The book and film Moneyball presents a sharp dichotomy between traditional, grizzled, old-school baseball lifers vs. new-age, analytics-driven math whizzes straight out of the Ivy League or MBA programs. This contrast can also be seen in how we write and think about baseball. When we tell the story of baseball, do we frame our writing around narratives, entertaining yarns, and emotions or around numbers, hard data, and logic?

The Baseball Prospectus Annual attempts to do both. In an opening essay of the 2021 Annual titled “Statistical Introduction,” Bryan Grosnick writes:

“Sports are, fundamentally, a blend of athletic endeavor and storytelling…

Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove threw a no hitter last Friday, notable for lots of reasons: Musgrove grew up in the San Diego area, he is in his first season with his hometown team, and the ability to pitch all 9 innings is becoming increasingly a rare feat.

What stood out to me (besides having Musgrove on one of my fantasy teams) is the number of ex-Pirates pitchers who have excelled after leaving Pittsburgh, so I wanted to do some digging into those very best ex-Bucs who are thriving elsewhere.

(1) Gerrit Cole, Yankees

Besides the mythical exploits of Randy Arozarena, one of the lasting images from last year’s World Series was Kevin Cash’s early removal of Blake Snell despite Snell dominating on the mound with a pitch count only in the 70s.

The trend continues this year as ace Jacob DeGrom was pulled in the Mets’ first game of the season against the Phillies after 6 innings of dominance:

“To the Phillies’ delight, Mets manager Luis Rojas removed deGrom after six innings and 77 pitches. Rojas said he wanted to be cautious because deGrom had not pitched in 10 days, a result…

We are one week into the 2021 MLB season, and one of the top storylines has been the growing legend of Akil Baddoo of the Detroit Tigers, who was claimed in December from the the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Check out Baddoo’s unheralded transaction log of his career so far:

In episode 1677 of the podcast Effectively Wild, Ben Lindbergh brought up the Japanese nickname for Shohei Ohtani:

“Ohtani in Japan is…referred to as nito-ryu, the two-sword, samurai fighting style, the term for a two-way player there….It’s an advanced fighting style.”

This podcast emerged after Ohtani’s electrifying performance on Sunday night both pitching and hitting, in which he displayed superhuman skills with a scary ending (alas, it appears Ohtani eluded serious injury from Jose Abreu’s slide, avoiding a potentially tragic fall akin to Icarus). …

Oakland A’s vs. Chicago White Sox. Opening Day 2021.

“Zen pretty much comes down to three things — everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.” — Jane Hirshfield

Ever since the pandemic started, it has become increasingly difficult to pay attention in an undivided way. We have Twitter doomscrolling, constant social media notifications and updates, phones on us at all times waiting to be checked. The art of single-focused concentration has become more and more elusive. Yet, we often seek ways to increase our mindfulness, focus, and productivity devoid of the distractions of technology.

Zen Buddhism teaches us to focus on the present moment. …

It all started so promising, so astonishing, in Sunday’s primetime game of the Angels vs the White Sox. Shohei Ohtani at last was hitting and pitching in the same MLB game, a fulfillment of his tantalizing potential unlike any other player in the game. He was the first starting pitcher to bat second in a game since the early 1900s.

Ohtani’s 450-feet home run in the first inning was majestic, a symbolic exclamation point of his intention to dazzle and dominate unlike any modern player:

He followed that up with incredible stuff on the mound, easily throwing 100+ mile…

Is there a better day of the year than Opening Day? It’s got to be right near the top, if not the very best day if you are a baseball fan. Christmas is awesome, maybe you’re a Halloween lover, the Super Bowl is a spectacle, those first days of March Madness are pretty epic, and 4th of July is that summer celebration. However, I think I would take Opening Day at the top.

Especially this year.

Last year was filled with so much uncertainty about the unknown caused by the pandemic. COVID abruptly put an end to any springtime hopes…

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

If you want to write about baseball for The Dugout, please send me a message at or @mfsunderland4 on Twitter, and I will add you as a writer.

Anything baseball-related is welcome. Here are some ideas for stories that would be a good fit for The Dugout:

  • Baseball and philosophy: We will write articles that read baseball symbolically and metaphorically and connect to the deeper lessons and themes of the game that extends beyond the diamond into our daily lives.
  • Baseball and fantasy: Taking a more pragmatic approach, The Dugout will also delve into the world of fantasy baseball: game theory, strategy, and player advice.
  • Baseball and storytelling: Stories make up the heart of the game, and we will include stories on intriguing players, events, and occurrences that make up this (hopefully)162-game marathon and beyond.
  • Baseball and statistics: Numbers, graphs, charts, and analysis.

Photo by Rachel Xiao from Pexels

In college, a group of my friends and I came up with the concept of The Dugout right around springtime. Basically, the idea was us sitting around watching and discussing baseball, but it was so much more than that. It was more of a symbolic idea, a beacon of light from a long, snow-ridden winter.

Baseball is a symbol of spring, rejuvenation, and eternal hope. It is a game with a rhythm outside the confines of a clock or set quarters or minutes. In a world becoming increasingly technology-dependent and technology-addicted, baseball can be a pastoral retreat that combines both…

Michael Sunderland

Oakland, CA. Teaching, learning, sports, and storytelling.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store