout 2021, graphic design for teams can be a tough genre to work in. Hey, if red and white “Sox” can be made fashionable, surely a great designer will come in and help the Guardians find their true colors. Welcome to the MLB, Cleveland Guardians!


Trade Deadline!


The 2021 trade deadline is coming up next week, and we’ll see a flurry of activity as many teams fix their rosters for the first full-season playoff run since 2019. A couple of big names have already moved: Nelson Cruz and Rich Hill. Surprisingly, each of these trades involves the Tampa Bay Rays, who played the odd role of a buyer and a seller this week. First, Nelson Cruz moved from the Minnesota Twins to the Rays, and the Rays returned pitching prospects Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman to the Twins. Cruz is nearing the end of his career, but he has still managed to put up a big bat and will slot into the DH role on the Rays. Upon leaving the Twins, the Twins’ first baseman Miguel Sano paid tribute to his now-former teammate Cruz by … wearing his pants during the game.

Meanwhile, veteran starter Rich Hill moved from the Rays to the Mets, and the Rays received pitcher Tommy Hunter (who hasn’t pitched in two months due to injury) and catcher Matt Dyer in return. Whereas the Cruz addition seemed to be bolstering the Rays’ middling offense, the movement of Hill seemed more geared towards clearing a path to innings for other starters. However, the famed Rays’ rotation of yore is no longer. Remember that Tyler Glasnow suffered a partially torn UCL about a month ago, meaning that the Rays were down an ace, and now they’ve traded away a veteran with playoff experience from their starting rotation. Currently, the Rays’ rotation features Ryan Yarbrough as the SP1, backed up by a number of players who have little MLB experience (and Michael Wacha). Surely we’ll hear more trades next week, but for now, the Rays are the team to watch toward the end of the trade deadline.


The Yerminator Rises Again 


Sometimes, you just have bad days. Sometimes, you want to walk away from everything and never look book. Unfortunately for Yermin Mercedes, he just happened to have his phone by him when he was having a bad day, and he told the world that he was retiring. After a blistering April where Mercedes slugged about .650, he struggled after hitting a homer off of Twins’ “pitcher” Willians Astudillo, who was throwing sub-50 mph meatballs up to the White Sox batters during a blowout. White Sox manager Tony La Russa criticized Mercedes publicly, and then approved when Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey intentionally threw at Mercedes the next game. Mercedes struggled mightily after that incident, and was demoted to the minors again, a place he had spent years in while trying to carve out a spot on a Major League roster. Although Mercedes was batting .300 in the minors, La Russa and the White Sox management clearly had no interest in promoting Mercedes, and the 28-year old decided to retire from baseball. Yet, by the next day, Mercedes announced that he would be like a phoenix and return from the ashes, and he reported to his assignment in the minor leagues. Perhaps with the trade deadline looming, the White Sox will move Yermin to a team that actually wants a power-hitter, instead of keeping one of their most talented players in the minor leagues because they don’t approve of his style of play.

All right, friends! Let me know what you’re reading down in the comments. Be a beacon of loving-kindness for yourself and the world right now, and we’ll check in next week. Enjoy the second half of the season!


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Blair Williams

Blair holds a PhD in Japanese history and is the author of "Making Japan's National Game: A Cultural History of Baseball." He's a fan of sci-fi, prog metal, and sipping rums.

2 responses to “The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week”

  1. J.C. Mosier says:

    Well done, Blair. Thank you. And, since you asked what I’m reading: Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles with my 11-year-old. Good stuff!

    • Blair Williams says:

      Thanks so much for the support, J.C.! I’ll have to check them out myself for my budding 8-year old reader!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login