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Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It

by Nick Vitrano

Holy off-season, Batman!  This MLB “winter” has been one of the enjoyable that I can remember.  From incredible trades to blockbuster deals to the mere headlines, there has been no shortage of drama and controversy.  This is about the time that analysts begin to compile their lists, their assertions of the best and worst: the top 10 winners, top 10 losers, and top 10 middle-of-the-roaders. 

Unlike some sports “purists,” I don’t mind lists.  I think lists stand as a representation of all that is fun about sports.  They are conversation pieces, catalysts for debate and argument, and to me, an individual’s lists (no matter the subject) is a window into his fandom – how he thinks, what he values.  Is he a player guy?  A management guy?  A paper analyst or is it all about results? 

The only downside to lists, as I see it, is that generally we fail to revisit the off-season list during the course of the real action.  The explanation for this phenomenon is quite simple: we avoid it because it’s usually embarrassing! 

When it comes to sports, it’s not often that one hits the nail squarely on the head.  There are, of course, varying degrees of right and wrong for many scenarios, but, for the most part, the “I told you so” moments are significantly fewer in number than the instances of “oops, yeah...about that.”  So as we analyze the winter winners and losers, make a mental note of the authors of each list.  The good ones won’t mind being called out down the road.

I haven’t done a best/worst list, but my list of “most puzzling” moves is off to a solid start, headlined by the Milwaukee Brewers’ latest trade: Nori Aoki to the Royals for Will Smith.  What is it about athletes and entertainers?  Athletes always want to be entertainers - Hollywood always wants in on sports.  I don’t know, maybe I’ll be wrong (it happens a lot), but to take a chance on a 45-year-old actor/musician vs. just paying a proven lead-off commodity?  Plus, Smith was always more of a hoopster, chill’ out - maxin’ - relaxin’ all cool – and all shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school.  Kinda risky, Milwaukee: