Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index -- a bi-weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players/baseball entities are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one's presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players/living baseball phenomena listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book. To this edition's honorees/dishonorees ...
Consider the foul-hit baseball from the standpoint of the batsman. It is neither a job well done nor a mission come to grief. Rather, it is a denizen of that amorphous territory in between success and failure, where things like a liberal-arts degree, microwaved fish, and the gender-reveal suitcase nuke reside.
As a general principle of this space, we praise those who survey their assigned tasks and duties and instead of satisfying them, unplug the means of production from the wall outlet and instead dispatch municipal electricity to a wholesome and restorative video-game console. However, this – i.e., the foul ball – is not that. Hitting a foul ball requires effort and even grunts from deep within the kingdom Animalia. It requires perhaps as much effort and as loud a grunt as is demanded by a ringing double off a distant outfield wall. The phenomenon of the foul ball, from the standpoint of work-life balance, is a mixed bag. Periodic failure is welcome because it can serve to lower workplace standards, but, as noted, it still requires some level of toil.
What is unreservedly good about the foul ball is that is presents the game-goer with the opportunity to retrieve the foul-hit baseball. No, not all such struck baseballs find their way into the seating bowl of a stadium that is ideally shaped like a fluted gelatin mold. However, many do. The mere prospect of such free souveniring is enough to make the people rise from their seats, stomp their big boots, raise their fists to a heaven that probably hates them, and shout unifying slogans. In this vital way, the foul-ballist – i.e., those who hit foul balls – is the original, living, breathing, sentient t-shirt cannon and should be praised as such.
Let us do that now. What follows is a recent list of the leading foul-ballists of the 2023 season:
Well, would you look at that. This season, Messrs. Bo Bichette and Bryson Stott have wallowed in the haze between achievement and dereliction more often than anyone else. For that they are to be benignly nodded at. They earn their hosannas for, one presumes, putting more foul balls into the slavering maws of paying customers more often than anyone else in This, Our Baseball. As legacies go, it is a legacy. Ring the bell, indeed.
So does this leaderboard still hold given that it was, at this writing, from a few days prior? Who knows. The question suggests you have mistaken this writer for someone willing to go to a certain effort, someone who is here to help – someone like Bryson Stott or Bo Bichette, for instance, and his generous faculty for hitting baseballs into the seats. This writer, however, is here merely to point you in the general direction of someone who might be able to help – someone like Bryson Stott or Bo Bichette, for instance, and his generous faculty for hitting baseballs into the seats. Bless those living, breathing, sentient t-shirt cannons.
The National League East Anagram Standings
In the interest of advancing the word count of this piece and in the general interest of advancing barely trying as a first virtue, the author is continuing a six-part SPI sub-series in which he ranks teams in each division based on the anagram that he's bothered to figure for each team's name. For the uninitiated, an anagram is formed when you take the letters of a word or words and form other words with them. So: These are divisional standings – or Rankings of Power – based on team-name anagrams. Why is this being done? Look, if the exercise itself hardly matters, then the same goes for its purpose and origins.
We began with the AL East version of this, and then came the much stronger AL Central installment. Last time out, the AL West was subjected to this indignity. Now it appears it's time for us to meander into the senior circuit with the National League East Anagram Standings. That's what this is:
- Mr. Mini Salami
- My Town Reeks
- Wanna Slingshot Into A …?
- A Pallid, Hellish Hippie
- A Bear's Naval Tat
The toughest loop yet? The AL Central might want to have a word, but the NL East appears to be an anagram gauntlet. "Mr. Mini Salami" earns first-place laurels, but "My Town Reeks," the rich-with-implications "Wanna Slingshot Into A …?", and "A Pallid, Hellish Hippie" are all worthies and are strongly in contention for anagram wild-card spots. Only in this remorseless circuit could "A Bear's Naval Tat" place last.
What has this been? People, this has been even less than it seems, which is rather very little.