The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

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

If you build it, they will come. All right, MLB, we’ll pay attention to your random MLB game in the cornfields of Iowa. In a year that’s seen MLB announce cryptocurrency and sketchy media deals and changes to the ball mid-season, we’re also graced with an arbitrary road game for the White Sox and Yankees where the tickets were sold by lottery. And, according to TV reports, the whole shenanigans worked. Looks like we’ve got our crop of news to cover this week, so let’s jump right in.

Cornfield Games

Field of Dreams is one of the more iconic baseball movies. Released in 1989, Field of Dreams was based on a novel by W.P. Kinsella that told the story of a farmer living in the middle of Iowa who receives visions about building a baseball field in the middle of his crops and gets visited by the ghosts of baseball past. I don’t want to be a scrooge, but I’m much more a fan of the current era of baseball, where players can sign their own contracts and aren’t prevented by playing due to the color of their skin and are playing against the best in the world instead of Jim “Farmer” Reynolds who spends the off-season doing plumbing. Trust me, you won’t find that last guy in Baseball Reference, but my point is that the modern game features the most brilliantly talented players of all time. For me — a baseball historian — to watch modern players cosplaying as World War I era baseball players, that just doesn’t get me excited. But that’s just me, and I’m different. Everybody else, they seem to like Field of Dreams, so MLB put on a nostalgia-fest where the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees cosplayed their former teams in a real MLB game.

José Abreu opened up the scoring against brand-new Yankee Andrew Heaney, who has struggled in his first starts for the Bronx Iowa Bombers. Speaking of nostalgia, Heaney became the first pitcher in MLB history to give up four homers in his debut for the Yankees. Now a couple starts removed from that debacle, Heaney hoped to regain a bit of form against the White Sox:

The White Sox led 7-4 going into the 8th inning when the bullpen ran into trouble. Going into the 9th, Aaron Judge homered to score Tyler Wade, followed by a Giancarlo Stanton homer to plate Joey Gallo. Suddenly, the Yankees had taken control of the game. Yet, the Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman has an injured shoulder and is on the IL. So, the Yanks sent out Zack Britton. What happened next is enough to make even my cold heart start to pitter-patter.

Tim Anderson walked off the White Sox to victory in the Field of Dreams game, receiving a huge fireworks show in the background. Congrats, Tim!

Rookie No-No

After a slight interruption, the Year of the No-No continued under unassuming rookie Tyler Gilbert, who was making his first career start! Gilbert was a 6th round draft pick in 2015 and had a largely uninteresting minor league career going into today. In 11 starts at AAA this year, Gilbert had a 5.37 xFIP, but even contact-based pitchers get their lucky days now and then. Gilbert managed his complete game no-no with only 5 Ks and added 3 BB, but his defense managed the other 23 outs. Congrats to Tyler Gilbert!


MLB Alienates Their Base (Again)

In the middle of the week, Major League Baseball announced that they would partner with Barstool Sports to carry some midweek MLB games with the popular site among white male baseball fans. Of course, Barstool is actually a sportsbook as well, which again blurs the line between MLB and its pursual of financial conflicts of interest (see MLB’s launching of a cryptocurrency platform earlier this year). The Pete Rose fans continue to ask, “Where’s the justice?” as MLB keeps signing odd deals with gambling outlets. When I signed on to work at Pitcher List, Nick Pollack told me zoom window-to-zoom window that PL was the “anti-Barstool.” And I’m proud to work here for that fact. Barstool’s owner Dave Portnoy is a well-documented bigot, racist, and misogynist. In fact, the majority of the things he’s been caught saying — on tape and almost always of his own admittance — I can’t post these things here because this is a PG-13 site. That said, I know some very bright baseball minds who managed to make it to 2021 without ever hearing about Barstool Sports. So, if you’re in that demographic of people who have never heard of Barstool, well, now you have. And you can start using your voice to ask MLB to end their proposed relationship with an openly bigoted gambling site whose primary interest is working the “Fred Durst Effect” — doing the worst possible things to entice attention and build an audience.


The Electric Slide

As always, let’s end on a positive note here: awesome slides into home plate. Newly acquired Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner has been earning his keep on the West Coast…or has he? All right, Turner’s been batting .227 since his trade to the Dodgers, which is absolutely not what the Dodgers want out of their leadoff hitter. But Turner still know how to wow a crowd, and this week he gave fans one of the best slides we’ve seen in recent history:

You’ve probably seen it already, but that slide is must-see TV for this week:


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.

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