Yesterday’s 15-8 drubbing of the Angels proves it’s always better to win meaningless games than to lose meaningless games.
Better than that, though, is to never forget that these are just meaningless games.
To illustrate that, this story:
In the spring of 2013, the Red Sox brought their next great phenom to major league camp. His name was Jackie Bradley Jr. He was just twenty-two years old, and he was the future of the Boston Red Sox.
Baseball America called him “an on-base machine with quick hands who works deep counts and sprays line drives to all fields.”
Bradley was the guy every other GM coveted, and whom the Red Sox GM would turn down in trades. He was going nowhere.
What a camp he had. In the spring of 2013, Jackie Bradley Jr. batted .409, with an on base percentage of .507. Boston had its next Carl Yastrzemski. Life was good. March had crowned another MVP.
As that spring training camp wound down and the Red Sox brass handed Bradley the every day left field job, it suddenly occurred to them that they didn’t have a Bradley Jr. jersey to sell at the concession stands.
For one week straight before opening day at Fenway, three shifts worked 24-hours a day printing Bradley Jr jerseys in all shapes, sizes and price ranges.
They flew off the shelves.
Then the season started. As it always does. Baseball hit the reset button. As it always does. And reality set in. As it always does.
Jackie Bradley Jr. managed to survive just 37 major league games in 2013. He ended up batting .189 with an on base percentage of .280, three home runs and 10 RBIs. That was in the games that weren’t meaningless. Not the spring games. Which are meaningless.
Last season, in nearly three-times the games, 127 to be exact, Jackie Bradley Jr., whose jersey flew off the shelf just one spring earlier, hit one home run, with 30 RBIs, a .198 batting average and an OBP of .265.
His career was going nowhere.
You can find hundreds of stories like this every spring throughout baseball, and about a dozen this year at Rangers camp alone. March has many MVPs that April can’t validate.
You can probably find a Jackie Bradley Jr. shirt on ebay for about two dollars today.
And you can probably get Jackie Bradley Jr. himself from the Red Sox for not much more. (Never mind the corollary to this story that prospects rarely pan out, so trade them when you can to make your major league team stronger. That is the topic for many other days.)
Last year it was Michael Choice. Who is the Rangers March MVP this year?