The Sports Kid Column: The Best and Worst of the 2016 Baseball Season


Bobby Wagner, Managing Editor

It is the best time of year. It is the worst time of year. It is the age of joy. It is the age of anguish. The baseball regular season is over, and the playoffs — for those fans fortunate enough to have a team in the mix still — are both an ultralight beam of joy and a flying ball of machetes and clowns and scorpions and other scary things all packed into one. Baseball? Horrifying and beautiful to watch.

But, instead of trying to make sense of the playoff picture or predicting who’s going to take home some hardware at the end of the year, I want to get a little nostalgic and remember a time when I still had hope the Mets would turn this slow death grind of a season around. Here are the three best and worst things that happened in the 2016 MLB season. We’ll start with the worst, because like Noah Syndergaard put so poignantly, baseball has the tendency to annihilate your heart and then give you the faintest reason to hold out hope at the end.


  1. The tragic, incomprehensible loss of Jose Fernandez.

Tragedy of this magnitude transcends sports. There is nothing to say that has not already been said in a much more beautiful manner by his teammates, friends and family. But I will offer this: Jose Fernandez played the game of baseball with a passion so childlike and so honest. He was at the peak of his profession from the moment he entered it. He never shrunk from any stage he found himself on. And, in the most Sinatra fashion, he did it his way — and his way was objectively better than everybody else’s. He will be sorely missed by those of us who can still look within and see the kid kicking dirt at shortstop and smiling at his parents when he struck someone out in Little League. Rest in peace.

  1. Matt Harvey being shut down for the year.

There’s been so much disrespect from Mets fans to Matt Harvey this year. Matt Harvey is arrogant. Matt Harvey is reclusive from the media at times. Matt Harvey almost certainly parties too much. He’s also the pitcher that — when the Mets were floundering and tossing out Pedro Feliciano in critical situations — gave fans something to get really, really excited over every five days. Harvey getting shut down for the season with the bizarre Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was the beginning of the formation of a rain cloud that damned this whole season for the Amazin’s. I can’t wait to have him back, and I can’t wait to watch him scream his way off the mound after batters helpless waive their way to strikeouts.


  1. Vin Scully retiring.

I would venture to guess that, if you’re reading this, you haven’t done anything in your life for as long as Vin Scully has been announcing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I hope some day, somewhere, someone describes me as mattering as much to them as Vin Scully mattered to the Dodgers organization and baseball in general. The phrase living legend gets thrown around too much, but for Vin, you’d never, ever describe him as anything less.


  1. Ichiro’s 3,000th hit.

Once upon a time, there was a magical baseball player who could hit the ball to any part of the field he wanted to at any time. People in the United States heard mythical, Paul Bunyan-esque stories of him. He’d get a step of a head start in the box, and he’d effortlessly wave his hands through the strike zone and never miss.

Wait, this was real. Ichiro is a wizard, and he’s been a pleasure to watch for the last decade and a half. I wish so passionately that he had his entire career in the majors, because he’s the exact type of guy I want to have the hit record.

  1. Bartolo Colon’s first career home run.

This doesn’t need much explanation, but here’s something: when I get sad, I do one of two things. I either go to the park and sit outside the dog park and hope to meet a beautiful husky who would rather come home with me than their owner, or I watch Colon’s home run and the subsequent call from Gary Cohen.

  1. The Punch.

Sports are, often, meaningless. Too often they are plagued with corruption and over-intensity. But every once in a blue moon, that intensity and that testosterone produce something so perfect, so beautiful, so pure. Behold, The Punch:


I hope that you’re thinking of the one person in your life that you’d want to punch like that (I’m looking at you, Eric Hosmer). If you haven’t watched the entirety of this video, or seen the buildup to it that began in the 2015 Playoffs, then it’s a good thing this column is over, because you have some pure bliss and gaudy bat flipping to experience. Happy playoffs.

Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected].